“But Grandpa’s dead,” I said. He laughed again.
“Oh, that’ll be what they told the little ‘uns. ‘He’s dead, passed away.’ But that’s acos they won’t admit it. No, they won’t, the cowards…” Now I really worried for his sanity.
“Won’t admit what?” I asked. Oh no! To my eternal shame, I was talking almost with his accent. It was an annoying habit I had, of accidentally picking up other people’s accents. Bother, bother, bother!
“That I disappeared, you know, right into the hill. Thought they were seeing things, they did, but I didn’t come out again, and they said I was dead. I was there, you know, at my own funeral. But it weren’t a funeral, cos I weren’t dead, and so there weren’t no body.” I was finding his muttering difficult to understand. He acted like an old, old man, but he wasn’t, not at all.
“I’m rambling,” he said suddenly, sitting bolt upright. “I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself.” His voice had changed, it was no longer so old man-like. It fitted his face better.
“You said you were my grandfather …” I prompted uncertainly.
“That’s right, and so I am,” he said, smiling. “But you doesn’t know my name, do you, lass?”
“Well, no,” I said.
“Me name’s Tom. Aye, they say I had another name, once, but that no one remembers, not even me.” A long silence followed this statement.
“You say you disappeared, into the hill?” I said, more to break the silence than because I was interested.
“Aye. And if you sit yerself down, I’ll tell you the story.”