I warrant it was a good month of days after that, when he was drawing him well up to Ionsmis, that I was coming home from Ska, wheere
I was fishing that summer, one Saturday night with a creil [or basket] of ling heads and small tusk-fish, and scraps of that kind upon my back, never thinking of nothing except the oil that was running out of a liver head in my pannier and a little sour buttermilk that was leaking out of a bottle that I had, and running down upon my back with a tickling
and an itching that was inconceivable, for there was a great large scab under my creil, and when I came up just from the sand cliff to the town of Norrook, I looks behind me and who, think you, saw I but Steaggie, coming slipping up after me; and so thinks I, brother, thou and I have a crow to pluck before we part. And when I came to the garden of Digran, I leant me upon the garden dyke to take-in the band of my pannier, and there were a whole boat’s crew of Norrook men standing under the stack, watching a quarrel between Meggy of Digran and Annie Sudderlan, that were
scolding with a violence that was unspeakable: because Annie had tethered her new-calved cow upon a lea rig of Meggy’s, that there had not been a mouth upon in that season, and Meggy had cut Anney’s
quite new hair tether so small, that it was not a bit too thick to have been a humbla band to a [spinning] wheel. And I will assure you, you would have gone a good piece of way before you found two better scolders. Never may I sin if I did not hear the clatter of their tongues as well above the cliffs, as if I had been upon the very rigs beside them. And now you see, as I was telling you, by comes Steaggie with a pair of halters in his hand. He gives me the time of the day, and asks how is all with me. “Bravely! bravely! good fellow,” says I, “how is all with your self: I warrant you have not a smell in your horn; but why have you not?” “No, devil a pinch has been in my custody this month and more, since I lost my mill one day that I was in the water striking-off two or three limpets to sell at the market.” I took upon me to take out my box out of my waistcoat pocket; and I says, “Well, then, will you smell at my trash:” and with that I takes out his own mill and blows my nose; and, as soon as he set his eyes upon it, the face of him lighted up like a coal, and I says to him, “Brother, know you this snuff-mill?” “No, not I, dear; how should I know! may no good know of me, as I know not. A pretty mill it is, where fell you in with it?” “Where I fell in with this knife.” I entrapped him and took out the jackalegs. “May be, you know not it neither: yes, thou may hesitate, thou ill-fed thief that thou art: you thought nothing of putting thy mark” (his mark was the left ear slit behind, and the right ear pierced with a hole) “upon my colt: now before thou and I part, never may my hand help my body, if I do not set my mark upon thee.” (Our mark was both the ears off; but we had another one besides that.) And with that same I gripped him by the throttle; and, what think you, Peter! I was that ill to satisfy, that I am more than certain I would not have left the wretch the shape of an ear, if Duncan of Sandle had not come behind me and snatched the knife out of my hand. Well, I was resolved to have some satisfaction on him, and when I had given him a good grip of the throat, and three or four weighty thumps about the chops, we parted, and I landed him right upon the keel of his back, in the kennel that ran under the short door of Andrew of Digran’s cow house, beside Donal of Nius’ great speckled goat, that was cooling himself there, in the puddle, and such an
a puddle! I never saw the like! what with the swine, and the folk, and what ran out from the beasts, and a foul gutter of the dunghill, you would not possibly have seen a prettier concurrence from Ska to Sumbroock-head
. And there was that vile smell with it, when there was any quantity of mire upon it, that itwas
enough to suffocate a dog.