Rough Scan
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WE'VE had what they ca' a "Raid" in Edinbury, and a perfeck bedevilment it turned out to be. It was on a Sabbath night too; and the Kayser lets on to be a releegious man! Trust him! We were a' away to our beds, and here at a quarter to twelve precise did there no' commence such a bangin', and a firin', and lightnin' coming down from the skies, and guns shootin'-you never heard the like. We got the bairns up (the three wee Lindesays from London were stayin' with us to avoid raids), and away we went down to the kitchen. Luckily the fire was in, and Tatty and the three wee kitlings snorin' and purrin' in front of it. Miss Celandine christened them Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on the spot. The London nurse was mad at us for no' havin' a raid-cellar furnished ready. She said she was out of the frying-pan into the fire; and in Cavendish Square they had a commodious furnished cellar, and rugs, and sofies, and a lamp, and an oil-Stove, and whisky and soda. But I never lifted her. I just said, dry-like, that we had a coal-cellar in the area, and a wine-cellar ben the house; but, when she saw me puttin' on the kettle to make a cup of tea for the young leddies, etc., she decided to stop where she was. It was 1ust beginnin' to boil when the door opened, and in came Prothisa with her hair hangin' down her back and her eyes fair blind wi' sleep. Miss Jean had tried to waken her, but she was that sound that she thought it was better to let her sleep through it, if she could.
"Has this any connection with the war?" says she, glowrin' round the kitchen fair donner'd.
"Nane whatever," says I, kind-o' sarcastic, "just a sma' evenin' pairty."
With that there came such a bang and a crash that it dumbfoundered every one of us. The London leddy cried, "Ow!" wi' a screigh like a motor-caur; wee Miss Cielle stood in the middle of the floor, and stamped her foot like a fury, and says she, "Surely we'll do something now!" Then Kirsty she flew to the windy, and shook her neive at the sky, and bawled, "If I come ti ye I'll sort ye!" the very way I've seen Canongate mithers crvin' to their weans playin' in the gutter eight stories below, and about as likely to be attended to. Miss Jean sat in my chair, gev white in the face, with Samson on her lap. Poor beastie ; every time the bomms went off he whinged maist peetiful, and it was days afore his hair would lie down right. I was standin' petrifeed, with the big teapot in my hand when I hears a wee soft voice low down (we were a' in the dark except the fire and one caunle) and a wee soft hand touched my elby, and Master Johneen says, "Would you like to take my arm, Mrs Pow?" That bairn aye minds his mainners; but when I took his airm, I found he was just ditherin' wi' cold and fright; so I hurried to pour out the tea; and I gave them a' hot drinks, and let them help themselves to sugar, and eat far ower muckle rich cake-and it the middle of the night!
It was two o'clock the next mornin' or ever we got away to our beds. The bairns was delighted; they had never been up as late in their lives. When Miss Cielle bade her Auntie Jean good-night she said, "It's been nicer than the Pantomime, because it's been longer!" And a' the road upstairs she was singin', "Two o'clock and I'm not in bed!"
The first thing we saw the next mornin' was the doctor's wee blue caur fleein' round the corner, and the doctor's golden heid shinin' inside like the risin' sun. She came to see how Miss Jean had stood the assault of the enemy. She had never been in her bed hersel', but she had been a good whilie in a cellar wi' her wee nevvy, Peter, her house bein' seetiated in the centre of the disturbance. Poor lambie, he quite enjoyed the variety, and when there came a sort o' lull in the storm, he lookit up at his auntie disappinted-like, and says he, "When will there be another bang?" And him just new three year auld!
The English nurse let on to be dissatisfeed with the raid. She said it was poor compared with the London performances - no' near sae loud nor sae long. But she didna make any objections when she heard she was to go to Kilmorag with the faimly - no' her - and she's a grand hand at makin' objections in the ordinar way.
In the efternoon Miss Jean advised me to go away down to Raeburn Place for a wee bit change of air, and to see how Mrs M'Curd was keepin' efter such an awfu' night. She was lookin' fine. The folk in the low flat invited a' the folk above (eight faimlies) to come aside them for safety. The place was raither crowded; but they had a deal of agreeable conversation, and said many a thing they wouldna have thought of in ordinar circumstances; I felt that way mysel'. We had our teas, and then Mrs M'Curd offered to see me on my road home. We hadna gone far when I notticed that her skirt was trailin' on the ground. "What's wrong wi' ye, Eliza?" I says, says I. "Your gown's no' right on, surely!" "Mebbe I've no' fastened a' the hooks," says she, and she fum'led round her waist for a whilie. But when we set off again, it was still trailin' ahint her like a train. Would you believe that the poor body had lost a' her hips in a single night! What with the fright, and the strain of keepin' up a polite conversation in the mirk, and one thing and another, she had grown perfeckly thin, and a' her skirts had to be taken up two and a half inches! Did you ever? And her had struggled for years to keep off sugar, soup, cheese, and tatties with no visible effeck! When I told Miss Jean, she said, "Yet grew she light, In a single night." That's poetry.
Master Johneen added a wee bittie to his prayers efter the raid: he took a keek at Miss Jean through his fingers, and then he said, casually-like, "And You needn't bother about the Germans: Amen"
We thought when we got to Kilmorag that all would be peace and goodwill. Naething o' the sort! Here was a regiment of eleven full-grown sojers at the pier-heid! In the daytime they were quiet enough, taken up wi' fishin', but when the gloamin' fell they were fair ferocious.
One Sunday night Miss Jean wanted a letter put in the post, and me and Miss Celandine went along the road with it. Kirsty warned us that we would be challenged, and told us what to say; but we forgot all about war, walkin' under the twinklin' stars, by the side of the lapperin' loch. Suddently there was a fearsome rattle of fireairms, and a sojer cried, "Who goes there?" and turned a light upon us, fit to blind us. I was struck dumb wi' surprise, but luckily Miss Celandine minded the answer, and "Friends," says she. "Your names!" cries the airmy gent, fiercer nor ever. Miss Celandine could scarcely speak for laughin', and I thought she would have us both shot dead afore she answered, "Marget Pow and Celandine Murray." "All's well: pass on," says he, and then I minded who he was-the baker's laddie from Kildun! But war's an awfu' leveller: "Be not a baker if thy head be of butter."