Uncle Tom

THE SETTIN' O' THE TABLE

But, my word! I can tell ye that whan the fine white linen table-cloth was laid, as white's the driven snaw and newly through Mistress Clavers's patent mangle, and the steak-an'-veal pie laid oot at the place whaur Mister Goudie was to sit, and the London buns at the ither en', near the tea-cosy, and the aipple-terts and cookies and abernethy biscuits nearer the middle beside the fresh butter and the best ploom-jam - for an abernethy biscuit maks a fine feenish to yer tea-and a bit fresh butter and ploom-jam jist "pits the lid on," as ma faither used to say - my word! it wis a pictur that ye'll no' see in every hoose, so ye'll no, so ye'll no.

Did the Goudies forget the fleurs, dae ye think? No' them; for whit kind o' pairty could onybody hae without fleurs; but although it's no' easy to buy rale fleurs in October they had gotten, wi' their auld Uncle Sandy's legacy, a gless-case fu' o' fine rid peanna roses, that hadna been clippit in ony gairden, but that lookit mair nairtral than them ye see in ony weel keepit gairden whan the plashan rain has knockit the colour an' music oot o' them. For they say that the maist o' fleurs can sing like ony lintie or yella-yite that taks the tune frae the wee lark the twitter-twitters up in the blue sky. An' we often notice that rid fleurs on the table maks folk talk quite herty at a pairty and that blue yins or white yins maks them sit lookin' at yin anither as mim's a May puddock. Me and Mistress Goudie had scarcely time to arrange the fower glasses o' peanna roses on their weel-filled table whan there was a heavy trampin' on the stairs and a chap at the door, and here's Mister and Mistress Blane lookin' blue an' shirpet-like and chitterin' wi' the cauld. The Goudies didna ken whaur to look, so it seems, they felt that kinna guilty, but the Blanes helpit them oot o' the dilemma by sayin' that there wis a gran' dracht o' wind through the close-mooth an' that they hadna had sich a blaw-oot since they wis at the Shopekeepers' Ball, an' that wisna yesterday.

So they jist laughed it aff, and the Goudies was noo free to turn their attentions to the civeelities expeckit frae folk in their poseetion whan they ask their freens to a pairty.

It turned oot that the Blanes had shut their shope at three in the efternin to alloo Mrs Blane to pit the feenishin' touches on her green gingham frock wi' the puce flounces, and a stitch here and there on the blue-beadet trimmen' o' her crimson doalman.

The twa o' them micht hae been sittin' for their foatigraf. Mr Blane lookit that braw-although a wee like a waasp-in his cordit waiskit wi' yella and black stripes, a spoatit tie and swally-tail coat that jist fitted him "doon tae the grun," as they say nooadays, although that wid be a thochtless exagravation.

"I'm prood to see ye, Mrs Blane, noo that I hae time tae speak tae ye," says Mrs Goudie, "Ye're lookin' that sonsie in

yer new doalmen, and yer frock is jist perfecshun; whit a wark it man hae taen tae stitch thegither thae yerds and yerds o' flounces. And yer bunnet, wi' thae brod silk ribbons, it man hae cost a nice penny. And that bonnie sulver ornament, wi' the twurly-wurlies on it, micht 'a' set-aff the Queen o' Shebah.

"It wis verra thochfu' o' you and the gudeman, and it sets oot yer Sawbath claes, and forby it was jist rale kind o' ye biath tae preen fleurs on the breest o' them whan ye was comin' to oor pairty."

"The rid dalyahs," says Mistress Blane, "did ye growe them on the back green, or in the fleur-poats at the kitchen winda?"

"Ugh!" says Mrs Goudie, "but I'm forgettin' Mr Blane, he's that quate, and quate men are sae likely tae be forgotten in a worl' that seems tae be gaun tapsalteerie.

"I'm rale gled to see ye, Mr Blane, and lookin' sae braw in yer stripet waiskit, and that tie wi' the green-an-blue spoats is jist ma rale taste. Some folk says that 'blue an' green's a shame tae be seen,' but whit nonsense folk oaften talks! For, dae we no' see, on a simmer's day, the bonnie glint o' the blue sky keekin' through the green o' the trees, an' whit sicht could gledden the hert mair nor that?