Rough Scan
~X~
 
Miss CELANDINE has been left alone for a week-end, and she's had me away to the Theeter-a place I've no' been in since my Aunty Bell took me to see the Pantomine when I was a lassie. I was sweir to go, but she said it was a fine piece ca'ed Hamlet, and it would learn me no' to marry my diseased husband's brother-and me never been married on onybody's brother! However, she took seats in the back row of the dressed circle; but, deed, some of the ladies looked as if they had come away afore they had put all their clothes on; they must have been ditherin' wi' cold.
We landed at the Theeter in good time, and I was thankfu' to get settled afore they screwed down the gas.
Up went the curtain, and the first thing we saw was a black darkness-it minded me of the Cinema. Efter a wee whilie we made out that there was two or three men somewhere speakin' high English. They let on that they saw a ghost - a perfeck haver. I saw it fine mysel'; it was just a gentleman takin' the air. They said it went away when the cock crew, but I never heard a cock; no' me.
The next thing we saw was a king and a queen and a lot of ither folk (queer-lookin' tickets they were!) sittin' in a room with a stone floor, and long blue curtains hangin' at the back. They were an awfu' length; it will be a job to get them shaken at the cleanin'-time; I doubt they'll be obleeged to send them out. Maist of the company was dressed in light clothes; the king was in red, and the queen had on lilac and green; but there was one young gentleman all in deep blacks. We found out that he was Hamlet, although the king didna seem very sure whether he was his cousin or his son; mind you, that was peculiar, if he didna ken- who would? Anyway, he was lookin' very poorly; he was terrible thin in the legs, and pale in the face, and he was aye holdin' his hand to his chest, uneasy-like; I doubt it would be the indigestin'. Miss Celandine said that a soda-mint tabloid would afford immediate relief, but mebbe he would get a mouthfu' of spirits behind the scenes. Anyway, when his friends recommended him to come away out and see the ghost, to brighten him up, like, he said he would go, although I didna think he was very keen about it, and the night-air was no' the thing for him at a'. Luckily it was grand weather-the sky was just bleezin' wi' stars. I was glad to see he had put a cloak about him, for the ghost wasna' forret when first they arrived. He came in a wee whilie, though, and wagged on Hamlet to come away with him, for he wanted to speak a meenit. Away they went thegither, Hamlet keepin' at a respeckful distance, and then they reappeared on the very same spot as they were afore. But the ither two gentlemen had played the kip; they were gey nervish-like. Hamlet wasna' long of findin' out that the ghost was his poor papaw, dressed as usual in his everyday suit; he had died, appearin'ly, no' very long syne. He minded me of the United Free Minister at Carldoddie; he's an awfu' slow speaker, but yon ghost was worse. What for can they no' come away wi' it? He gave us a long discourse about him bein' murdered when he was doverin' in the gairden-just a make-up. It was terrible wearisome, and fine I knew that when he said "Brief let me be," he would be anither ten meenits. That's aye the way. "A few words in conclusion" is a fair deception.
They've a way in the English Church of sayin' "And now" when the sermon's done, to let the congregation know that it's time to rise to their feet. But it is liable to cause disappintment, as the young ladies and me fand out when we were in London. We went to a church ca'ed St Gengulphusses, where there was a grand preacher. But he was away for a change of air, and the minister that preached was nothing by-ordinar except for length. At last we hears "And now," and more nor half of the congregation flew to their feet without waitin' for the rest of the sentence, which was far from bein' what they had hoped, for it was just, "to pass to the practical part of our text." The folk sat down again, disjaskit-like, tryin' to look as if they had been gettin' up anyway, and the ones that was only half-way up was thankfu'. The next time the minister said "And now," they were feared to trust their ears. It would learn them no' to be in such a hurry, mebbe.
To return to the subjeck.
There was a young lady in the piece, and her papaw; he was aye to the fore, givin' good advice. But mebbe folk didna take it, for there was naething but a stramash from beginnin' to end. I didna like the Hamlets-no' as a faimly. First the son turned queer-no' exackly mad, but just no' a' there, so to say. He was gey daft the first time we saw him, and "A Gowk at Yule will no' be bright at Beltane." Then the young lady but to follow suit; her poor papaw's death, through bein' accidentally murdered, turned her brain. But, to tell you the truth, I couldna understan' half the story. What for could they no' speak plain and sensible like ither folk? They aye began at the tail-end of the maitter-a fair provoke. But that's the way wi' grand language. I've notticed it whiles in the Psalms of David set to metre - see Psalm Forty-two: "His loving-kindness yet the Lord command will in the day." It'll be poetry.
I was beginnin' to yawn long afore the story was ended. I never heard folk speak as even on in my life afore; it was wearisome to hear them.
The last scene was a sma' private massacre, like. When it was feenished there was three lyin' dead, and one sittin' ditto, namely, the queen upon the throne. Hamlet was the last to suggnumb, he was makin' remarks as usual when the curtain came down. We were all standin' up to get out when in came the whole troop hand in hand, with a gentleman in private clothes in chairge of them; the folk clapped their hands, and Hamlet and his papaw and mamaw bowed and smiled (the best of friends appearin'ly), and the drowned young lady came forret too, and then away they went, and away we went, thankfu' to get away home to our beds, and it past eleven o'clock at night.