Rough Scan
~XI~
 
EVER since Mr Askwhich put in the Scotsman that folk was respeckfully requested to practise economy, the way that Miss Celandine has carried on has been a fair provoke! Set him up! Tellin' us to practise economy that has never done onything else! I would like fine to see into his kitchen, so I would.
And here's Miss Celandine sayin' that there's a silver linin' to every cloud, and that she's thinkin' I'll no' be near so likely to die of curvature of the stomach now that food's gettin' scarce. Did ever you hear the like? And I'm to put water in the cat's milk when she's no' lookin'. But you'll no' cheat Tatty: she just put the end of her nose into it and sneezed, so she did; and no' anither sup would she take till I put a wee drop cream amongst it. Miss Celandine ca'ed her a "bloated aristocrat," but Tatty never let on she heard her. And then Miss Celandine started to lectur' about the needcessity of restrictin' the output of kittens-she thought we would mebbe require to get kitten-cairds-a perfeck haver. And when I said I would thank her to get up out of my chair, and no' talk nonsense (she aye sits in my chair, with Tatty on her lap, when she comes down to the kitchen), she said she notticed that I never did thank her when I said I would, and that if all the hairs that Tatty shed on folks' gowns was carefully collected, they would make fur-lined coats to the Tommies. She's an awfu' lassie.
I am no' denyin' that meat's a terrible price; and the pennyworth of cream has shrunk to what they ca' an "irrejuicible minimium"; and would you believe that the greengrocer down the water had the face to ask tenpence for a middle-aged cauliflower? Folks will need to caw canny; but I dinna believe in a' thae nourishin' soups that the papers say can be made out of 1 oz. of split peas: "Boil thoroughly in plenty of cold water; strain through a colander, and add pepper and salt to taste"; no' me.
Miss Celandine has been readin' bits out of the magazines about "substitutes," and she gave me the maist awfu' fright the day - my blood fair ran cold. And what do you think it was all about? She saw Tatty (decent cratur) eatin' a plain fly on the windy-sole, and she gave the maist fearsome squeel, and fell into my chair, pointin' speechless at the poor beastie. "Mercy on us, Miss Celandine," says I, "what's the maitter wi' ye?" I says, all in a tremmle. "It is not generally known," says she, as cool as you like, "that the common domestic fly, plain boiled, with a little white sauce, is a perfect substitute for roast beef." I was fair mad. She'll have got it out of some of these daft-like books on the Nourishment of the Nation. And she said that she had notticed a thoughtful-lookin' spider on the stair that would make a very pretty little entrée fried with breadcrumbs, and a wee bit tomato on its tail.
Merran said that she couldna get on with her work, for Miss Celandine's conversation was makin' her feel the very same way as she does on the steamer, when the water's heisie. So away she went laughin', and no' five minutes syne she put her head in at the door to say that, if we was makin' sandwiches, we would mebbe like to know that a sheet of plain pink blotting-paper, gently soaked in cold water for three minutes, and dried in a kitchen towel, would be found a perfeck substitute for ham, and ordinary mustard might be used. Thenk-ye kindly!
But there's one thing I've notticed mysel'. An old skin hearth-rug with the tail hangin' on to it, and a mouth at the ither end, is a perfeck substitute for the fur things the leddies is wearin' round their necks-what they ca' "Chaste " in the shop windies. Many's the time I've wondered if they just lift the mat and put it about them when they're goin' outbye.
Miss Celandine's been out for a pound of apples for the curry, and she was wantin' to explain how I could do fine without them; but I just told her, there and then, that I was for no more of her savings and substitutes. So she sat very quiet for a whilie, and then she says, solemn-like, "Well, there's one thing for which I cannot find a substitute-no; not even an imperfect one."
"That's peculiar," says I dry-like; "and what might that be?"
"It's just dear old Marget Pow," says she; and with that she bounced out of the chair, and upset the cat, and flung her arms about my neck, and fair choked me with kisses.
Miss Celandine is an awfu' lassie, but she has a kind of a way with her, too.