Rough Scan
~XVI~
 
HOTEL, FLORENCE
April 190-
 
DEAR CHRISTINA, - Setterday was the day I was away to my supper at Mrs Oppenrieder's house-her that is married on the hotel-porter here. He's no' an Italian though, but just a German from Swisserland. And who do you think she is? Jeanie Macgregor that was cook to the Miss Marjoribanks next door for seven year, before she went back to Glasgow! Her and me used to be real chief. She's stouter, and no' sae red in the face. She had on deep blacks; her good-mother died no' lang syne: the skirt was made fullish, with three folds round the foot. Black jet buttons. She looked no' bad in it.
We had our supper at the back of seven, and Jeanie asked the blessing. She started with "Oh Thou that carest for the sparrows and feedest the young ravens that call upon Thee" - I dinna mind the rest, but she brought it out fine, and didna omit to mention "the stranger at our table." That was me, and she couldna have felt more dumbfoundered to see me there nor what I was mysel'.
Mr Oppenrieder was very hearty. "Put yourself at home," says he to me, as soon as we opened our eyes, so I spread my hanky on my lap (I had on my Sabbath gown), and we started. We had a thing they call "lemm cottlet" - no' unlike mutton chops; and freetatar, and chelly-roll mit cream. I understand Mr Oppenrieder's English fine, but he didna take me up very quick. Jeanie had to tell him what I was saying in German more nor once. Figure her speakin' German like a lady! It sounded fine-just the same as Glasgow but different words. We had an improvin' conversation about pancakes, &c.; there's a deal to be learnt from foreigners: and Jeanie and me had a haven about the Miss Marjoribanks and the Edinburgh folk. She has got a good down-sittin', and a kind man. He told me on the road home that his wife was a sparefu' woman, meanin' "savin'" no doubt: she was aye that.
Jeanie gave me a packet of Lux home with me to wash my flannen petticoat with, and I've been readin' the bit Scotsman that was wrapped round the outside. It was all about the New York Stock Market - live stock appearingly. There's been a terrible fight there between bulls and bears: I wonder they wouldna think shame! I aye thought bull-fightin' was carried on in heathen lands like Spain, and no' in Christian countries. It said that the bears exerted pressure, and, efter the fight was over, "they were sitting on all speculative stocks." No doubt the poor beasties was glad to get a sit-down anywhere. The bulls went into a pool. There was nobody killed.
There's not a bird in Florence except the pigeons round about St Dwamo's Church: the folk has eaten all the sparrows - nesty greedy things! But mark you, there'll be a famine among their cats, and then they will mebbe find out that "What's in the wame's not in the testament." They will be wishin' the spruggs back again, if it's for nothing else but to remind them that the Lord careth for sparrows: many a time the chirpin' craturs has been a comfort to me.
It's a strange thing that the doos round about the Church are the very same colour as the edifice-black, and white, and vcllow-it hooks bonny when they flee up. Mebbe it's a miracle, but I'm no' sure.
So no more at present from yours etc.,
 
MARGET POW
 
P.S. - The porter gave me a fine fright yesterday. I was asking him when the train went to a place the young ladies wanted to see. "Zee train," says he, reading a printed nottice on the wall, "goes at two and forty-four; you will be all right if you go half an hour ago." "Preserve us all!" says I, "and us no' away yet!" "Do not lament," says he, concerned like, "zee train he go at two and forty-four; you and your ladies go at two and fourteen: it will be a very pleasant liddle dribb." So we were time enough, but he gave me a fright, mind you. - M.P.