Wee Dauvit Morrison suddenly mindit it wis Friday.
"Dauvit!" his mother cried. "Rin ben the lobby wi Mam's purse like a fine loon.The veggie mannie's shelt's at the door wytin. Hash on noo!"
Fin he won ootside, the shelt an cairt war wytin.
"G'wa an feed the cuddy," the veggie man told the boy. "He's a guid, quate breet. Nae mony shelts staun as still's Auld Waltams yonner."
Auld Waltams, rowed his hairy top lip back and nichered, barin his muckle yalla teeth tae receive the proffered carrot. As the lantern jaws crunched sideways, makkin the slack skin at his throat wummle, Dauvit Morrison ran his hand doon the ily, pouerful neck, under the lang, blaik, tangled mane. Tae the bairn, Auld Waltams was a cuddy, or a shelt. He had niver heard it caad onything else. His mother emerged frae the dowp o the cairt, wechtit doon wi eerins.
"Fit aboot a dizzen fine dyeuk's eggies fur yer man?" the veggie man speired slyly, as Mrs Morrison made tae leave. "Fresh fae Turra this verra foreneen?"
The wee loon rugged his mither's sleeve. "Go on, Ma," he priggit. "I like dyeuk's eggies."
Cousin Neil at New Deer keepit dyeuks an geese in his fairm pond - muckle fite, breets that cobbled fae side tae side like boozy skippers in convoy roon the fairm yaird. Fin Dauvit hid visited thon fairm in the past, he hid bin latten feed the dyeukies.
Eence the veggie man hid bin pyed, an Auld Waltarns had clattered on up the street wi his flinty sheen drawing spirks frae the steens, Mrs Morrison took her wee loon back inno the hoose tae smairten him up.
"We're gaun tae veesit a nice lady shortly." she telt him. "An ye've tae answer aa the questions she speirs o ye, like a fine loon, an nae hae her thinkin ye a gype."
His da lifted a gean fae the fruit bowl. "Fit colour's this, Dauvit?" he speired.
"Reid, Da," came the reply.
"Ay, that's fine. Clivver laddie!" His father booed tae the cardboard box o toys, that bedd in the neuk o the kitchie fleer. He fished aroon for a meenit afore wylin een oot.
"An fit aboot the grumphie?" he speired.
"It's a fite grumphie, Da," lauched the bairn. He likit the grumphie; it myndit him o Aunty May's fite grumphie, Sottars, at Birse. Sottars wis Aunty May's pet name fur the breet. Sottars wis dubby, hairy, and affa clivver. Neist, his faither drew fae the boxie a handfu o wee plastic birdies.
"Chukkens!" cried David, warming tae the game. "Fower yalla chukkens!"
"Ken this," quo his father proodly, "Yon wumman'll think yer a
Syne, seeing that een o his son's curls wis threatening tae spyle his gweed luiks, Mr Morrison pyochered an spat on his haun and clartit it doon wi spit.
"We canna hae a coo's lick spylin ye," he remairked.
Syne a shadda fell ower his face, like Cousin Neil's parks fin the sun hid ahin a cloud.
"Mind, Dauvit, a lot hings on foo ye win on the day. Gin ye dinna tell this
wifie fit she wints tae hear, she'll nae let ye jyne her schule. An if she disna let
ye jyne her schule, neist year fin yer a big loon, ye'll hae tae wauk miles an miles tae anither schule hyne awa, ower five roads."
His faither hid nivver spukken tae him like this afore. Normally, he wis daured tae spikk tae strangers, nae that he iver saw strangers, but he hid heard fairy tales aboot strangers that frichtened him. Strangers wore pynty hats, or lang fite goons. They either ett ye, or terrifeed ye ooto sax month's growth.
"Littlins should be seen an nae heard," his fowk aye telt him. Noo, the day, Da wis tellin him the exact opposite.
"Dauvit dearie, strauchten yer pynts," his Ma wheedlit. She buttoned him inno his blazer an led him eence mair tae the door.
"Nae far," she said, as they left the hoose and trampit ower the weet streets. Her legs ett up the cassies wi lang strides, while wee Dauvit's feet gaed pit-pat, pit-pat, pit-a-pat like a racing hairtbeat, strugglin tae keep up wi her. Efter a faist five meenit walk, his mither dauchled, as they reached the door o a grey heich biggin.
Mrs Morrison rang the bell, and far, far awa inbye the biggin, a wee tring echoed. Dauvit gulped and swallaed hard, a fish ooto watter. The muckle blue door yawned ajee and he fand hisself glowerin up inno the physog o a wumman o forty or fifty. She wis that heich she myndit the wee loon o a giraffe.
"Mrs Morrison, I presume?" quo the giraffe. "Allow me to introduce myself. Miss Helen Troy. And this will doubtless be young David. Just you leave the little chap with me, Mrs Morrison. Call back in half an hour. We'll be finished by then"
"Mummy's going to leave you now, dear, with the nice lady," quo Dauvit's mither fa wis o a suddenty nae his mither bit different craitur aathegither. He glowered at her, unable tae faddom fit wye she'd cheenged the wye she spakk.
"I'm sure he'll pass your IQ test, " his mither whispered in her new, fantoosh vyce,
"If he doesn't, the other schools are miles away. And the town's so busy, the roads are dangerous."
Miss Helen Troy wis doonpittan.
"I appreciate all that, Mrs Morrison. But the school has standards to uphold. Our places are much sought after. We can afford to be choosy. Rest assured, the test is completely fair."
The bairn stood like a tennis net, wi the baa o sklaik batted back and forrit atween the twa spikkers far abeen him in faist, fremmit English. Fin his mither turned and left, Miss Helen Troy took his haun and steered him inno a derk wee chaumer wi a
windae. There was nae heating at aa in the chaumer, bit there was a lang, low table, wi ane bairn-sized seat drawn up tae it, and a bigger seat nearby, far his inquisitor wid sit. On the thin blue carpet, ower in a far neuk, an auncient teddy bear fizzled him wi a glaissy ee.
"Sit down, dear," quo the giraffe."Make yourself comfortable."
Miss Helen Troy, Dauvit decided, wis a radio body. The anely fowk he kent fa spak like yon bedd inside the radio. He hid ay thocht they wad be wee fowk, real midgets. Bit maybe they anely dwinnlet awa fin they gaed back tae bide inside the wireless. He hidna kent they could exist at aa ootside the radio. He winnert if there were mony o them an, if so, far they bedd.
The wifie opened a timmer kist and set oot a boorich o breets on the table afore him. "Now dear," she leed, "We're going to play a little game. I'm going to say the animal's name, and you're going to point to it, to show me you know which one it is. That's a nice game, isn't it?"
Miss Helen Troy then tuik oot a wee a notebook, wi rows of boxies on ilkie page an metal rings proddin the pages up at the tap. She raiked in her leopardskin handbag and fished oot a black fountain pen. She yarked aff the lid and poised the inky tip wi its slit nib ower the page, ready tae merk aff the wee loon's scores.
"Cow. Show me a cow," she speired.
The loon sat, swinging his legs, huffin. He didna like the radio wifie. He didna like strangers at aa. Nae adult hid iver speired him questions like that afore. It wis a feel game. Adults kent the names o aathin. Foo did she hae tae speir at him fur the answers? She wis a nesty wifie. She wis trying to trick him. There wisna
a cow on the table. Dauvit hid niver heard the word cow used o onything on thon table. On the table, there wis a coo, a grumphie, dyeukies, chukkens, yowes, a tyke, a kittlie and a cuddy.
The wifie grew ill-naturet. "You're not trying dear," she raged at him. "All right, all right. We'll try another animal. Show me a
The loon looked up at her dumfounert. Anely ane wird in twa o fit cam ooto her moo did he unnerstaun. He decided tae ignore her, and play wi the toy breets insteid. They waurna as gweed tae play wi as real breets, of coorse. Last wikk, Uncle Dod hid let him inno the byre efter the new calf wis born, and he'd gotten tae pet it, and let it sook his fingers, aa slivvery and milky it made his fingers feel, bit he hidna myndit, he'd dried them on the strae roon the mither coo's bed. He'd bedd aside the calfie aa efternoon, listening tae the souns o the byre, the clank of the herd tethered in their staas, the saft lowin o the heifers, the squeaks and scuffles o the rottans in the beddin, and the sweesh of the swallas that bedd aneth the byre's eaves. The radio wifie michtna be nice
but he likit her plastic fairmyaird.
Anither wifie powked her snoot roon the side o the door. "How's it going?" she fuspered.
"It beggars belief," sighed the giraffe. " I wonder if he's autistic. I've had more response from a moron. He's certainly very low on the scale. I'll get him to do a drawing, and then try one last animal."
"David dear," she roared at him, as if he wis deaf. "If I give you a piece of paper, will you draw me a house?"
The loon nodded, slowly. Paper and pencil war gaen tae him.Cannily, he drew a single squar. Gin the wifie hid speired, he wid hae telt her that he hid drawn her hoose - a radio. She glowered at the feenished drawin in begeck.
"Is this all? Don't you want to add more? A garden, maybe? A roof? Windows?" The voice, risin bi degrees in the fremmit spikk, unsattled him. Aabody kent a radio didna hae ony o these things. She was a glekit, nesty vratch.
Wi an tyauve, the radio wifie tried ae last shotty at winnin throw tae him.
"Show me a horse, then. All little boys like horses. Everyone knows what a horse looks like. Show me the horse."
He kent then that she thocht he was feel, thick as parridge. He luikit roon the table. Finally he pickit up the dug, tho he kent it wis wrang. Tae please her. Tae show he was trying. He didna like the radio wifie thinkin he wis daft.
She frooned. "No!" she said in an ill-naturet wye, pyntin tae the plastic cuddy. His een follaed her jabbin finger. The shelt seemed to be grinnin, lauchin at him, makkin a feel o
him. He couldna answer back. Adults war aye richt, even fin they war wrang. He began tae showd back and forrit on the seat, his hauns tucked atween his legs. Rain treetled doon the windae. As if mirrorin the rain, watter sterted tae treetle slowly doon his legs, the weet, hett sticky piddles syping inno his socks. It collekit in a wee puil on the radio wifie''s carpet.
In a fine fizz, the wifie left the room. He could hear her, spikkin tae anither big body. "The wretched child's wet himself. Is there any sign of his mother?"
And syne, a reeshle o paper, "Of course he's failed. Not the sort we want to enrol here anyway. I doubt he could string two sensible words together. Didn't even know what a horse was. A horse, for God's sake!" And the radio wifie whinnied a heich, shrill lauch.
Later yon day, bathed and towelled and cosy in jammies an safties, he sat doon at hame tae play wi his toys. Oot cam the yowes, the coos, the grumphies and the dyeukies.
"Are ye nae takkin the shelt ooto the barn?" his faither speired. "Ye ken ye ay play wi the shelt. If yer a guid loon, we'll veesit Uncle Dod on Setterday an gie ye a turn roon the park on his cuddy, Major."
The wee curly heid, booed ower the farmyaird, shook a firm no.
"I dinna like shelties noo," quo the littlin. "An I dinna think I iver will again."