“You are an ould pig and I’ll not speak, and you’ll never put your hands on your tawse again.”
Then he was out of the window, dropped easily to the ground, and was away to the moors. He ran a long way, until finding that he had not been detected, he skirted a small wood, dug a hole in the soft moss, put in the “tawse,” and covered them up. There they may be lying to this day, for no one ever learned from him where they were buried.
The spell of the moor took possession of him, and his wounded soul was soon wrapped in the soft folds of its silence. The balm of its peace comforted him, and brought ease and calmed the rebellion in his blood. He was happy, forgetting that there ever had existed a schoolmaster, or anything else unpleasant. Here he was free, and no one ever misunderstood him. He gave pain to no one, and nothing ever hurt him here.
He flung himself down among the rank gray grass and heather, while the moor cock called to his mate in an agony of pleading passion, the lapwing crooned upon a tuft of grass as she prepared a place for her eggs, the whaup wheepled and twirled and cried in eerie alarm, the plover sighed to a low white cloud wandering past; while the snipe and the lark, the “mossie,” the heather lintie, and the wandering, sighing winds among the reeds and rushes of the swampy moss, all added their notes to soothe and satisfy the little wounded spirit lying there on the soft moorland. Already he was away upon the wings of fancy in a world of his own—a world full of dreams and joys unspeakable; a world of calm comfort, where there was no pain, no hunger, no unpleasantness; a world of smiles and warm delights and love.
Thus he dreamed as he watched the white clouds trailing their draperies along the sky, till the shadows creeping over the hills, and the cries of the heron returning to his haunts in the moor, woke him to a realization of the fact that the school was long since out, and probably another thrashing awaited him when he got home. Sadly and regretfully he dragged his little aching body from its soft mossy bed, felt that his limbs were still sore, and that he was very, very hungry. Rebellion again surging within him as he remembered all, he trudged home, fearful yet proud, resolved to go through with the inevitable.
BLACK JOCK’S THREAT
That same day Walker intimated to Geordie, when he was at work underground, that a reduction was to be imposed on his ton rate, which meant for Sinclair that it would be more difficult to earn a decent wage. Geordie had always had it in his head to confront Walker about his very unfair treatment of him, and on this occasion he decided to do so.
“What way are you breakin’ my rate?” he asked, when Walker told him of the reduction.
“Oh, it’s no’ me,” replied Walker. “It’s Rundell. He thinks it can be worked for less than it’s takin’, and, of course, I’ve just to do as I am tell’d.”