• December Bride
  • Part Three


laughed. "leave him to me, soldier. I know him well,
and where he comes from." "Fair enough," said the
Guardsman. He placed Petie in a corner seat and
peered down into his face. "Good-night, old one,"
he said. Petie looked up at him silently, without
understanding. The soldier grinned and nodded to the
conductor as he left the bus. "He’s all right now?"
"As right as rain, mate," answered the conductor,
jerking the bell, as the bus moved off, a spark of
intelligence came- into the old man's eyes. He staggered
to his feet and peered out of the bus window. "Thank
ye, son, thank yel" he cried. On the others side of
the street a tall figure in khaki passed under a
street lamp and disappeared in the gloom without
looking back.

As the bus crept up over the top of the Castlereagh
Hills, a squall of rain struck it, slashing the windows
with black and silver. Here and there along the road
to Ardpatrick the bus stopped in the darkness and a
man or woman entered or left. None of them gave more
than a passing glance at the bowed figure of the old
man who swayed weakly to the lurching of the bus, his
hands grasping the seat in front of him. And slowly
in Petie's mind a small black bud of terror grew and
spread. He stretched down and groped blindly round
his legs and feet. "Oh, God, me dog I’ve left me
wee dog!" he cried out. He rose to his feet and
blundered down the bus to the door. The conductor
caught him and hurled him into another seat. "Sit
down ye ould fool!" he shouted "D’ye want to break
your bloody neck!" "But I’ve left me wee dog behind
me! Oh God, he’ll be kilt wi' all those people and

"Ach, not at all, the police'll lift him and
keep him for ye."

Bus, Terror
Linen Hall Library, "Hanna239", Northern Ireland Literary Archive, accessed Sun, 05/09/2021 - 17:45, https://www.niliteraryarchive.com/content/hanna239