Lewis and his friends jumped a fence, and were greeted heartily in the enclosure. He seemed to know each herd by name or rather nickname, for he had a word for all, and they with all freedom grinned badinage back.
“Where’s my stool, Yed?” he cried. “Am I not to have a hand in clipping my own sheep?”
An obedient shepherd rose and fetched one of the triangular seats, while Lewis with great ease caught the ewe, pulled her on her back, and proceeded to call for shears. An old pair was found for him, and with much dexterity he performed the clipping, taking little longer to the business than the expert herd, and giving the shears a professional wipe on the sacking with which he had prudently defended his clothes.
From somewhere in the back two boys came forward—the Tam and Jock of a former day—eager to claim acquaintance. Jock was clearly busy, for his jacket was off and a very ragged shirt was rolled about two stout brown arms. The “human collie” seemed to be a gentleman of some leisure, for he was arrayed in what was for him the pink of fashion in dress. The two immediately lay down on the ground beside Lewis exactly in the manner of faithful dogs.
The men talked cheerfully, mainly on sheep and prices. Now talk would touch on neighbours, and there would be the repetition of some tale or saying. “There was a man in the glen called Rorison. D’ye mind Jock Rorison, Sandy?” And Sandy would reply, “Fine I mind Jock,” and then both would proceed to confidences.
“Hullo, Tam,” said Lewis at last, realizing his henchman’s grandeur. “Why this magnificence of dress?
“I’m gaun to the Sabbath-school treat this afternoon,” said that worthy.
“And you, Jock-are you going too?”
“No me! I’m ower auld, and besides, I’ve cast out wi’ the minister.”
“How was that?”
“Oh, I had been fechtin’,” said Jock airily. “It was Andra Laidlaw. He called me ill names, so I yokit on him and bate him too, but I got my face gey sair bashed. The minister met me next day when I was a’ blue and yellow, and, says he, ‘John Laverlaw, what have ye been daein’? Ye’re a bonny sicht for Christian een. How do ye think a face like yours will look between a pair o’ wings in the next warld?’ I ken I’m no bonny,” added the explanatory Jock; “but ye canna expect a man to thole siccan language as that.”
Lewis laughed and, being engaged in clipping his third sheep, forgot the delicacy of his task and let the shears slip. A very ugly little cut on the animal’s neck was the result.
“Oh, confound it!” cried the penitent amateur. “Look what I’ve done, Yed. I’ll have to rub in some of that stuff of yours and sew on a bandage. The files will kill the poor thing if we leave the cut bare in this infernal heat.”
The old shepherd nodded, and pointed to where the remedies were kept. Jock went for the box, which contained, besides the ointment, some rolls of stout linen and a huge needle and twine. Lewis doctored the wound as best he could, and then proceeded to lay on the cloth and sew it to the fleece. The ewe grew restless with the heat and the pinching of the cut, and Jock was given the task of holding her head.