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My Man Sandy
Chapter I. Sandy Swaps his Powney

He's a queer cratur, my man Sandy! He's made, mind an' body o' him, on an original plan a'thegither. He says an' does a' mortal thing on a system o' his ain; Gairner Winton often says that if Sandy had been in the market-gardenin' line, he wudda grown his cabbage wi' the stocks aneth the ground, juist to lat them get the fresh air aboot their ruits. It's juist his wey, you see. I wudna winder to see him some day wi' Donal' yokit i' the tattie-cairt wi' his heid ower the fore-end o't, an' the hurdles o' him whaur his heid shud be. I've heard Sandy say that he had an idea that a horse cud shuve far better than poo; an' when Sandy ance gets an idea intil his heid, there's some beast or body has to suffer for't afore he gets redd o't. If there's a crank wey o' doin' onything Sandy will find it oot. For years he reg'larly flang the stable key ower the gate efter he'd brocht oot Donal' an' the cairt. When he landit hame again, he climbed the gate for the key, an' syne climbed ower again an' opened it frae the ootside. He michta carried the key in his pooch; but onybody cudda dune that! But, as I was sayin', it's juist his wey.

"It's juist the shape original sin's ta'en in Sandy's case," the Gairner said when the Smith an' him were discussin' the subject.

"I dinna ken aboot the sin; but it's original eneuch, there's nae doot aboot that," said the Smith.

There's naebody kens that better than me, for I've haen the teuch end o' forty year o't. But, still an' on, he's my ain man, the only ane ever I had, an' I'll stick up for him, an' till him, while the lamp holds on to burn, as the Psalmist says.

* * * * * *

"See if I can say my geog, Bawbie," said Nathan to me the ither forenicht, as I was stanin' in the shop. He'd been sittin' ben the hoose wi' his book croonin' awa' till himsel' aboot Rooshya bein' boundit on the north by the White Sea, an' on the sooth by the Black Sea, an' some ither wey by the Tooral-ooral mountains or something, an' he cam' ben an' handed me his geog, as he ca'd it, to see if he had a' this palaver on his tongue.

I've often windered what was the use o' Nathan wirryin' ower thae oot-o'-the-wey places that he wud never be within a thoosand mile o'. He kens a' the oots an' ins o' Valiparaiso, but michty little aboot Bowriefauld. Hooever, I suppose the dominie kens best.

Nathan was juist busy pointin' oot the place to me in his book when there was a terriple rattlin' oot on the street, an' aff he hookited to see what was ado. He thocht it was a marriage, an' that there micht be a chance o' some heys aboot the doors. What was my consternation when the reeshlin' an' rattlin' stoppit at the shop door, an' I heard Sandy's voice roarin', "Way-wo, haud still, wo man, wo-o-o, will ye!"

"What i' the face o' the earth's ado noo?" says I to mysel'; an' I goes my wa's to the door. Sandy had been up at Munromont for a load o' tatties. When I gaed to the door, here he was wi' a thing atween the shafts o' his cairt that lookit like's it had been struck wi' forkit lichtnin'.

"What hae ye dune wi' Donal', Sandy?" I speered.

"Cadger Gowans an' me's haen a swap," says Sandy, climbin' oot at the back o' the cairt, an' jookin' awa' roond canny-weys to the horse's heid.

"Wo, Princie," he says, pettin' oot his hand. "Wo, the bonnie laddie!"

Princie, as he ca'd him, ga'e a gley roond wi' the white o' his e'e that garred Sandy keep a gude yaird clear o' him.

"He's a grand beast," he says, comin' roond to my side; "a grand beast! Three-quarters bred, an' soond in wind and lim'. I got a terriple bargain o' him. I ga'e Gowans Donal' an' thirty shillin's, an' he ga'e me a he tortyshall kitlin' to the bute--the only ane i' the countryside. He's genna hand it in the morn."

There was nae want o' soond in Princie's wind at ony rate. I saw that in a minute. He was whistlin' like a lerik.

"He sooks wind a little when he has a lang rin," says Sandy; "but that's nether here nor there. He's haen a teenge or twa, an' he's akinda foondered afore, an' a little spavie i' the aft hent leg; but I'll shune pet that a' richt wi' gude guidin'. He's a grand beast, I tell ye!"

Sandy stood an' lookit first up at the horse an' then doon at his cairt. "He's gey high for the wheels," he says; "but, man, he's a grand beast. He cam hame frae Glesterlaw juist like a bird. Never turned a hair. He's a grand beast."

"Hoo mony legs has he, Sandy?" says I, lookin' at the great, big, ravelled-lookin' brute. He was a' twisted here and there, an' the legs o' him lookit for a' the world juiat like bits o' crunckled water-hose. The cairt appeared to be haudin' him up, raither than him haudin' up the cairt; an' he was restin' the thrawn legs o' him time aboot, juist like a cock stanin' amon' snaw. "Ye shudda left that billie at the knackers at Glesterlaw, Sandy," says I, I says. "I'm dootin' ye'll ha'e back to tak' him there afore him or you's muckle aulder."

"Tyach! Haud your lang tongue," says Sandy. "Speak aboot things ye ken something aboot. Wait till the morn. Ye'll see I'll get roond my roonds an' a' my tatties delivered in half the time. I'll ha'e rid o' a' my tatties an' be hame gin ane o'clock, instead o' dotterin' awa' wi' a lazy brute like Donal'. I'll beat ye onything ye like, Gowans 'ill be ruin' his bargain gin this time; but he'll no' get him back noo. I'll go an' see an' get Princie stabled."

Sandy gaed inby to the shafts, but he sprang back when Princie ga'e a squeek an' garred his heels play tnack on the boddom o' the cairt.

"That's the breedin'," says Sandy, gaen awa' roond to the ither side o' the cairt.

"It soonded to me like the boddom o' the cairt, as far as I cud hear," says I, I says; but Sandy never lut on.

The brute had a nesty e'e in its heid. It turned roond wi' a vegabon'-like look aye when Sandy gaed near't. He got up on the front efter a while, an' ga'e the reinds a tit, an' Princie began to do a bit jeeg, garrin' Sandy bowse aboot on the front o' the cairt like's he was foo. Sandy ga'e him a clap on the hurdles to quieten him, but aye the hent feet o' him played skelp on the boddom o' the cairt, till I thocht he wudda haen't ca'd a' to bits. Syne awa' he gaed full bung a' o' a sudden, wi' Sandy rowin' aboot amon' the tatties, an' hingin' in by the reinds, roarin', "Wo! haud still," an' so on. Gin he got to the fit o' the street there was a dozen laddies efter him; screamin', "Come on you lads, an' see Sandy Bowden's drumadairy. By crivens, he's gotten a richt horse for Donal', noo."

Sandy didna come up frae the stable till near-hand eleven o'clock, an' I didna say ony mair aboot his braw horse. I've heard the minister say, it's the unexpectit that happens. That's aye the way wi' Sandy, I can tell you. I aye expect that something will happen wi' him that I'm no' expectin'; so I find it best juist to lat him aleen.

Next mornin' he gaed awa' gey early to get yokit, an' he took Bandy Wobster wi' him to gi'e him a hand. It was twa strucken 'oors afore he got to the shop door wi' the cairt, an' baith him an' the horse were sweitin' afore they startit on his roonds. Sandy was lookin' gey raised like, so I lut him get on a' his tatties an' said naething.

Stumpie Mertin cam' by, an', lookin' at Princie, gae his heid a claw.

"What are ye stanin' glowerin' at?" says Sandy till him, gey snappit like.

"Whaur did ye get that hunger'd-lookin' radger, Sandy?" says he. "That beast's no' fit for gaen aboot. The Cruelty to Animals 'ill nip you, as shure's you're a livin' man."

"Tak' care 'at they dinna nip you, for haein' a wid leg," says Sandy, as raised as a wasp. "Awa' oot o' that, an' mind your ain bisness."

"That's been stealt oot ahent some menagerie caravan," says Stumpie; an' awa' he gaed dilpin' like's he'd made a grand joke.

The policeman cam' doon an' settled himsel' aboot ten yairds awa' frae Princie, put his hands ahent his back, set forrit his heid like's he was gaen awa' to putt somebody, an' took a lang look at him. "That's a clinker, Sandy," says he. "That billie 'ill cover the grund."

I didna ken whether the bobbie meant rinnin' ower the grund, or coverin't efter he was turned into gooana or bane-dust; but I saw the lauch in his sleeve a' the same.

Gairner Winton cam' doon the street at the same time, an' the bobby an' him startit to remark aboot Sandy's horse.

"A gude beast, nae doot," says the Gairner; "but Sandy's been gey lang o' buyin' him.'

"He's bocht him gey sune, I'm thinking," says the policeman. "Gin he'd waited a fortnicht, he'd gotten him at twintypence the hunderwecht."

Sandy never lut dab 'at he heard them. The cairt was a' ready an' Sandy got up on the front and startit. A' gaed richt till he got to the Loan, when Princie startit to trot. The rattlin' o' the scales at the back o' the cairt fleggit him, an' aff he set at full tear, the lang skranky legs o' him wallopin' about like torn cloots atween him an' the grund. A gude curn wives were oot waitin' their tatties, an' they roared to Sandy to stop; but Sandy cudna. The tatties were fleein' ower the back door o' the cairt, an' the scales were rattlin' an' reeshlin' like an earthquake; an' there was Sandy, bare-heided, up to the knees amon' his tatties, ruggin' an' roarin', like the skipper o' some schooner that was rinnin' on the rocks. I'll swear, Sandy got roond his roonds an' a' his tatties delivered in less than half the time Donal' took! The wives an' laddies were gaitherin' up the tatties a' the wey to Tutties Nook; and gin Sandy got to the milestane his cairt was tume. By this time Princie was fair puffed out, an' he drappit i' the middle o' the road, Sandy gaen catma ower the tap o' him.

Donal's back till his auld job! Sandy lost thirty shillin's an' a cairt-load o' tatties ower the heid o' Princie; an' as for the he tortyshall kitlin', I've never heard nor seen hint nor hair o't.

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