Rough Scan
~XII~
 
Now that fightin's sae highly recommended, Miss Celandine's determined that she'll be mairried on a sojer. It was first a Cardinal she was wantin' (that was when we were in Rome); then she lifted her love to a Bassaleery, but she didna get him, I'm thankfu' to say. Since then she's just been lookin' round, like. But now she's announced that she's set to get a man afore she's a quarter-of-a-century old, and it's a sojer she's after-a private-naething else will content her. As a kind of first step she's told all the left-tenants, captains, kurnels, etc., that comes to the house that naething above a sargent need apply. Secondly, she goes to a meetin' conneckit with the church, and pours out tea, and sings hymns out of the same book as a Highlander - Black Watch. Nae doubt it'll be "Onward Christian Soldiers"; but he doesna seem to be very oncomin', for he's never been in the house yet, although we've had a good few douty swanes here at their teas.
Merran's away to make munitions. I dinna ken rightly what they are, but if they're as tough as her scones they'll do; and her currant-dumplin's were mair like bullets nor anything else. But I doubt it's just a first step to matrimony. We've got a lassie ca'ed Prothisa Black in her place; she's from Fife. But she'll have to be learnt everything, so we've engaged Mrs Shankie to come twice a week. She's a charwoman really, but she never admits it; she aye says she's goin' out "to oblige a lady." Mebbe that's what makes her feel no' sae obligated to exert hersel'. But she's a cheery body-just one eye and two teeth-and, naitrally, her man's a sojer. In private life he's a mason, though, when he's workin' - but that's no' very often. When I heard that he had been away to the war for a week, I says to Mrs Shankie, "You'll be missin' your man," says I. "Ugha," says she, grudgy-like, and then she gied a hearty laugh, and she says, "But och, ye soon get accustomed to it!" I minded efter I spoke, that onybody that had been habitted with Mr Shankie's presence would get easy enough reconsiled to his absence, and so I asked her if he had gone to the Front yet. "No' him," says she scornfully; "he's just aye manewverin' about the country, pittin' aff time."
The next day Mrs Shankie came, I thought she looked awfu' dowy, and she wasna long of lettin' out why. "He's back! "says she. "Mercy on us!" says I, "what for is he back already?" So she tellt me that it was his feet that had brought him back, for they were that way blistered that he couldna walk. And what do you think was the cause o' the disaster? The poor felly had on a pair of socks a kind leddy had knitted for him, and here had she no' put a piece of po'try that she made up hersel' in the inside of one of them! Mr Shankie never notticed it till he was on the march, and it rumpled up inta a wee hard ba', and he walked on till he was a perfeck lameter. I thought it would mebbe be a kind of prayer, and I wondered when Mrs Shankie said it was advisin' him no' to run away from the German hens. "They'll be wild, the hens thonder, will they no'?" says she. I tried to mind seein' hens goin' about in Germany, but, as far as I could recolleck, they were a' cooked when they got my length. So she recited the po'try, which was as follows;
 
==God bless the folks,
==That wears these socks,
==And may they never run
==Before a German hen.
 
"Hoots, wumman!" says I, "it'll be 'Hun' : hens are that nervous it's no' very likely that they would attack a big man like Maister Shankie, and him armed from head to foot!"
She's ill to convince-dour-like-and she wanted to thriep down my throat that Hun was the German for a hen; and I couldna say but what it might be, for there's naething too queer for foreigners to ca' the plainest things, but it'll be a warnin' to Kirsty and Prothisa no' to be puttin' papers of no sort in the socks they're kniittn' for sojers; poor fellies! they've enough to put up wi' withoot that.