Robert Falconer by George MacDonald
Part II.--His Youth
Chapter XIII. Shargar's Arm.
Not many weeks passed before Shargar knew Aberdeen better than most Aberdonians. From the Pier-head to the Rubislaw Road, he knew, if not every court, yet every thoroughfare and short cut. And Aberdeen began to know him. He was very soon recognized as trustworthy, and had pretty nearly as much to do as he could manage. Shargar, therefore, was all over the city like a cracker, and could have told at almost any hour where Dr. Anderson was to be found--generally in the lower parts of it, for the good man visited much among the poor; giving them almost exclusively the benefit of his large experience. Shargar delighted in keeping an eye upon the doctor, carefully avoiding to show himself.
One day as he was hurrying through the Green (a non virendo) on a mission from the Rothieden carrier, he came upon the doctor's chariot standing in one of the narrowest streets, and, as usual, paused to contemplate the equipage and get a peep of the owner. The morning was very sharp. There was no snow, but a cold fog, like vaporized hoar-frost, filled the air. It was weather in which the East Indian could not venture out on foot, else he could have reached the place by a stair from Union Street far sooner than he could drive thither. His horses apparently liked the cold as little as himself. They had been moving about restlessly for some time before the doctor made his appearance. The moment he got in and shut the door, one of them reared, while the other began to haul on his traces, eager for a gallop. Something about the chain gave way, the pole swerved round under the rearing horse, and great confusion and danger would have ensued, had not Shargar rushed from his coign of vantage, sprung at the bit of the rearing horse, and dragged him off the pole, over which he was just casting his near leg. As soon as his feet touched the ground he too pulled, and away went the chariot and down went Shargar. But in a moment more several men had laid hold of the horses' heads, and stopped them.
'Oh Lord!' cried Shargar, as he rose with his arm dangling by his side, 'what will Donal' Joss say? I'm like to swarf (faint). Haud awa' frae that basket, ye wuddyfous (withy-fowls, gallows-birds),' he cried, darting towards the hamper he had left in the entry of a court, round which a few ragged urchins had gathered; but just as he reached it he staggered and fell. Nor did he know anything more till he found the carriage stopping with himself and the hamper inside it.
As soon as the coachman had got his harness put to rights, the doctor had driven back to see how the lad had fared, for he had felt the carriage go over something. They had found him lying beside his hamper, had secured both, and as a preliminary measure were proceeding to deliver the latter.
'Whaur am I? whaur the deevil am I?' cried Shargar, jumping up and falling back again.
'Don't you know me, Moray?' said the doctor, for he felt shy of calling the poor boy by his nickname: he had no right to do so.
'Na, I dinna ken ye. Lat me awa'.--I beg yer pardon, doctor: I thocht ye was ane o' thae wuddyfous rinnin' awa' wi' Donal' Joss's basket. Eh me! sic a stoun' i' my airm! But naebody ca's me Moray. They a' ca' me Shargar. What richt hae I to be ca'd Moray?' added the poor boy, feeling, I almost believe for the first time, the stain upon his birth. Yet ye had as good a right before God to be called Moray as any other son of that worthy sire, the Baron of Rothie included. Possibly the trumpet-blowing angels did call him Moray, or some better name.
'The coachman will deliver your parcel, Moray,' said the doctor, this time repeating the name with emphasis.
'Deil a bit o' 't!' cried Shargar. 'He daurna lea' his box wi' thae deevils o' horses. What gars he keep sic horses, doctor? They'll play some mischeef some day.'
'Indeed, they've played enough already, my poor boy. They've broken your arm.'
'Never min' that. That's no muckle. Ye're welcome, doctor, to my twa airms for what ye hae dune for Robert an' that lang-leggit frien' o' his--the Lord forgie me--Mr. Ericson. But ye maun jist pay him what I canna mak for a day or twa, till 't jines again--to haud them gaein', ye ken.--It winna be muckle to you, doctor,' added Shargar, beseechingly.
'Trust me for that, Moray,' returned Dr. Anderson. 'I owe you a good deal more than that. My brains might have been out by this time.'
'The Lord be praised!' said Shargar, making about his first profession of Christianity. 'Robert 'ill think something o' me noo.'
During this conversation the coachman sat expecting some one to appear from the shop, and longing to pitch into the 'camstary' horse, but not daring to lift his whip beyond its natural angle. No one came. All at once Shargar knew where he was.
'Guid be here! we're at Donal's door! Guid day to ye, doctor; an' I'm muckle obleeged to ye. Maybe, gin ye war comin' oor gait, the morn, or the neist day, to see Maister Ericson, ye wad tie up my airm, for it gangs wallopin' aboot, an' that canna be guid for the stickin' o' 't thegither again.'
'My poor boy! you don't think I'm going to leave you here, do you?' said the doctor, proceeding to open the carriage-door.
'But whaur's the hamper?' said Shargar, looking about him in dismay.
'The coachman has got it on the box,' answered the doctor.
'Eh! that'll never do. Gin thae rampaugin' brutes war to tak a start again, what wad come o' the bit basket? I maun get it doon direckly.'
'Sit still. I will get it down, and deliver it myself.' As he spoke the doctor got out.
'Tak care o' 't, sir; tak care o' 't. William Walker said there was a jar o' drained hinney i' the basket; an' the bairns wad miss 't sair gin 't war spult.'
'I will take good care of it,' responded the doctor.
He delivered the basket, returned to the carriage, and told the coachman to drive home.
'Whaur are ye takin' me till?' exclaimed Shargar. 'Willie hasna payed me for the parcel.'
'Never mind Willie. I'll pay you,' said the doctor.
'But Robert wadna like me to tak siller whaur I did nae wark for 't,' objected Shargar. 'He's some pernickety (precise)--Robert. But I'll jist say 'at ye garred me, doctor. Maybe that 'll saitisfee him. An' faith! I'm queer aboot my left fin here.'
'We'll soon set it all right,' said the doctor.
When they reached his house he led the way to his surgery, and there put the broken limb in splints. He then told Johnston to help the patient to bed.
'I maun gang hame,' objected Shargar. 'What wad Robert think?'
'I will tell him all about it,' said the doctor.
'Yersel, sir?' stipulated Shargar.
'Directly,' answered the doctor, and Shargar yielded.
'But what will Robert say?' were his last words, as he fell asleep, appreciating, no doubt, the superiority of the bed to his usual lair upon the hearthrug.
Robert was delighted to hear how well Shargar had acquitted himself. Followed a small consultation about him; for the accident had ripened the doctor's intentions concerning the outcast.
'As soon as his arm is sound again, he shall go to the grammar-school,' he said.
'An' the college?' asked Robert.
'I hope so,' answered the doctor. 'Do you think he will do well? He has plenty of courage, at all events, and that is a fine thing.'
'Ow ay,' answered Robert; 'he's no ill aff for smeddum (spirit)--that is, gin it be for ony ither body. He wad never lift a han' for himsel'; an' that's what garred me tak till him sae muckle. He's a fine crater. He canna gang him lane, but he'll gang wi' onybody--and haud up wi' him.'
'What do you think him fit for, then?'
Now Robert had been building castles for Shargar out of the hopes which the doctor's friendliness had given him. Therefore he was ready with his answer.
'Gin ye cud ensure him no bein' made a general o', he wad mak a gran' sojer. Set's face foret, and say "quick mairch," an' he'll ca his bagonet throu auld Hornie. But lay nae consequences upo' him, for he cudna stan' unner them.'
Dr. Anderson laughed, but thought none the less, and went home to see how his patient was getting on.