Rough Scan
~XV~
 
WE'VE had a grand supper-pairty for Tommies, accompanied with tea and coffee. There was twenty-three sojers includin' a Naval gentleman that got hissel' invited on account of bein' a kind of cousin o' the young leddies. Miss Celandine introjuiced me to the Black Watch corporal she's been pourin' out tea for at the kirk. He's a tall felly, no' bad lookin', but what for do they make their kilts sae scrimpy? The front width would need a full quarter o' a yaird mair in it to be respectable, so it would. But there's plenty of material in the pleats, and the way they keep them flat is wunnerful. I notticed that Miss Celandine didna say the corporal's name; but the queer thing was that I kent his face, although I never saw him afore! And there was a kind-o' glimmer of his name in my heid, every time I looked at him, although I couldna mind it right-it was what they ca' a "high-fennated" name like Finnan-Haddock or Graham-Murray - but no' just exackly either the one or the other.
Efter the supper was past we had music baith and instrumential. The corporal gave us a song to a real bonny tune. Miss Celandine says first verse was:
 
==Call me while the lark is sleeping,
===Ere Flora fills her dewy cup;
==The festive beetle homeward creeping
===Before the early worm is up.
 
He'll be a good riser, likely. But Miss Celandine's the very opposeed. She's a grand sleeper; it's an awfu' work to get her up.
The Naval gentleman gave us the true history of the entrance of Liberia into the war - no' Siberia, that's a different place a'thegither. The way of it was as follows, namely: When His Majesty's ships went away to Africky (what to do they ken best theirsels), in course of time they came to the place ca ed Liberia. And the Admiral, bein' a real sociable gentleman, invited the President and a twa-three mair to come to their dinners on board his ship. So they came, sure enough; and efter the dinner, the ship's band played to them. They were grand Players, and the President liked it fine. The next day came a message to the Admiral to say would he allow the band to come ashore and play to the people of Liberia on dry land. So away they went in a sma' boat, airmed with brass instruments, one each, and a man wi' a drum forbye. You'll mebbe have heard that "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast"? Well, if you'll believe me. the band played that soothingly to the Liberian Nation that they declared war on Germany there and then! Little did the Kaiser think that such an innocent-like thing as a tune or two would cook his goose with the Republic of Liberia! But you never can tell.
Efter that we had a fine cheery song with a chorus. I dinna mind the name o't, or the tune either, for I'm gey like the man you've heard tell of that didna ken "God save the weasel" from "Pop goes the King": but the gentleman sang it beautiful. Then we got a grand surprise. The corporal coaxed a wee drummer-laddie to give us a recitation (it seems he's celebrate for it), and here did he no' stand up and repeat Miss Celandine's Poem from beginnin' to end! I'll put it in here, for she'll be pleased to see it in print, and it's no' likely she'll get an Editor to take it. She's tried mair nor once, and they aye send it back with compliments:
 
I looked far back into other years, and lo! my wistful gaze
Descried, as in a dream, a butcher's shop of pre-wax days.
 
It was a stately edifice with windows left and right,
A plate-glass door stood open, and within, oh, what a sight!
Ox after ox, and sheep on sheep, were hanging in a row,
While outlets, and a nice lamb's head, lay smiling down below.
Oh! for the sirloins that were there! and oh! the juicy chop!
It was a dream-but what a dream-a pre-war butcher's shop.
A lady entered on the scene-a fair and well-fed dame;
The civil butcher, swift to serve, gave welcome to the same:
And with her came a tall brown dog that snifled about the floor,
And found some bits of suet there, and fondly looked for more.
"A middle cut," the lady said, "well-hung; about ten pounds."
Such was the word she spake, and sweet to memory it sounds.
 
The scene was changed.- It was a shop with one snmll lonely roast,
A pot of ferns, some sausages, and twelve eggs at the most:
And puddings black and white were there, and potted head so cold,
A small (but most expensive) hen, and a bunny uncontrolled.
With slow, reluctant step there came a lady through the door;
She seemed, somehow, to feel as if her shopping were a bore.
The butcher was preoccupied; the lady had to wait;
And when, at last, her turn arrived, she truly was irate.
"Well, Mr Smith," she boldly cried, "were I but once more free
From registration's hated bonds, I'd leave thy shop and thee!
These coupons would I scatter wide to every breeze that blows-"
She paused for breath; and what she got for dinner, goodness knows.
 
The scene was changed.- Not very much; still whitewashed were the walls,
And still the floor was saw-dusty, where soft the footstep falls;
The potted head was going strong, the ferns were growing green,
The eggs were just like pre.war eggs, the beef was red and lean.
And yet once more that lady came (the same that came before),
And, at her heels, the same brown dog that scavengered the floor.
I knew that queenly form again, though ravaged of its fat;
I knew the face; I knew the hair; I also knew the hat;
I knew the voice - the voice with which she argued with her foe-
I knew a lot-but I admit the end I did not know.
 
The scene was changed. (But stay! methinks I mentioned that before,
It almost seems I may have heard those words in days of yore.)
With trembling voice the lady spake, "How much have I to get ?"
The clerkees, with a haughty toss, said, "One and twopence yet."
"Then I might have a bone for soup" (the lady thought aloud);
"Or else a pound of tripe." Alas! she was no longer proud.
The butcher found a marrow-bone, to lay before the dame:
She gazed on it with loving eyes; her mastiff did the same-
Then made one dash, secured the prize, and bolted by the door-
The bone was gone! Gone to return, ah! never, never more!
 
Snatch'd by a dog! Go think of it in silence and alone;
Then weigh against a pound of tripe the glories of a bone!