And so they talked of their dreams and felt the better for it.
A YOUNG REBEL
About two years after these events little Robert Sinclair went to school. It was a fine morning in late spring, and Robert trudged the seemingly long road, clasping an elder brother’s hand, for the school lay about a mile to the north-west of the village, and that seemed to the boy a very long way.
It was a great experience. Robert’s clothes had been well patched, his face had been washed and toweled till it shone, his eyes sparkled with excitement, and his heart beat high; yet he was nervous and awed, wondering what he would find there.
“By crikey,” said wee Alec Johnstone to him, “wait till auld Clapper gie’s ye a biff or twa wi’ his muckle tawse. Do ye ken what he does to mak’ them nippy? He burns them a wee bit in the fire, an’ then st’eeps them in whusky. An’ they’re awful sair.”
“Oh, but I ken what to do, Rab, if ye want to diddle him,” put in another boy. “Just get a horse’s hair—a lang yin oot o’ its tail—and put it across yer haun’, an’ it’ll cut his tawse in twa, whenever he gie’s ye a pammy.”
“That’s what I’m gaun to do, Jamie,” replied another. “I’ll get some hairs frae Willie Rogerson. He’s gettin’ me some frae his father’s when he’s in the stable the morn, an’ ye’ll see auld Cabbage-heid’s tawse gaun in twa, whenever he gie’s me yin.” And they all looked admiringly at this little hero who was going to do this wonderful thing so simply.
“I got four yesterday,” said another, “an’ I wasna’ doin’ onything. By criffens! it was sair, an’ gin I had only had a horse’s hair, I’d soon ha’e putten his tawse oot the road.”
“I got four yesterday too,” said another, “an’ a’ because I was looking at yon new laddie wha cam to the schule yesterday. By! they were sair. I never heard auld Cabbage-heid till he cam up an’ telt me to put oot my haun.”
“It’s Peter Rundell’s his name,” chimed in another. “He’s the Boss’s laddie. My! if you just saw what fine claes he has on. A new suit, an’ lang stockings, an’ a pair o’ fine new buits.”
“Ay, an’ a white collar too,” said another, “an’ hundreds o’ pooches in his jacket.”
“He has a waistcoat wi’ three pooches in it—yin for a watch—an’ a braw, black, shiny bonnet.”
“He had a white hankey too, an’ sweeties in yin o’ his pooches.”
Robert felt a certain amount of resentment as he listened to the description, and he grudged Peter Rundell his new suit for he himself had never known anything of that kind, but had always worn “make-downs” created by his mother’s clever fingers out of the discarded clothes of grown-ups.
“Auld Cabbage-heid didna’ like me looking at Peter Rundell an’ that’s the way he gied me four, but I’ll get a horse’s hair too, an’ his tawse ’ll soon get wheegh. He’s awful cruel, Rab,” he said, turning to Robert, “an’ ye’d better look oot.”