III SANDY AND THE DINNER BELL. CRACK aboot holidays! I tell you, I’d raither do a day’s washin’ an’ cleaning’, ay, an’ do the ironin’ an’ manglin’ efter that, than face anither holiday like what Sandy an’ me had this week. Holiday! It’s a winder there wasna a special excursion comin’ hame wi’ Sandy’s bur’al. If that man’s no’ killed afore lang, he’ll be gettin’ in amon’ thae anarkist billies or something. I tell you he’s fit eneuch for onything. We took the cheap trip to Edinboro, juist to hae a bit look round the metrolopis, as Sandy ca’d it to the fowk i’ the train. He garred me start twa-three times sayin’t; I thocht he’d swallowed his pipe-shank, he gae sic a habble. We wasna weel startit afore he begude wi’ his nonsense. There was a young bit kimmerie an’ a bairnie i’ the carriage, an’ the craturie grat like onything. “I winder what I’ll do wi’ this bairn?” aid the lassie; an’ Sandy, in the middle o’ argeyin’ wi’ anither ass o’ a man that the Arbroath cricketers cud lick the best club i’ the country, says, rale impident like to the lassie, “Shuve’t in ablo the seat.” “You hertless vegabon,” says I; “think shame o’ yoursel! Gie me the bairnie,” says I; an’ I got the craturie cowshined an’ quieted. There was nae mair nonsense till we cam till a station in Fife wi’ an’ awfu’-like name. I canna mind what it was, an’ never will, I suppose. The stationmester had an awfu’ reed nose—most terriple. “Is the strawberries a gude crap roond aboot here?” said Sandy till him, out at the winda; an’ you never heard what lauchin’ as there was on the platform. The stationmester’s face got as reed’s his nose, an’ he ca’d Sandy for a’ the impident whaups that ever travelled. Sal, Sandy stack up till him, though; an’ when the train moved awa’ the fowk hurrehed like’s it had been a royal marriage. The stationmester didna hurreh ony. Gaen ower the Forth Brig I thocht twa-three times Sandy wud be oot at the window heid-lang. I was juist in a fivver wi’ him an’ his ongaens. Hooever, we landit a’ richt in Edinboro. An’ what a day! I thocht when we got to a temperance hotel at nicht that I had a chance o’ an ‘oor’s peace. But haud your tongue! Weesht! I’ll juist gie you the thick o’ the story clean aff luif. It was a rale comfortable-lookin’ hoose, and we got a nice clean-lookin’ bedroom, an’ efter a’thing was arranged, Sandy an’ me gaed awa’ doon as far as Holyrood, whaur Queen Mary got ane o’ her fiddlers killed, an’ whaur John Knox redd her up for carryin’ on like a pagan linkie instead o’ the Queen o’ Scotland. Weel, it was gey late when we get back to oor hotel, an’ we juist had a bit snack o’ supper, an’ up the stair we gaed. We were three stairs up. We had a seat an’ a crack an’ a look oot at the winda, for we saw a lang wey ower the toun, an’ it was bonnie to watch the lichts twinklin’ an’ to hear the soonds. Twal o’clock chappit, an’ we thocht it was time we were beddit. I was anower, an’ Sandy was juist a’ ready, when he cudna fa’ in wi’ his nichtkep. It was in a handbag o’ Sandy’s, and he had left it doon in the lobby. Sandy canna sleep without his nichtkep—no’ him! “What am I genna do ?“ says Sandy. He was in his lang white nichtgoon, and he gaed to the room door an’ opened it. He lookit oot, but a’thing was as quiet’s death. “I’ll rin doon for’t,” says he; “a’body’s beddit. I’ll juist rin doon, an’ I’ll bring up my umberell an’ my hat at the same time, for fear they micht be liftit. You never can tell.” Awa’ doon the stairs he gaed in his lang nichtgoon, for a’ the earth juist like some corp escapit frae the kirkyaird. He wasna a meenit oot when I dreedit something wad happen, an’ I juist sat up tremblin’ in the bed. Sandy got doon to the lobby a’ richt; an’ a’thing was dark, an’ as still’s the grave. He scrammilt aboot till he got the bag; syne he fand for his lum hat, an’ put it on his heid. He got his umberell in his oxter, an’ the bag in his hand, an’ then he fand roond juist see if there was naething else he had forgotten. By ill-fortune he cam’ on the handle a’ the denner bell, an’ liftin’t, it ga’e a creesh an’ a clang that knokit a’ the sense oot o’ Sandy’s heid, and wauken’d half the fowk i’ the hoose. Sandy took till his heels up the stair; an’ a gey like picture he was, wi’ his lang, white sark-tails fleein’ i’ the air, a lum hat on his heid, an umberell in his oxter, the bag in ae hand, an’ the denner bell i’ the ither, bangin’ an’ clangin’ at ilky jump. It wudda frichten’d the very deevil himsel’. The stupid auld fule had gotten that doited that he cam’ fleein’ awa’ wi’ the bell in his hand. There was a cry o’ fire, and a scream o’ murder, an’ in half a meenit the hotel was as busy as gin it had been broad daylicht. Sandy forgot hoo mony stairs he had to clim’, and he gaed bang in on an auld sea captain an’ his wife, in the room below oors. It fair paralised baith o’ them, when they saw Sandy comin’ burst in on them wi’ his black tile, his white goon, his umberell an’ bag, an’ the denner bell. “P’leece, p’leece,” roared the captain an’ his wife—an’ Sandy oot at the door. Awa’ alang a passage he gaed, fleein’ like a huntit tod. I heard him as gin he’d been doon in the very bowels o’ the earth cryin’ “Bawbie, Bawbie! Oh, whaur are ye, Bawbie?” “Wha i’ the earth is he, or what’s ado wi’ him?” I heard somebody speer. “Gude kens,” said anither voice. “It’s shurely some milkman wi’ the bloo deevils.” “Milkman! What wud a milkman do wi’ an umberell, a portmanty, an’ a lum hat ?“ Juist at that meenit Sandy cam’ fleein’ alang the passage again, an’ by this time a’ the fowk in the hotel were oot on the stairs. If you had only seen the scrammel. They scoored doon the stairs, into pantries, in below tables; the room doors were bangin’ like thunder, an’ Sandy’s bell was ringin’ like’s Gabriel had lost his trumpet. You never heard sic a din. I saw him comin’ leggin’ up the stair. The stairheid was fu’ o’ fowk, a’ oot in their nichtgoons to see what was ado; but, I can ashure you, when they saw Sandy comin’ fleein’ up, they shune disappeared. Six policemen cudna scattered them so quick. He came spankin’ into my room, an’ drappit intil a chair, fair oot o’ pech. “Oh, Bawbie, Bawbie !“ he cried, “gie’s a drink. Tak’ that umberell,” he says, haudin’ oot the bell to me. “I’ve been fleein’ a’ roond Edinboro wi’ naething on but my nicht-goon, an’ my lum, an a’ the coal cairters i’ the kingdom ringin’ their bells at my tails. Sic a wey o’ doin’! O dear me! I wiss I was hame again! O dear me!” “That’s no an umberell, you doited fule,” says I. “That’s the denner bell you’ve been fleein’ aboot wi’ i’ your hand.” Sandy lookit at the bell; an’ you never saw sic a face as he put on. He lut it drap on the flure wi’ a clash like a clap o’ thunder, an’ I heard a crood o’ fowk scurryin’ awa’ frae oor bedroom door. I tell’d the landlord hoo the thing happened, an’ next mornin’ at brakfast time you never heard sic lauchin’. A’ the chaps were clappin’ Sandy on the shuder; an’ ane o’ them says — ”Ay, man; it’s no mony fowk that tak’s their lum hat an’ their umberell to their bed wi’ them.” But the auld skipper was the king amon’ them a’. Hoo he raggit Sandy aboot bein’ a somnambulashinist or something. “When you want to steal a denner bell,” he said to Sandy, “carry’t by the tongue, man. It’s safer that wey. Bells an’ weemin are awfu’ beggars when their tongues get lowse.” The captain was rale taen wi’ Sandy, an’, mind you, he hired a cab an’ drave Sandy an’ me a’ roond the toon. Re said he was bidin’ in Carnoustie, and he wadna hae a nasay but we wud come an’ hae a cup o’ tea wi’ him. “An’ if you’ll bide a’ nicht,” he said, “we’ll be awfu’ pleased. An’ I’ll chain up the denner bell i’ the dog’s cooch juist for that nicht.” Ay, weel! it’s fine lauchin’ noo when it’s a’ ower. But if you’d been in my place, you wudna lauchen muckle, I’se warrant.