~XXIII~ THE wedding-presents are arrivin' for Miss Celandine wholesale and retail, and Prothisa is that taken up helpin' her to admire them that she disna nottice fuff under the beds, and thrums on the drawin'-room carpet, the way I would like. And the motes and the flichters are a' over the house owin' to the peat we're usin' to save the coals. The constant strife wi' dirt that a mysterious Providence has ordained as the principal occupation of no' a few of the dwellers on this earth, parteeclarly the womenfolk, is a dispensation that's never been satisfactorily explained. It's where it a' comes from that baffles me! And when you think on the airmy of house-maids, kitchen-maids, scavengers, bootses, laundry-maids, windy-cleaners, etcintera, that's fechtin' with dirt day efter day, and year efter year, ye may well wonder what the world would be like wantin' them. I doubt dirt is just of the same natur as original sin or innate cussedness; but mebbe the "higher criteckism," as they ca' it, can explain the maitter better nor me. No' that I hold with they new-fangled notions. I'm told that they're castin' doubts on Job bein' a real man! If it's true, they dinna ken muckle about human natur. There's many a gentleman like Job that'll bear the extermination of their freens and relations with fortitude, but when it comes to gettin' boils theirsels they turn the whole house upside down, so they do. Yon's a real man. I've notticed on my way through life what a deal of our time is taken up with waitin' - waitin' on ither folk mair parteeclarly-sweeps, and painters, and plumbers, especially the latters when they're needin' something they havena brought with them, and traivel away back to the shop to get it. There's no' such a thing as "Orders Punctual Executed" now though many's the time I've read it above the sweep's door in Princes Street: he'll can take that nottice down now, I would jealouse. And if the painters promise faithfu' to start work on Monday first, you may be thankfu' if you get them on Friday fortnight; but a'things changed since that weary war. So Miss Jean took me to a grand concert to cheer me up, like. I'm no' very sure whether it had the desired effeck; it was an awfu' noise. All the leddies and gentlemen played at once, maistly on fiddles; and sometimes it was fearfu' loud, and sometimes it was that low that you could scarcely hear it. It was when it went low suddently that I heard a voice sayin' quite clear, "Where does Lady Brierly get her hats!" I kent fine, for I saw the hat no' far away, and the leddy too, but I never let on for fear of disturbin' the concert: but it's no' a bonny hat - I will say that. When we got home it was very near six o'clock, and here Miss Celandine came flyin' to meet us to tell us she had got anither present- "the best of them all," says she. She wouldna tell us who it was from for ever so long; but at last she let out that it was a pure white kitling, and then Miss Jean and me both guessed at once "from Tatty!" Mind you it's the first ever we've had without a single black hair, so Miss Celandine says of course it's for a wedding-present for her; and it's to have a rose-pink ribbon round its neck at the marriage, and it's to be ca'ed "Humphrey," efter Mr Coleridge-Burton. But, mind you, she generally ca's him "Haddy!" And would you believe that one day when I was in the drawing-room helpin' to unpack a new-come present, here did I no' hear Miss Celandine introducin' her feeongsay to a grand lady by the name of "Mr Findhorn Haddock!" And the leddy held his hand high up, and says she, quite calm, "Delighted! Have we met before? Your name seems quite familiar to me." I was thankfu' to get out of the room, but no' afore I heard a' the company laughin'. I ken fine Miss Celandine will never let down on me that I thought her sweetheart's name was something like Finnan-Haddock.