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Poems and Stories from Laura Wright
Child of the Mountain


I recently wrote you over my sending you some of my work, I was translating it into Modern Scots. I have finished my first piece.
    It is a short tale titled, "Barin o' the Ben," or, "Child of The Mountain." I am sending you both English and Scots versions.  What began as a simple exercise in Scots, turned into an actual story. It is a very simple piece, it was very different from my usual novels. However, I enjoyed writing it.
    I have found it both challenging and rewarding to learn this language. I have been familiar with other Germanic languages, however have never attempted something such as this. I am both surprised and amazed that so many usage's and words from Scots are so familiar to our Appalachian English. We live in Southwestern Virginia, and that is the language in our area. So many words and pronunciations from Scots language, are used in ours. That has helped greatly.

The Barin o’ The Ben

The nicht wis sour an’ awfu. A leuked oot the windae tae ken whit wis ongaun. The wather wis waesome an waefu. Doun the brae, awa fra ma hoose, a wee, tint lad, ettlin tae ma gairden. He wauked throu the meidae an’ roond the watter. He wis aw bi hissel an’ sae peetiefu taw me.

Ootby, whaur the loch wis froze. The glen wis ayont ma yaird, an’ the snaw wis licht. A wisna feardie, a bided ma hoose sin a wis a laddie. A wis awa uise tae a lane hoose.

He wis a bonnie, waefu bairn. He wis greetin ower fra the loch. His wee heid, kenspeckle in the eenin snaw. Weel, a’m thinkin a tak the lad an’ whit for nae? A wis bi masel and dinna hae a guidman, nae wean o’ ma ain. A wis verra waesome an’ I cry doun ower ma waefu laddie. Aw hairmless an’ cauld. Nae mither an’ nae fither tae fess him hame. A puir wean, oot in a cauld an’ veecious nicht.

A seen ma bonnie, orra veesitor, an’ a thocht he wis hungert an’ hae nae tea. A byled ma kail an’ wadna ett it aw. A thocht he wis awfu cauld oot wi’t only duddie breeks an’ wee buits.

The nicht wis bleck, bleck’s a slae. A wis guan oot tae fess him, an’ a cam bi the loch. The wee lad wis gane aff o’ frae the brae. A leuked aw throu ma gairden. He wis gane.

I cam hame an’ a mynd tae leuk fur him eenicht. Thare he wis, in the nicht. aye nicht he wis oot in the cauld. Monie nichts wi’t snaw, monie nichts wi’t nae snaw. Whit for the wee wean traivle in the nicht. A didna ken, a didna ken wit for he wis thare.

Thon treen aucht tae ma fither, an ma gutchen, an’ siclike. A niver forgit fowk, an’ a didna ken the bairn. A wis niver acquent’d wi’t him. A ken ma braes an’ bens, wha wis the we fremmit wha wis freends wi’t the muin? He leuked hame in the muinlicht.

A wis gaun in tae toun, sin a awa gang thare tae fess ma melk an bried.It wis a cauld, cauld Januar day, an’ a shak in ma shuin. The plainstaines war cauld and froze. A wis gang hail-heidit fur the wee femmit, an’ whit wis he wantin’? Whit wis the wee lad leukin fur?

Hyne awa, doun the toun, thare wis a widae wumman. A gang tae ken whit she ken. Fowks put her gas at a peep an’ staund yount frae her. A wis staund like a stoukie, an’ a tak the rue fut trystin’ her. Wis she the deil clashes lauch at?

Wis she daftie? Whit a muckle cry doun, I thocht she wis naething tae me. She gae me a fremmit leuk, an’ than she wis waesome. Afore innin, she ken whit wis in ma mynd. She rashed ower tae whaur a wis an’ she poued me awa, in tae the close. She greeted tae me wi’t awfu torn. "Thoo seen ma bairn! My bonnie, wee bairn!"

A wis strucken wi’t the thocht of the braw laddie. "Ay," a begoud. "A seen the bonnie lad. He traivelt bi nicht an’ stoppit at the och, bi the gairden."

She shak fur a meenit, an’t she smous. "Ay, ma bairn."

"Whit for the bairn traivle wi’t nae shaw an’ duddie breeks? Cauld wather is awfu."

She leuked at me an’ smous, a waesome an’ yang smou. Fur the first time, she wis a bonnie wumman. Fowk spak o’ her sae sour an’ gruesome. A snell swaw o’ sorrae happit us. She drapped her poke an’ lauked awa. "My bairn dee’d lang syne. He wis soumin in the loch an’ he drount. His fither dee’d ayont the shallaes, leuking fur his bairn. A’m no carin nae mair fur oucht, awa. Ma bairn an’ ma guidman wis aathing tae me."

She crack tae me, "Mynd ye, a ken thare thegether wi’t Nyod. A misst ma barin an’ ma guidman sae awfu. A disna ken aabodie seen eething o’ thaim. Thenk ye fur spurin."

A acquented a freend, an’ a lairnt o’ ma veesitor. He awa trysts aanicht. Awa leukin fur his mither.

Efter a time, a wis wantin tae ken whit wis thare. Ootby ma loch. Whit wis the wean leukin’ fur? A cam tae the watters an’ I seen wee buits hae traivled ma gairden. Wee feet had gane throu ma flouers, an comed tae the watter.

A aft mynd, he wis leukin’ fur his mither. A mynd that she wis leukin’ fur him an aw. The morn a fess ma crummock an’ grue in the cauld. The loch wis bonnie in the glen, an aw happit wi’t snaw. A bonnie morn wi’t a bricht an’ braw sin. A lat be the lad. He wisna daein’ eething tae me...


The Child of The Mountain

The night was bleak and sickly. I looked out the window, to see what was going on. The weather was lonely and sad. Down the hill, away from my house, a little, lost boy was going towards my garden. He was all by himself, and so pitiful to me.

Out there, where the lake was frozen. The valley was beyond my yard, and the snow was light. I was no coward, I had lived in my house alone, since I was a boy. I was always accustomed to an empty home.

He was a sweet, but sad child. He was crying over from the lake. His tiny head was conspicious in the evening snow. Well, I am thinking that I’ll take in the child, why not? I lived by myself and didn’t have a husband, nor any children. I was very sad with my life, and the sad child. He was out there, harmless and cold. No mother or father to bring him home. A poor child out in such a cold and vicious night.

I watched my pretty and odd visitor, I thought he was probably hungry and had not ate dinner. I prepared my cabbage soup earlier, and didn’t eat much at all. I thought he would have to be awfully cold, out in the night with only ragged breeches and tiny boots.

The night was black, black as coal .I was going out to get him and I came by the lake. The little child was gone far off the hill. I looked all through my garden, he was gone.

I came home and I remembered to look for him, every night. There he was, in the night, and every night he was out in the cold. Many nights with snow, many nights with none. Why did the child travel in the night? I didn’t know, I didn’t know why he was there.

Those forests belonged to my gather, and my grandfather, back for hundreds of years. I didn’t know the child, I was niver acquainted with him. I knew my hills and my mountains, who was the little stranger who was friends with the moon? He looked at home in the moonlight.

I was going to town, since I always go there to buy my milk and bread. It was a cold, cold January day, and I shuddered in my shoes. The pavement was cold and frozen. I was always thinking of the small stranger, and what was he looking for?

Far away, down town, there was a widow woman. I went to see if she would know about it. People always try to make her look bad, and avoid her. I was standing there, not knowing what to say. Was she the devil that gossips laughed at?

Was she mad? What great sadness, I thought she would be nothing to me. She gave me a strange look, and then she was sorrowful. Before even an introduction, she knew what was in my mind. She rushed over to where I was and she pulled me in the courtyard. She cried greatly as she said, "You seen my child! My beautiful, tiny child!"

I was stricken with the thought of the fine lad. "Yes," I began. "I watched the little boy. He traveled by night at stopped at the lake, by the garden."

She sobbed for a minute and she smiles ,"Yes, my child."

"Why does he travel with no coat and ragged breeches? Cold weather is harsh."

She looked at me and smiled, a melencholoy smile. For the first time, she was young and beautiful. People talked about her so horribly. A fierce wave of sadness covered both of us. She dropped her bag and looked away. "My baby died years ago. He was swimming in the lake and he drowned. His father died beyong the shallows, looking for his child. I don’t care none for anything, anyways. My baby and my husband were everything to me.

She continued, "Mind you, I knew their together with God. I missed my child and my husband so terribly. I didn’t know anybody had seen anything of them. Thank you for telling me."

I had acquainted a friend, and I learned of my visitor. He always visits every night. Always looking for his mother.

After a time, I was wanting to know what was there, out by my lake. What was the baby seeing? I came to the water and I saw tiny boots had traveled my garden. Little feet had gone through the flowers and came to the water.

I often think he was looking for his mother. I know she was looking for him as well. That morning I got my walking stick and shuddered in the cold. The lake was beautiful in the valley, all covered with snow. A beautiful morning with a bright and fine sun. I left the child alone, he wasn’t doing anything to me.


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