Robert Falconer, Excerpt from Chapter II

The original text below can be found in Chapter II, pages 8 and 9 of the Sunrise edition. English translation can be found in Robert Falconer: English Dialogue Edition. 

He heard the town drummer in the distance, and let the sound invade his passive ears, till it crossed the opening of the street, and vanished 'down the town.'

'There's Dooble Sanny,' he said to himself--'wi' siccan cauld han's, 'at he's playin' upo' the drum-heid as gin he was loupin' in a bowie (leaping in a cask).'

Then he stood silent once more, with a look as if anything would be welcome to break the monotony.

While he stood a gentle timorous tap came to the door, so gentle indeed that Betty in the kitchen did not hear it, or she, tall and Roman-nosed as she was, would have answered it before the long-legged dreamer could have reached the door, though he was not above three yards from it. In lack of anything better to do, Robert stalked to the summons. As he opened the door, these words greeted him:

'Is Robert at--eh! it's Bob himsel'! Bob, I'm byous (exceedingly) cauld.'

'What for dinna ye gang hame, than?'

'What for wasna ye at the schuil the day?'

'I spier ae queston at you, and ye answer me wi' anither.'

'Weel, I hae nae hame to gang till.'

'Weel, and I had a sair heid (a headache). But whaur's yer hame gane till than?'

'The hoose is there a' richt, but whaur my mither is I dinna ken. The door's lockit, an' Jeames Jaup, they tell me 's tane awa' the key. I doobt my mither's awa' upo' the tramp again, and what's to come o' me, the Lord kens.'

'What's this o' 't?' interposed a severe but not unmelodious voice, breaking into the conversation between the two boys; for the parlour door had opened without Robert's hearing it, and Mrs. Falconer, his grandmother, had drawn near to the speakers.

'What's this o' 't?' she asked again. 'Wha's that ye're conversin' wi' at the door, Robert? Gin it be ony decent laddie, tell him to come in, and no stan' at the door in sic a day 's this.'

As Robert hesitated with his reply, she looked round the open half of the door, but no sooner saw with whom he was talking than her tone changed. By this time Betty, wiping her hands in her apron, had completed the group by taking her stand in the kitchen door.

'Na, na,' said Mrs. Falconer. 'We want nane sic-like here. What does he want wi' you, Robert? Gie him a piece, Betty, and lat him gang.--Eh, sirs! the callant hasna a stockin'-fit upo' 'im--and in sic weather!'

For, before she had finished her speech, the visitor, as if in terror of her nearer approach, had turned his back, and literally showed her, if not a clean pair of heels, yet a pair of naked heels from between the soles and uppers of his shoes: if he had any stockings at all, they ceased before they reached his ankles.

'What ails him at me?' continued Mrs. Falconer, 'that he rins as gin I war a boodie? But it's nae wonner he canna bide the sicht o' a decent body, for he's no used till 't. What does he want wi' you, Robert?'

But Robert had a reason for not telling his grandmother what the boy had told him: he thought the news about his mother would only make her disapprove of him the more. In this he judged wrong. He did not know his grandmother yet.

'He's in my class at the schuil,' said Robert, evasively.

'Him? What class, noo?'

Robert hesitated one moment, but, compelled to give some answer, said, with confidence,

'The Bible-class.'

'I thocht as muckle! What gars ye play at hide and seek wi' me? Do ye think I dinna ken weel eneuch there's no a lad or a lass at the schuil but 's i' the Bible-class? What wants he here?'

'Ye hardly gae him time to tell me, grannie. Ye frichtit him.'

'Me fricht him! What for suld I fricht him, laddie? I'm no sic ferlie (wonder) that onybody needs be frichtit at me.'