Rough Scan
~XVII~
 
WE'VE fallen in with Mrs Balcarres again-the Scotch lady that we became acquent with when we were traivellin' on the Continent-the one that used to give me a read of the Scotsman. We fand her by means of an advertizement. It was in the windy of the post-office: "Lost-a Purse, containing a small sum of money, between Staneriggs and the pier. Reward. Apply to Mrs Balcarres." We minded that she was celebrate for lossin' her purse, and the very day I read the nottice, here I meets her comin' down the road in a hurry to tell the folk at the shop her purse was found, so they could take down the intimation; she says she's aye lucky about gettin' things back. She knew me perfeckly, she said, and she asked me how I liked my own country efter bein' abroad; she's a real unostentaneous lady. She told me there was a nice letter in the paper about the smells of Edinburgh, so when Kirsty brought ben the Scottish Oracle, I read it. It's an interestin' subjeck, and I'm fair sick of readin' about birds day efter day for weeks thegither. I'm sure if they've asked once, "Do Woodcock carry their Young?" they've asked it a dozen times. And they hadna got it settled afore a Bohemian Waxwing come fleein' forret, and they argle-bargled about it till they were fair bumbazed. Then they wrott about Lloyd George as a stormy petrol-just a haver-but they couldna get their minds offa birds appearin'ly. "Corncrake carrying Young" was anither set-away, and "Blackbird attacks Mouse." What for can they no' write something usfu'? The letter about the smells of Edinburgh minded me that I had notticed a wild smell of the dog lately, so I showed Miss Celandine an advertizement about "Dry-clean your Dog." I didna ken what it meant mysel', but she said she knew fine-she had had her hair washed that way once in London-and she said she would try it on Granville Barker immedently, parteeclarly as there was some folks comin' to their teas in the efternoon, and he would be an affront the way he was. So she first showered him all over with oatmeal, thick; and then she set to work to brush it out. You never saw such a slaister! Kirsty had to lay a dust-sheet on the kitchen-floor, and here's Samson lyin' wrong side up, as white as snow, and Miss Celandine brushin' away as hard as she was able, and Master Barney helpin' her with an old tooth-brush, and baith of them like dusty millars! And then in comes Delilah to see what's goin' on; and she licked a' the bits of Samson she could get at, and made a perfeck porridge of the poor cratur. At the hinder end Kirsty had to come to the rescue with black soap and hot water, and she says there'll be no more dry-cleaned dogs in this house if she's to bide in it. Such a work she had to get the beast his naitral colour again! But he was awfu' proud to be so clean and smooth, and the company said he was a lovely dog, and petted him, and gave him wee bits of cake; he was daft with conceit the whole day efter.
Miss Jean wasna very sure at first about lettin' Master Barney into the drawing-room when the folks were there; but his language has been that genteel lately, and he was lookin' that meek, that she decided to let him get his tea with the rest, and hand round the cake; he's fond of handin' the cake, and real dentily he does it. Miss Jean has given him a wee linen tunic, with a green sash round his middle, and green stockin's, and he looks exackly like a nimf. He nearly always minds to say "Dear me," when he's annoyed, and it's funny the way he says it; and he puts his wee finger to his lips the way Miss Jean does to remind him no' to use language; but one word is as good as another to him, the genty wee innocent! Efter the party was over and the company away, Miss Jean come ben to tell me that she's suspeckin' that Master Barney is a reglar matchmaker, and him no' four year old yet! Figure that! It seems that when Sir Simon Bradstreet and Miss Somerville were talkin' to one another, sittin' in the big windy-seat, up comes Master Barney and stands gazin' at the lady, fu' of admiration-he likes big folk. When he got his chance he laid his bit handie on Miss Somerville's knee, to draw attraction, like, so she says, "Well, Barney, what is it?" "Miss Somerville," says he, lookin' up in her face very solemn, "are you a mother?" "No," she says, laughin' in a kind-of nervous way. Miss Jean couldna help hearin' every word, sittin' makin' out the tea with her back to the three of them. Master Barney thought a meenit, and then he says, "But you could be a mother, couldn't you? Our cat-" Goodness knows what he was goin' to tell about the cat, but Miss Somerville stopped him by lifting him up on her lap and sayin', "Will you give me a kiss?" Now there's nothin' that bairn hates like kissin', and he wriggled off her knee like lightning, and says he to Sir Simon, stiff-like, "Will you kiss her for me, please?" and away he marched black-affronted. In his hurry he caught his foot in a rug, and very near fell on his nose. "Dear me!" was all he said, but unfortnitly a lady heard him, and she remarked to her neighbour that it was quaint the way the child said "dear me." "I can say 'damme' just as quaint," says he, and the poor lady fair gasped; but we're hoping she'll no' let it go any further.