Rough Scan
April 190-
DEAR CHRISTINA, - YOU will see by the address that we have moved from Rome, and glad was I to see the last of it. The town was just cram-full of edifices, and I'm perfeckly worn-out, and thankfu' to get away to a place where there will be nothing to see. The packing was a job that I'm no' likely to forget in a hurry. The young ladies has collected as muckle trash as would fill a kist, and Miss Celandine was aye bringin' me one thing and another that she couldna get into her own box. The last thing was a stone sculpter of a person wantin' both the head and the tail, and the weight of I dinna ken what. Says Miss Celandine, "Take great care of that, Marget, please, for it is mebbe two thousand years old." "It's more, I would think, by the dirt o't," says I, very short-like, and I was just going to plump it into the basin when Miss Celandine let fly such a squeal that I stopped in terror. She was feared it would spoil in the washing, but I dinna think that even the Lady's Lily-white Laundry could hurt it. For peace sake I wrapped it round with a flannen petticoat, and put it in my box beside a green china dish, a bust of a sheep's head, and a pictur of Saint Sebastium that Miss Jean couldna squeeze in.
I had to take out Mr Scott's parcel to let the bust in, and carry it in my hand the whole way to Florence. We'll hand it in to-morrow, if we're spared; we have not been out-bye yet.
I didna buy anything in Rome mysel' except a pirn of cotton, No. 30 white.
You will no doubt be surprised to hear that there was a Scotch lady in the train belonging to Edinburgh: we had a fine collogue together. There was a terrible crowd at Rome station, and I couldna get a seat beside the young ladies, so I just ascended the first carriage I could see. There was only three ladies in it and a blackaviced-looking man that never spoke a word. He was mainly occupied with eating oranges all the road from Rome to Florence. At first I was feared it was a smoking-carriage by the smell, but there was nobody smoking when I got in. No sooner were we safe away from the station than the lady opposite me got out a cigarette, lighted it with a match, and commenced to smoke the very same as if she was a man! Did ever you hear tell of the likes of that? But just you wait. She said something to me (I was sittin' exackly opposite), in a foreign tongue, but I didna lift her, and she went on smoking away. Efter a whilie she took the cigarette out of her mouth and began to whistle "Lord, a little band and lowly." It was the sweetest music I had heard for many a long day; it minded me of the bairns singing their hymns in the Sabbath-school far across the water. The tune melted my heart and set my tongue going. Would you believe that the lady was a minister's widow? She had been away to Jerusalem helping to convert the heretick Jews, and here she was going away home for a holiday, and speaking about Jaffa and Jerusalem the same as Edinburgh folks speak about Portobella and Joppa! We had a most improvin' conversation; she was a fine speaker, and started on Predestination and Freewill as soon as her cigarette was done. Nothing dauntened her; she had chapter and verse for everything. The other ladies was Americans, and they joined in the conversation too. I couldna make out what religious seek they were members of; but I would think they belonged to the Atheist Church, they were that contradictious and ignorant. But mebbe they were not joined members at all. Any way they were ill-grounded in the faith-no firm hold on the devil or original sin at all, poor things; but they had the gift of the gab; I will say that. The noise they made, all speakin' at once, was like to deave me, and I was kind-of glad when Florence appeared on the horizon. The Scotch lady shook hands with me, real kind and free, and wae was I to see the last of her cheery face: I hadna had such a Christian conversation for many a long day. The lady said she hoped we would meet again, if no' in Edinburgh on the other side of Jordan, and, says she, "I have enjoyed our chat; you and I have something in common," alludin' to original sin, no doubt, for the American ladies was free from any sic thing, by their way o't.
See and no' aye be shakin' your duster ower the windy when posty is comin' be the house: there's back windies.
My old spentacles has cast up where the hielandman found the tongs.
My kind regairds to your mother. - Yours truly,