The audience laughed itself into helplessness, gasping advice and encouragement to each with a fine lack of favouritism.
’Wire in, wee yin! Try again, pipeshanks! Weel hit, Grocer! That had him, Wullie!—ye’ll be a corporal afore yer auntie! Haw, Mac, that was a knock-oot, if it had struck! Cheer up, Private Thomson; gi’e him the kidney punch on his whuskers! Guid stroke. Grocer!—fair on his goods’ entrance! We’ll be payin’ for to see ye in pictur’ hooses yet—the Brithers Basher! Gor, this is better nor a funeral! Keep it up, lads!’ And so forth.
But it was far too fast to last. A few minutes, and both were utterly pumped. As though with mutual agreement, they paused panting. Neither had gained any visible advantage.
‘Nae blood yet,’ remarked some one in tones of regret mingled with hope.
‘Never heed,’ interposed Jake, humanely Tak’ aff their gloves. They’ve done enough. We’ll ca’ it a draw—or to be conteenued in oor next dull evenin’—whichever they like. I hope you twa lads ‘ll never learn scienteefic boxin’. There’s ower little fun in the warld nooadays.’
Neither offered any resistance to the removal of the gloves.
‘Shake han’s, lads,’ said Jake.
To Macgregor’s surprise, Willie’s hand was out before his own.
‘I’m a leear if ye like,’ said Willie, still panting, ’but I can stan’ up to ye noo!’
‘So ye can,’ Macgregor admitted—a little reluctantly perhaps, for he had long been used to being the winner.
‘If I wasna teetotal,’ Willie added in a burst of generosity, ’I wud stan’ ye a drink.’
Macgregor to Christina
My dear Christina,—
I was looking for your letter the whole of yesterday, but it did not come till this morning at 8.35 a.m., and I am sorry to say it is not near as nice as I expected. Some parts is niceish, but others is rotten. What for do you ask me if I have spotted many pretty girls here, when you know I would not be for taking the troubble of spoting any girl in the world but you, and besides they are all terrible ugly here. Yesterday I seen 2 that made me feel sick. Willie said they was on for being picked up, and he give a wink at one of them, and she put out her tongue at him, but no more happened. They was quite young girls, though hiddeous, but Willie did not seem to mind their faces [’mugs’ scored out].
Willie is greatly changed since the last few weeks. You would scarcely know him, he is that fond of exercises. He is near as strong as me. They are telling him he will be a corporal before his aunt, and he gets huffy. He spoke too much about his aunt at the beginning, cursing and swearing like, and now he can’t get away from it, poor sole. It is a pity she does not send him some small presents