Rough Scan
I AM about, in this chapter, to relate an incident which was youneek in my career, I'm thankfu' to say. It consisted of me goin' to the Opery, and Miss Celandine was the cause of it. She wanted to ice an act they ca' Fowst, and Miss Jean no' bein' very well, she set upon me to go with her. She said it would be a warnin' to me no' to encourage the devil, and her too. So we went, mair for her sake than mine's.
The first thing we saw was the curtain-the very same as it was when we went to see Hamlet-but mebbe a wee thing dirtier. Then a good few gentlemen in private clothes, carrying fiddles, drums, flutes, sackbuts, salteries, etc., came in below and played a tune till it was time to begin. It was a gey grumblie tune; I didna think much of it. When the curtain went up, here we sees an auld gentleman sittin' his lee-lane at a table, with a wheen queer-lookin' odds and ends on it. He minded me of the gentleman with the skull that we saw many's the time in Italy, in the pictur-galleries-a connection of the faimly, mebbe. He started to sing a song, withoot waitin, to be asked. "Many years have past me," says he; but onybody could see that. He seemed annoyed at it, but an auld man like him might have had mair sense nor to let a'body ken what he was thinkin'.
When he had feenished, in flew a queer-lookin' ticket, dressed all in pure reds from head to foot. At first I thought he was meant for a lobster, but Miss Celandine said he was the devil; I've seen a lobster with an agreeabler expression, I will say that; but what I dinna like about fish is that you canna look them straight in the face-they're all profile, so to say.
I omitted to mention that there was a great big hole in the wall of the auld gentleman's room very like the one the mice made at the war, and I was thinkin' it was a peety if he had taken the house on a repairin' lease, when in flew a kind of a tablow. It represented a young leddy workin' a sewin'-machine with her foot. The auld gentleman was fair delighted with it, poor body, and away he went to tell the ither folk to come and see it. The first to arrive was a stout young gentleman dressed all in lilac; it set him no' bad. Miss Celandine said it was the auld gentleman made young; a perfeck haver; he was a full head shorter nor him, and twice as fat. But how could they expeck folk to understan' the story when they never took time to speak plain? No maitter what sort of a stramash was goin' on they aye stood up and sang a song aboot it; just a provoke. Many a time I've heard of sing-songs, but yon cowed a'.
Efter that we saw many a queer sight. Lassies wi' skirts shorter nor the Wacksies (if you'll believe me), and sojers dressed up like dandillies, and idle fellies playin' at the cairds in the very street. And every one of them could sing, mind you ; I never heard as muckle street-singin' in my life. There was one felly gave us a song about a lass o' he's, and the bawl he gave at "I love her" was enough to deave a body; and the whole town listening! Miss Celandine said he had likely been in the Navy as a megafone. If he was, I'll warrant he made thon auld scoundrel Fonnturpy hear on the deefest side o' his heid. I was glad when he went away home.
Efter that we saw a gairdcn, with a bonny wee house on one side, and a wall at the back, and a door inthe wall, and a full moon in the sky. The stout young gentleman in lilac come through the door, the meenit he saw the flower-bed, he was that uplifted that be burst out singin'.
"Bounteous nature!" says he, and he lookit at srubs as if he had never seen the like in his life. Mercy on us! Twa awfu'-like palms, as shankie as mine's, and a sun-flower stuck on one of them, by way of flourish! A young leddy dressed in light blue, with long yelly pleats hangin' down her back, come out of the house to see what he was goin' on about. She was a grand singer, and started the meenit the gentleman stopped to take breath. She was fine at doin' a shake - she minded me of a friend o' mines called Isabella M'Rorie that used to quiver equal to any opery-singer. Her auld faither was awfu' proud o' it. He used to cry, "Quiver, Isabella, quiver!" if she was singin' plain, so he did.
Margareet-that was the young leddy-went in-bye to do her hair. But appearin'ly she couldna see, owin' to the defence of the realm, so out she come to try if the moon was ony better, and she never notticed that the devil and the other young gentleman were Stravaigin' about the gairden. "There's a time to gley, and a time to look straught." Miss Celandine says this was the time I fell asleep. I'm no' sure: I mind of seein' gentlemen with drawn swords, and I shut my eyes, for I never could bear the sight of cold steel; and mebbe I dovered for a wee, for the next time I took nottice I saw there was something far wrong. A gentleman was lyin' on the ground, singin' for all he was worth, and the young leddy in blue was very near on the top of him. There was a crowd of folk standin' round, askin' what was the maitter, and no' a pollisman to be got, as usual! How they settled it, I never made out, but anyway, when the curtain was drawn up for the last time, "the scene was changed," as the poetry says. Appearin'ly the pollis had come forrit efter a', for the young leddv had been clapped into a prison, in a clean white nightgown nicely done-up: it would be afore stairch rose to a perfeckly prohibutive price. Her painful seetiation didna hinder her from singin' though-loud and long-and in came the devil and the stout young gentleman to see what was goin' on. Then they all three sang turn about, and a' thegither, and naething would stop them till they let the curtain down right in their faces. And thankfu' was I, and it on the back of eleven, and the streets like mirk midnight, and the cab-horse feared to put one foot afore another, puir beastie! An' as for me learnin' to resist the devil at the Opery, no' very likely! Onybody would flee from a felly like yon.