Kidnapped conundrum solved
Davie enters the kitchen of the House of Shaws and sees a bxxxk
In Chapter 3 of Kidnapped, David Balfour is reluctantly admitted by his uncle to the kitchen of the House of Shaws, and looks around him. In the 1886 Young Folks text and in the first book edition (Cassells, 1886), he sees:
Half a dozen dishes stood upon the shelves…
In Barry Menikoffs transcription of the manuscript in the Huntington Library, the sentence begins
Half a dozen dishes stood upon the brick…
Looking at the manuscript, the last word seemed more like ‘brink’:
I thought that was a bit better, but neither word mades any obvious sense. I looked in the SND and OED, to no avail. I asked various experts, thinking that we might find a traditional feature of Scottish kitchens called ‘brick’ or ‘brink’, in a use that (I persuaded myself) hadn’t made it to the SND. Then Jeremy Hodges solved the problem, at a stroke:
the Scots word for a shelf is a ‘bink’. The Chambers Concise English-Scots Dictionary (p226) has the following:
shelf see also ledge, shelving; skelf, dale; (eg on a wall, for plates etc) bink; (by an old fireplace, for pots etc) bink, hud.
Of course! once you start seeing that second letter as ‘r’ it’s difficult to ‘unsee’ it and re-sort the marks in any other way. So many thanks to Jeremy. I see from the Concise Scots Dictionary (meaning 2) that ‘bink’ is also, more specifically, ‘a wall rack or shelf for dishes; a kitchen dresser’ (late 18-early 20 cent), also (meaning 3) ‘a hob on a freplace; a shelf, ledge etc. at the side of such’. (Perhaps we should see it as a dresser, since RLS replaces it with ‘shelves’.)
Jeremy thinks that the change was an example of Colvin ‘bowlderizing’, but actually we have no evidence of Colvin substituting one word for another off his own bat (punctuation and spelling was another matter), and anyway RLS was in full control of the proofs in 1886: this must be a change that RLS decided when going over the Young Folk proofs.