XI SANDY STANDS “EMPIRE” AT A CRICKET MATCH. I WAS sittin’ on Friday nicht, readin’ awa’ at some bits o’ the Herald I didna get at on Fursday, when the shop door gaed clash back to the wa’, an’ in hammered fewer or five bits o’ loons a’ at the heels o’ ane anither. When they saw me, they stood stock still, dichtin’ their noses wi’ their jeckit sleeves, an’ glowerin’ like as many fleggit sheep. “Go on, Jock,” says ane o’ them, gien anither ane a shuve forrit. “You’re the captain; speak you.” Jock gae a host, an’ syne layin’ his hand—a gey clorty ane it was—on the coonter, an’ stanin’ on ae fit, he says— ”Isyin?” “Wha micht he be?” says I. “Sandy,” said the captain. “What Sandy?” says I. “No,” said ane o’ the birkies ahent; “your Sandy — Sandy Bowden.” “Ay, he’s in,” says I; “but you shud mind an’ gie fowk their richt names when ye’re seeking them. Ye micht hae smeddum enough to say Mester Bowden, or Alexander Bowden. Your teacher michta tell’t ye that.” I gaed awa’ doon the yaird to get Sandy, an’ just as I was gaen oot at the back dear I heard ane o’ the sackets sayin’, “What’s she chatterin’ aboot? She ca’s him Sandy hersel’; I’ve heard her of’en.” Did ever ye bear what impident young fowk’s gettin’ noo-adays? It’s raley terriple. When I was young, if I’d sen the like o’ that, I’d gotten a smack i’ the side o’ the heid that wudda garred the wa’ tak’s anither. “Oo, ay,” says Sandy, when I tell’t him. “That’ll be the lads frae the Callyfloor C.C. They said they were mibby genna look yont the nicht.” He cam’ up an’ took the loons to the back shop, an’ I heard them sayin’ they wantit him to be empire at their match wi’ the second eleven o’ the Collie Park. There was a fell kurn fowk cam’ into the shop, an’ I didna hear nae mair; but efter a whilie Sandy cam’ to the dear wi’ the laddies, an’, gien his hand a wave, he says to them, as they were gaen awa, “A’ richt than; three sharp; I’ll do my best.” “What’s this noe?” says I. “Nae mair o’ yer fitba’ pliskies, I howp.” “Oh no,” says Sandy. “That’s a deputation frae the Callyfloor C.C. I gae them a tume orange box a week or twa syne to haud their bats an’ wickets, an’ they made me their pattern.” “A gey queer pattern,” says I, wi’ a lauch. “Faigs, Sandy, if they shape themselves efter your pattern, their mithers an’ wives—if ever they get that len’th—‘ill lose a hankle o’ sleep wi’ them, I’m thinkin’.” “Auch, Bawbie, yore juist haverin’ like some auld aipplewife,” says Sandy. “That’s no’ the kind o’ pattern I mean;” an’ awa’ he gaed for the Herald an’ turned up a bit noos I never noticed, sayin’ that “Alexander Bowden, Esq., had been elected patron of the Cauliflower C.C., and had contributed handsomely to the funds of the club.” “Oo ay! I see,” says I. “An’ what did you handsomely gie to the funds o’ the club?” “O, that’s juist the orange box,” says Sandy. “But they want me for empire the morn’s efternune. They’re genna play the second eleven o’ the Collie Park C.C. a match at bat an’ wickets on the Wast, Common. It’ll be a rare affair. Ye micht get Mistress Kenawee to look efter the shop for an ‘oor or twa, an’ come ootbyo, Bawbie.” Ay, weel, to mak’ a lang story short, Sandy an’ me got ootbye to the Wast Common on Setarday efternune; an’ awa we gaed up to a corner o’ the Common whaur there was aboot a hunder loons gaithered. The loonie that they ca’d the captain cam’ forrit. He was berfit, an’ had his jecket an’ weyscot aff, an’ his gallaces lowsed i’ the front an’ tied roond his weyst. “We’ve won the toss, Sandy,” says he, “an’ the Collie Park’s gonna handle the willa first. We’ve sent them in to see what they’ll mak’.” Sandy took me up the brae a bit, an’ I got set doon on the girss wi’ Nathan aside me. I took him wi’s juist to explain the match, d’ye see, an’ aboot the bats an’ wickets, an’ sic like, an’ so on, because I’m no’ juist acquant wi’ a’ the oots an’ ins o’ the thing. A lot o’ the loons gethered roond an’ lay doon on the girss, an’ they keepit their tongues gaen to the playin’, I can tell ye. Ye wudda thocht they kent mair aboot cricket than the loons that were playin’. Weel, the match got startit. They set Sandy at the end nearest the dyke; an’, faigs, he lookit gey weel, mind ye. The captain loonie wirks at the hecklemachines, an’ he’d gotten a len’ o’ the second foreman’s white canvas coat, an’ gae’t to Sandy. It was to keep his shedda oot ahent the baller’s airm, Sandy said; but it didna appear to mak’ ony difference to his shedda. It was juist in the auld place, as far as I cud see. Very weel, than, the match began, as I was sayin’, an’ a’thing gaed richt eneuch for a little. The Collie Park lads did fine for a while, but some o’ them didna get so lang strikin’ the ba’ as ithers, an’ they began to roar cheek. “Noo, Batchy,” said same o’ them, as a gey mettled-lookin’ loon got the bat, “strik’ oot. Lat’s see ye knokin’ the colour oot o’ Snapper Morrison’s ballin’.” Sal, mind ye, an’ Batchy wasna lang o’ doin’ that. He shut his een, an’ lut sweech at the ba’, an’ awa’ it gaed sailin’ ower the dyke. “Well away,” roared the loons roond aboot me. “That’s a sixer. Play up, Batchy!” Batchy spat in his hands, an’ set himsel’ up for the next ba’. He lut drive at it, but missed, an’ doon gaed his wickets. Ye never heard sic a row. “A bloomin’ sneak!” roared a’ the laddies aside me thegither. “Dinna gae oot, Batchy. It rowed a’ the road.” There was an awfu’ wey-o-doin’, an’ aboot fifty laddies roond Sandy, a’ yalpin’ till him at ae time. Efter a lang laberlethan, the baller got three shies at Batchy’s wickets, because he tried to het what they ca’d a sneak. But he missed ilky time, an’ syne Batchy wallapit the ba’ a’ ower the Common, an’ floo frae end to end o’ the wickets like’s he wasna wyse. It was gey slow wark for Sandy though, an’ I think he had gotten tired, for the laddies roond aboot me began to say, “There was thirteen ba’s i’ that lest over; I think Sandy Bowden’s dreamin’,” an’ so on. I think mysel’ Sandy had been doverin’, for the ba’ hut Batchy’s wicket, an’ every ane o’ the loons playin’ gae a yowl at the same meenit— ”How’s that?” Sandy near jamp ootin his white coat wi’ the start; an’, takin’ till his heels, he was a hunder yairds doon the Common afore ane o’ the laddies grippit him by the tails, an’ speered whaur he was fleein’ till. “I was gettin’ hungrie,” says Sandy. “I was gaen ower to the toll for a biskit.” That was a lee; for he tell’d me efter, he dreedit, when he heard the roar, that it was ane o’ Sandy Mertin’s ki gane wild; an’ he took till his heels, thinkin’ it was efter him. “That bloomin’ empire’s a pure frost,” I heard some o’ the loons sayin’. “He canna coont; an’ noo he’s genna stop the match ‘cause he’s hungrie. Wha ever heard o’ an empire gettin’ hungrie?” Sandy got back till his place, an’ the match gaed on. “Over comin’ up,” said the ither empire forby Sandy; an’ the laddie that was ballin’ says, “Ay weel, than, I’m genna see an’ get wid.” He gae his arm an awfu’ sweel roond, an’ instead o’ sendin’ the ba’ to the wickets, it gaed spung ower an’ hut Sandy a yark i’ the side o’ the heid. “There’s wid,” said the ither empire; “but it’s no’ a wicket for a’ that.” Sandy was springin’ aboot wi’ his heid in his oxter, an’ a’ the laddies roarin’ and lauchin’ like to kill themsel’s. I was ance gonna gae doon an’ tak’ him awa’ hame; but I thocht it micht look raither queer, so I lut him aleen for a little. The captain loonie began to ball, an’ a gey wild-lookin’ baller he was. The Collie Park’s henmost man—he was a little berfit craturie wi’ nicker-buckers an’ a straw hat—was in, an’ the captain gae him an awfu’ crack below the knee wi’ the ba’. “How’s that?” he yowled at Sandy. “Man, I believe that’s fell sair,” says Sandy, rubbin’ the swalled side o’ his heid. A’ the loons startit to the lauchin’, an’ the captain roars again, “Ay, but how is’t?” “Ye can easy see how it is,” says Sandy. “The ba’ strack him a yark on the kut.” There was mair lauchin’, an’ I saw Sandy was gettin’ raised. “Is’t l—b-w., ye stewpid auld bloit?” said the impident little wisgan o’ a captain, stickin’ himsel’ up afore Sandy. “I’ll l—b—double you,” says Sandy, “if ye gie me ony o’ your chat, ye half-cled horn-goloch ‘at ye are”; and he took the sacket a kleip i’ the side o’ the heid wi’ his open luif that tummeled him ower the tap o’ the wickets like a puckle rags. In half a meenit a’ the hunder laddies were round Sandy, an’ him layin’ amon’ them wi’ ane o’ their ain wickets. I’ll swag the Callyfloor C.C. got something frae their pattern lest Setarday efternune that they’ll no forget in a hurry. Some men on the Common cam doon an’ shoo’d the loons awa’ frae pappin’ Sandy wi’ cluds, an’ we got hame withoot any farrer mishap; but a’ forenicht I heard Sandy wirrin’ awa’ till himsel’, an’ sayin’ ilky noo an’ than— ”Ill-gettit little deevils; an’ me gae them an’ orange box too!” Nathan cam’ in juist afore I shut the shop, an’ tell’d Sandy that there had been an’ awfu’ row on the Common. “Some o the lads i’ the Callyfloor,” said Nathan, “were blamin’ the captain for gien you cheek, an’ said the wallop i’ the lug he got saired him richt. So he got on his jeckit an’ his buits, an’ got a haud o’ the best bat an’ the ba’, an’ then he roars a’ his micht, ‘The club’s broken up.’ You never saw sic a row as there was. Willy Mollison’s i’ the club, an’ he’s gotten three bails an’ a wicket. That’s better gin naething. I nailed twa o’ the bails till him out o’ Tam Dargie’s pooch, when he was fechtin’ wi’ the captain. Snapper Morrison didna get onything; but he ower the Common dyke an’ in the road; an’ when I was comin’ hame I saw him leggin’ in the Loan wi’ the orange box on his heid. He had nabbit it oot o’ Tooties’ Nook, whaur they keepit their bats an’ wickets. It’s a gude thing they’re broken up at onyrate. I’m in the Collie Park, an’ they’re the only club that cud lick his lads.” “O, that’s a’ richt,” says Sandy; an’ awa’ he gaed, as pleased as you like. When I dandered doon the yaird to get a breath o’ fresh air, efter I shut the shop, here’s him tumblin’ catmas, an’ stanin’ on his heid i’ the middle o’ the green, gien Nathan an’ twa or three ither loons coosies! Did you ever hear o’ sic a man?