Rough Scan
~XIV~
 
HOTEL, FLORENCE
April 190-
 
DEAR CHRISTINA, - Mr Scott lives in a flat. We took the parcel to him this forenoon. The house is no' in a genteel locality, and just as well, for the brown paper was jimp, and it opened out a good bit and let through a white tape string. Miss Celandine was mad, and even Miss Jean said she would have preferred a parcel with some sense of decency.
Florence is a fine flat town, I'll no' deny that; but if Edinburgh was laid out as flat, it would be bigger nor Florence. There are bonny hills round about, with self-contained houses strinkled on the braes, very like Corstorphine. We had a drive in the afternoon in a public park they call the Casheeny. We hired a machine by the hour-a sort of an open cab-the chairge being much the same as we pay in Edinburgh. The horse was much the same too, but worse :- no' a stylish shape; high at the head and tail, and an awfu hollow in its back. But I'll warrant you never saw a horse in Scotland with pheasant's feathers stuck in its head like a tirara, and a red worsit tossel dangling under its chin! Poor beastie, it took its time, and I enjoyed mysel' fine. Miss Celandine said she didna care for funerals as a rule, but she's aye for driving like Jehu. By the time we got home it was one hour and forty-seven minutes, chairged two hours. Cabmen are terrible imposing-they are that.
The porter here-he's an oldish man-can speak English fine through having resided in Glasgow a good few years. He is married on a Glasgow woman; poor thing, it must be a waesome change for her. He started by remarking "Good morning," or "Fine wezzer," but foreigners are quicker at makin' friends than Scotch folk, and when the young ladies were in at the tabbledot (that's what they call pot-luck), we had a chat thegither at the front door. He aye sits there in a kind of a glass box to watch the folk come in and out, in a blue coat with brass buttons, and a white shirt.
"I haf one wife," says he.
"The usual number." says I, civil, but distant-like.
"Zee usual?" says he.
"Number," says I, but he didna lift me, so I changed the subjeck.
"I hope your wife is very well," I says.
"Much veryweller, thankyou," says he to me.
Appearingly she had been ill, so I asked him if she was lying. Would you believe that he was black affronted! He thought I meant was she tellin' lies! Foreigners must be awfu slow at the uptak; and him been in Glasgow for very near seven year. When I got him pacifeed (it took a good whihie), he made out to say "She not in bed lies," and invited me to my supper at their house next Setterday. He goes home every night late, but on Setterdays he gets away soon. It will be a fine ploy, and I'll be glad to meet with a Glasgow woman: I hope she's no' had time to take on the Italian accent.
Miss Jean has been lookin' kind-o' dwobbly the last two-three days. She reads over much; I'm a powerful reader mysel', but I dinna approve of young folk aye puttin' their eyes out over their books. I'm thinkin' mebbe she needs strengthening, and I'm going to try some stuff that I saw well recommended in an adverteezement at the end of the guide-book. It said "Absolute Specialities for stomach sufferers, and Convalescent People. Double Beefsteak, the best and most triumphing reconstituent, preferred by Stomach sufferers. To sale at the behind-coming shops." One of the shops mentionate was Danieli Calderai. I'll warrant that's neither more nor less than Daniel Calder in plain English, so I'm just goin' away out to get some of the double beefsteak from him. Miss Jean says she's no' a stomach sufferer. But you dinna ken; she might be if the disease wasna arrested before it began.
Never speak to me about the blue Italian sky, and the fine steady weather! Losh! it can rain in Italy just the same as it does down the west coast of Scotland: you can see that by the size of the umberellies the folks carries. Miss Celandine says they let on that thon out-sized umberellies are for the sun! But I'm no' sae blate. What do you think I saw up in a shop-window in plain English? No less than" Specialities in water-tight collars and cuffs." It's no' a wee shower that runs down your neck and up your sleeves, I'm thinkin'.
The Dwamo's no' a river at all, it's just anither of these great big Churches; and, if you'll believe me, there's more picturs here nor what there was at Rome! When I went with the young ladies to a place they call the Pity Palace, thinkin' I would see a grand king's house, here's one room after another full of nothing but picturs :- no beds, tables, chairs, nor nothing. It's terrible to think of the valuable time that's been putten off pentin' picturs. And there was a good few statutes that minded me of the Irishman that said he put on as little as he could avoid: I didna see how they could have avoided putten on less.
When we got through with the Pity Palace, which was no' before my corn was neither to haud nor bind, Miss Jean says, "Now we'll go to the Oofitsie." "What will that be, if you please, mem?" says I. "Oh, Marget," says she, "you know it's a picture-gallery." I was like to drop, when I heard it, and glad was I when Miss Celandine said she wasna for any more picturs for a whilie, and away we went home to our teas. There was an American lady standin' at the door, and she started to ask me questions. She wanted to know if the young ladies had seen the Dehlybellyarty. "No' that I'm aware of, mem," says I. "They must go," she says, says she, "it's one of the most elegant picture-galleries in Europe." "Mercy on us!" says I, "how many more are there?" She smiled kind-of pitiful like, and said there was a good few. She told me she was feeling worn-out and nervous, for she had been "drifting around trying to appreciate things" for some months. Poor lady, I was wae for her; it didna seem to go with her heart. But I had to go and get off my boot, so I will draw this long letter to a close. - Your affectionate old friend,
 
MARGET POW