Rough Scan
~XXIV~
 
THERE'S some advantages in old age; I'll no' deny that; but mebbe they're no' sae easy seen as the advantages of bein' young. When you're young you say "soon," thinkin' on the grand things you're goin' to do. When you're middle-aged you say "some time." But, when you're auld, like me, you say "never." On the ither hand, there's "anxieties of to-day that fade into nothingness to-morrow." That's a true say. I've seen the time when I would have been like to drop if anybody had stoppit me on the street and tellt me that my hair was comin' down: but now I just say "Thank-ye kindly, mem," and stick the preens firmer in, and never take a red face nor onything. That minds me of a young leddy that Lady Lindesay told me about-a great freen o' hers. She was in Paris when the Huns was drawin' awfu' near, so she thought it was time for her to go away home. She had miles to walk to the station, and two kind Belgian women went with her, and helped her to carry her bag, etc. They were that polite that they would insist on walkin' ahint her, which was no' what she wanted at a'. Well, Lady Lindesay went to meet her at the London station, and welcomed her home, and showed her to the tacksie that was waitin' on them. And then says she, surprised-like, "Laura, do you know that there are two white tape strings hanging down below your coat?" "Strings! " says the Paris leddy, and she jerkit them round, and lookit at them, fair stiff wi' horror, "and those two tidy Belgians walked behind me the whole way to the station!" Lady Lindesay assured me that her freen was mair upset by the strings than by the Huns. And when she got safe home and her mother said to her the next day, very near greetin', "Laura. the Germans are advancing straight upon Calais!" "Well, mamma," says she, as cool as you like, "did you expect them to sit down?" That's young folk-they're easy annoyed wi' trifles, but they take disasters very calm, I will say that.
When I was young mysel' I never seemed to think I would be auld some day, if I was spared. I was kind-of surprised when the conductors on the caurs started to hist me up the step, and folk stood up to let me sit, and poked hassocks to me in a strange kirk. But it's when ye begin to loss your faculties, and your head grows through your hair, and you canna mind things the way you used to do, that you feel the awkwardness of eld. Miss Jean comforts me, when I've forgotten anything, wi' a piece of po'try out of a book she's aye readin'. It's ca'ed "The Diary of an Old Soul," and the words is as follies, namely
 
and I can well afford
All to forget, so thou remember, Lord.
 
It's very nice and consolin', nae doubt, but when it's a cauliflower for the denner, or tea-bread for the efternoon, I would prefer to ha' minded it mysel', so I would.
The Old Age Pensions has reconsiled no' a few to the rapid flight of time. Some poor bodies wearies for the day when they'll be "threescore years and ten." But it's safest to "Be aye the thing you would be ca'ed," as the proverb says, and the woman that shifted her age five year back when she was wed, rued the day when she was seekin' her pension.
We're gettin' on fine with the preparations for Miss Celandine's marriage; she's to be all in pure whites, and the same lace veil that Lady Lindesay had on, ower her heid. The ribbon for the kitling's neck is in the house-rose-pink-and Tatty's is forty-second tartan, no less! But she doesna like bein' dressed up, decent cratur, and I'm hopin' she'll no' have it all licked and chewed afore ever the company arrives.
I'm gettin' a new gown for the occasion from Miss Celandine; it's to be black silk-the kind they ca' "mervello "-and it's to be made full and longish, "durnay cree," as the French folk say, meanin' real stylish. The bonnet's to be black lace, but the bow's no settled yet. There's many a one would say it would set me better to be thinkin' on my latter end; but Miss Jean pinted out to me last Sabbath that it was just efter St Paul said, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand," that he minded Timothy to bring the cloke that he left at Troas with him when he came (it would likely be his waterproof); and he didna hesitate to tell on Alexander the coppersmith either. Mr M'Duigald's discourse that day was on the subjeck of clothin'- "Be clothed with humility" was the text, and I couldna help thinkin' it would take a deal of it to make up to some fashionable leddies for the garments they dinna put on nowadays. But I was thinkin' on my own weddin' costume too; I'll no' deny that: and mebbe it would have been sootabler if I had been settlin' what I would put on when I start on my last and lanesomest journey. There's folk that's been feared all their lives for the day they never saw. And there's ither folk that think that, when they die, they'll go bouncin' straight into heaven, and they'll find their freens and relations sittin' in the front row waitin' on them. I'm no' sae sure: there's degrees: but mebbe "If we canna preach in the kirk we can sing mass in the quire," as the auld Scotch proverb says. With which solemn words I will now conclude.
 
P.S. - The bow's to be lilac, with a silver edge - very genteel.