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Malcolm   By: (1824-1905)

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MALCOLM by George MacDonald


"Na, na; I hae nae feelin's, I'm thankfu' to say. I never kent ony guid come o' them. They're a terrible sicht i' the gait."

"Naebody ever thoucht o' layin' 't to yer chairge, mem."

"'Deed, I aye had eneuch adu to du the thing I had to du, no to say the thing 'at naebody wad du but mysel'. I hae had nae leisur' for feelin's an' that," insisted Miss Horn.

But here a heavy step descending the stair just outside the room attracted her attention, and checking the flow of her speech perforce, with three ungainly strides she reached the landing.

"Watty Witherspail! Watty!" she called after the footsteps down the stair.

"Yes, mem," answered a gruff voice from below.

"Watty, whan ye fess the bit boxie, jist pit a hemmer an' a puckle nails i' your pooch to men' the hen hoose door. The tane maun be atten't till as weel's the tither."

"The bit boxie" was the coffin of her third cousin Griselda Campbell, whose body lay on the room on her left hand as she called down the stair. Into that on her right Miss Horn now re entered, to rejoin Mrs Mellis, the wife of the principal draper in the town, who had called ostensibly to condole with her, but really to see the corpse.

"Aih! she was taen yoong!" sighed the visitor, with long drawn tones and a shake of the head, implying that therein lay ground of complaint, at which poor mortals dared but hint.

"No that yoong," returned Miss Horn. "She was upo' the edge o' aucht an' thirty."

"Weel, she had a sair time o' 't."

"No that sair, sae far as I see an' wha sud ken better? She's had a bien doon sittin' (sheltered quarters), and sud hae had as lang's I was to the fore. Na, na; it was nowther sae young nor yet sae sair."

"Aih! but she was a patient cratur wi' a' flesh," persisted Mrs Mellis, as if she would not willingly be foiled in the attempt to extort for the dead some syllable of acknowledgment from the lips of her late companion.

"'Deed she was that! a wheen ower patient wi' some. But that cam' o' haein mair hert nor brains. She had feelin's gien ye like and to spare. But I never took ower ony o' the stock. It's a pity she hadna the jeedgment to match, for she never misdoobted onybody eneuch. But I wat it disna maitter noo, for she's gane whaur it's less wantit. For ane 'at has the hairmlessness o' the doo 'n this ill wulled warl', there's a feck o' ten 'at has the wisdom o' the serpent. An' the serpents mak sair wark wi' the doos lat alane them 'at flees into the verra mouws o' them."

"Weel, ye're jist richt there," said Mrs Mellis. "An' as ye say, she was aye some easy to perswaud. I hae nae doubt she believed to the ver' last he wad come back and mairry her."

"Come back and mairry her! Wha or what div ye mean? I jist tell ye Mistress Mellis an' it's weel ye're named gien ye daur to hint at ae word o' sic clavers, it's this side o' this door o' mine ye's be less acquant wi'."

As she spoke, the hawk eyes of Miss Horn glowed on each side of her hawk nose, which grew more and more hooked as she glared, while her neck went craning forward as if she were on the point of making a swoop on the offender. Mrs Mellis's voice trembled with something like fear as she replied:

"Gude guide 's, Miss Horn! What hae I said to gar ye look at me sae by ordinar 's that?"

"Said!" repeated Miss Horn, in a tone that revealed both annoyance with herself and contempt for her visitor. "There's no a claver in a' the countryside but ye maun fess 't hame aneth yer oxter, as gin 't were the prodigal afore he repentit. Ye's get sma thanks for sic like here. An' her lyin' there as she'll lie till the jeedgment day, puir thing!"

"I'm sure I meant no offence, Miss Horn," said her visitor. "I thocht a' body kent 'at she was ill about him."

"Aboot wha, i' the name o' the father o' lees?"

"Ow, aboot that lang leggit doctor 'at set oat for the Ingies, an' dee'd afore he wan across the equautor. Only fouk said he was nae mair deid nor a halvert worm, an' wad be hame whan she was merried... Continue reading book >>

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