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Kit Kennedy, Ne’er-Do-Well
by [?]

Now I wonder,” with a flicker

Of the Old Ford in his eyes

As he watched the snow come thicker,

“Are the angels warm and rosy

When the snow-storms fill the skies,

As in summer when the sun

Makes their cloud-beds warm and cosy?

And I wonder if they’re sleeping

Through this bitter winter weather

Or aloft their watches keeping,

As the shepherds told of them,

Hosts and hosts of them together,

Singing o’er the lowly stable,

In that little Bethlehem!

Ford Bereton.”

“Kit Kennedy, ye are a lazy ne’er-do-weel–lyin’ snorin’ there in your bed on the back o’ five o’clock. Think shame o’ yoursel’!”

And Kit did.

He was informed on an average ten times a day that he was lazy, a skulker, a burden on the world, and especially on the household of his mother’s cousin, Mistress MacWalter of Loch Spellanderie. So, being an easy-minded boy, and moderately cheerful, he accepted the fact, and shaped his life accordingly.

“Get up this instant, ye scoondrel!” came again the sharp voice. It was speaking from under three ply of blankets, in the ceiled room beneath. That is why it seemed a trifle more muffled than usual. It even sounded kindly, but Kit Kennedy was not deceived. He knew better than that.

“Gin ye dinna be stirrin’, I’ll be up to ye wi’ a stick!” cried Mistress MacWalter.

It was a greyish, glimmering twilight when Kit Kennedy awoke. It seemed such a short time since he went to bed, that he thought that surely his aunt was calling him up the night before. Kit was not surprised. She had married his uncle, and was capable of anything.

The moon, getting old, and yawning in the middle as if tired of being out so late, set a crumbly horn past the edge of his little skylight. Her straggling, pallid rays fell on something white on Kit’s bed. He put out his hand, and it went into a cold wreath of snow up to the wrist.

“Ouch!” said Kit Kennedy.

“I’m comin’ to ye,” repeated his aunt, “ye lazy, pampered guid-for-naething! Dinna think I canna hear ye grumblin’ and speakin’ ill words there!”

Yet all he had said was “Ouch!”–in the circumstances, a somewhat natural remark.

Kit took the corner of the scanty coverlet and, with a well-accustomed arm-sweep, sent the whole swirl of snow over the end of his bed, getting across the side at the same time himself. He did not complain. All he said, as he blew upon his hands and slapped them against his sides, was–

“Michty, it’ll be cauld at the turnip-pits this mornin’!”

It had been snowing in the night since Kit lay down, and the snow had sifted in through the open tiles of the farmhouse of Loch Spellanderie. That was nothing. It often did that. But sometimes it rained, and that was worse. Yet Kit Kennedy did not much mind even that. He had a cunning arrangement in old umbrellas and corn-sacks that could beat the rain any day. Snow, in his own words, he did not give a “buckie”[1] for.

[Footnote 1: The fruit of the dog-rose is, when
large and red, locally called a “buckie.”]

Then there was a stirring on the floor, a creaking of the ancient joists. It was Kit putting on his clothes. He always knew where each article lay–dark or shine, it made no matter to him. He had not an embarrassment of apparel. He had a suit for wearing, and his “other clothes.” These latter were, however, now too small for him, and so he could not go to the kirk at Duntochar. But his aunt had laid them aside for her son Rob, a growing lad. She was a thoughtful, provident woman.