• December Bride
  • Part Two



Agnes shook her head impatiently. "I did not.”

"And why for not?” persisted Hamilton, as she lifted up Andrew.

"I went into Bridie’s and told her that ye bid Con to Rathard for Andra’s
birthday. ’That's kindly o' Mr Echlin,' says she, ’but I'm no sure he can
go. His da's no at home.' And then she goes lilting round the house
and making no shift to wipe the wean's face. 'Bridie,' says I, 'leave over
your fooling like a good woman, and answer me - is the wean coming or no?
'Ach, Agnes,' says she, 'sure I havena a clean jersey to put on the cratur.'
But I could see by the look o' her that it was only a put-off. 'Peh,' says
I and left her."

"Maybe you’re satisfied now" cried Sarah, her eyes bright with

"Maybe the wean hadna a clean Jersey for all my knowing or your
knowing," returned Hamilton calmly, and said no more about.it.

But this initial unpleasantness was soon forgotten, and they sat
down to the birthday tea. The young Andrew sat at the head of the table
in his grandfather's great rope-bottomed chair and had three slices of
deil's bun, a dark rich bread flavoured with treacle, spice and fruit,
and usually kept for Hallowe’en.

After the tea the gifts, Agnes brought him an old silver caddy
spoon with which to sup his porridge; Petie gave him a money-box made
from a cows horn; Sarah hanselled him by dropping a brand new shilling
into his breek’s pocket; Hamilton gave him a carved boretree whistle,
and,Frank, slipping out mysteriously amid all the gift-giving, came
back again leading a black-nosed, delicate-footed kid.

"What d'ye say to that now, son?" asked Sarah.

Bridie, Gifts
Linen Hall Library, "Hanna152", Northern Ireland Literary Archive, accessed Fri, 01/28/2022 - 08:34, https://www.niliteraryarchive.com/content/hanna152?page=1