Rough Scan
~VIII~
 
MISS CELANDINE says I'm no' to forget to tell about thon war. No' very likely; it was maist annoyin'. I'll mind that Sunday as long as I live. It was a dark day, just pourin' wi' rain, and the young leddies came home from the forenoon church in a tacksie, fu' of the news. Appearin'ly the Kayser had cast out wi' mair nor one of his neebours, and it seemed likely that there would be a terrible stramash. How the newspaper laddies got the news naebody kens, but anyway they were cryin' "Spesh!" the whole Sabbath day till nine at night, a perfeck inbreak on the Ten Commandments; little wonder there was a judgment. The servant lassies (and our Merran in the thick of them) were fleein' out every half-hour to get the latest news, and hearin' that things was gettin' worse and worse for their pains. About eight o'clock at night Miss Jean came daunderin' ben to see how I was bearin' up. I was takin' a read of my Bible to settle my mind like, and I pinted out to her that she would find the whole twenty-six letters of the alphabet, includin' x and s, in the seventh chapter of Ezra, the twenty-first verse. She took a whilie to find the place, but when she got it, she was pleased to see that it was quite correck-they're all there, mixed.
By Monday night His Majesty, King George, answered back, and proclaimed war on the Emperor of Germany-and him his first cousin! But there is folk that can agree better with onybody than their sin relations, so there is.
Co-evil with the war there was a fearfu' outbreak of knittin' of every known description - body-belts, kneekeps for Highlanders, cravats, helmets, no less (I aye thought helmets was metallick-mair like dish-covers), and socks by the thousand. And simulatinously there appeared in the Scotsman dizens of letters tellin' folk how to make them. And, if you'll believe me, there was a gentleman had the assurance to priut directions for makin' a flannen body-belt. And how do you think it was to be fastened? "Gather together the loose material, and secure it with a safety-pin!" Did ever you hear such a feckless way of doin'?
The next thing to follow in the footsteps of the war was beads. Never in my born days did I see such an outbreak of beads! I aye thought they were mair parteeclarly conneckit with heathen lands, bein' worn for full dress by the inhabitants thereof. But the Edinbury folk was as keen on them as if they had been born black. The shop-windies was full of them-bead-chains, bead-bags, bead-purses; wee beads on hats, and big ones round folks' necks - I was fair sick of them afore the war was ended. I'm no' sure whether beady eyes are on the increase or no'; they used to be looked down upon in my young days; but mebbe the war's made them quite the thing.
Efter that the short skirts came forrit, and never in my life did I see the likes of thon! Up and up they rose like the risin' tide, leavin' half the responsibeelity to stockins and shoon. Nae wonder the formers rose to 25s. per pair, and the "foot-wear" (as they ca' boots in the shop-windies the now) was jist as dear. There was one day that I saw Mr Brown, at No. 17, and his lassie that's at the school comin' along the Terrace, and lo! when they came near, the lassie turned out to be Mrs Brown, a grey-haired woman! They say you canna put old heads on young shoulders, but you can put them on short petticoats, so you can. But I dinna like yon-it's no' needed.
One good effeck of the war was that it brought home Mrs Smith from Jerusalem for a whilie. She came to visit the young leddies for a two-three days, and many a grand story had she to tell. The Turks were sweir to let her away-she's a fine cheery cratur, and usefu'-and naething her freens could say would make them believe that she was a Teacher, or a Religious Order, although, mind you, she's a meenister's widdy, and bound to be mair or less releegious. At long last, when a' hope seemed past, the Turkish authorities decided that mebbe she would come under the headin' of "A Woman," and away she sailed from Jaffa with nae other recommendation! It was lucky for her that they were right for once.
The first thing she asked for was a Finnan haddy and a bap (it was afore the baps became extinck), and efter that she felt she could enjoy a cracknel biscuit and a gless of Crabbe's green ginger cordial. Puir thing, she had been cut off from thae luckshuries for many a year, and oranges by the dizen will no' make up for the want of them-they're different someway.