Rough Scan
~VII~
 
MISS CELANDINE says I better tell about all the grand places I've seen to fill up the book, like; and, when she heard that I had never been in Holyrood Palace in my life, she said it was scandulous, and she would take me hersel', and look up the catalogue and show me Riccio's blood. Poor young gentleman? Little did he think that he would attrack mair people to view the Royal Palace than mebbe anything else! But "murder will out," as the saying is, and the marks of the bloody deed has lasted well.
But I've been inside a palace afore, mind you. Me and the young leddies bode in the Palatso Sterbeeny in Rome for a whilie; it was up a common-stair-a fearfu' downcome for a palace. Holyrood is a self-contained house, stony-lookin' baith outside and in; and draughty, I would jalouse.
The first objecks of interest we notticed outside was a carving of a king on one side, and a serious-lookin' fowl with a crown round its neck on the other; and the first room we went into was the pictur-gallery. It's a big place, with the portraits of one hundred Scottish kings on the walls. They were all pented by the same gentleman-a Mr de Witte-and he just got two years to finish the job, piece-work, like. Mebbe that was why he made them a' much the same in the featurs-blackaviced, lang-nebbit chiels they were, every one of them. There was one with a extry thick black wig, and two wee laddies were standin' starin' up at it when Miss Celandine and me went forrit. "Sic a heid o' hair!" says the one to the other, and away they trotted hand in hand, puir wee lambs. Efter a while Miss Celandine read out of the catalogue, "The visitor probably will give but fleeting attention to this collection," and she said she wished they had mentioned it sooner, as she was only looking at the pictures out of politeness, as they seemed to expect it. But she got two fine names for Tatty's next kitlings, i.e. Amberkeletus and Dornadilla; I doubt I'll never be able to mind them. You would think Dornadilla would be a female; but no' a bit; she was just a gentleman like a' the rest. We stopped a wee to look at a likeness of Queen Margaret. She's no' a bonny woman-her hair wasna nice done, and her body was yerked awfu' tight; but I understand she was English, poor thing.
The next place we inspected was the Historical Departments. Lord Darnley's bedroom had the broadest bed that ever I saw; I doubt it'll no' be turned every day. The curtains were made of velvet, trimmed with fringe like withered seaweed-a thing I never could admire someway. The grates were outsize, plain black-leaded, but I was gled to obsairve that they were a' fitted up with coal-saving apparatusses coals are an awfy price the now. The guide-book said, "In the fireplace may be noted some good Dutch tiles"; but we couldna note them without we had brought a telescope with us on account of a string there was to keep back the crowd. We noted a pictur of Lord Darnley and his wee brother, though. They were baith dressed in pure blacks from head to foot, and, if the pictur did him justice, Lord Darnley must have been about nine feet high.
It was in Queen Mary's Audience Chamber that Miss Celandine went wrong in the catalogue, and made me feel fair donner'd. When I asked her who the gentleman depicted in portrait No. 1 was, she threped down my throat that it was "Jane, Countess of Caithness." "Hoots!" says I, "it's a man with a beard." "I can't help that; No. 1 is 'Jane, Countess of Caithness,'" was all she would say. No. 8 was a collection of queer-lookin' tickets, male and female, playin' theirsels on a green, near a water. "What's No. 3," says I, "if you please?" And Miss Celandine finds the place and reads out, "Lord Sempill; the Honorable Marion Sempill; the Honorable Jane Sempill; the Honorable Rebecca Sempill." "Losh keep me!" says I. "Such a respeckable faimly!" Miss Celandine took a gliff at the pictur, and says she, "Perhaps they were painted going in to bathe on Joppa sands." But her attention was arrested, and when she tried the catalogue at anither page, here did she no' find that No. 3 was "Nymphs and Satyrs," and no' the Sempills at all, decent bodies! It turned out that she was readin' the catalogue of the Tombs in the Abbey Church, so she was. I'll no' easy trust her with a catalogue again! Anither sma' oil-pentin' that she informed me was "Mary Dunbar, widow of Lord Basil Hamilton," turned out to be a "Bacchic Scene" when we fand the right place: no' the same thing at all. The Bacchics had ower little on to please me. Not but what there was yairds of good dress material lyin' here and there, as Miss Celandine pinted out; but what for did they no' put it about them, the gowks!
We were a long time of cornin' to Riccio's blood, and, if you'll believe me, it's naethin' but a brass plate now! The guide-book said there used to be "a dark stain, explained as being that of the Italian's blood," but nae doot it was a heavy expense gettin' it fresh pented every spring, and the brass plate would be mair economical-like. Penters are fair ertortioners, that they are. But it was disappintin'. And Queen Mary's bathroom was outside, and no hot and cold water laid on - maist rideeclous!
We saw a great muckle cat playin' in the backgairden, just like a common pussy, and I couldna help thinkin' that if Queen Mary had keepit a pet cat instead of a snufflin' wee spaniel, her blood would never have been "lapped by a dog," as the poet says.