Domesticities/Mrs. McCrae Attends a Jumble Sale

Domesticities by John Joy Bell
Mrs. McCrae Attends a Jumble Sale

from Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Jan 1904, pp. 337–340.


“I NEVER gaed to a jungle sale afore,” remarked Mrs. M'Crae as she and her friend, both dressed in their best, stepped out of the close into the street, which was bright with the afternoon sunshine.

“Weel, it's no' the first time I've been at a jumble sale,” returned Mrs. Murray smiling. “No' that I'm whit ye might ca' a frequenter o' jumble sales,” she added. “But whiles ye get a bargain, an'—”

“Ye're shair there's no' gaun to be ony rattles, Mistress Murray?” Mrs. M'Crae interrupted anxiously.

“Na, na. I tell't ve afore there wud be nae raffles, so ye needna be feart, Mistress M'Crae. Yer man cudna ha'e ony objections at ye gaun to the jumble sale. Ye see, a jumble sale is a vera different thing to a bazaur. Near a' the things at a bazaur is new: but a' the things at a jumble sale is auld. 'Deed, ay! Some o' them's gey auld! But then ithers is no' that auld. Gentry folk is no' needin' to weer holes in their claes, an' I've seen rale nice-like things gaun dirt chape. I mind the last sale I wis at—na, I'm wrang; it wis the yin afore. Weel, there wis a young leddy's hat—a beautiful hat—an' it wis nae stranger to me, fur the young leddy—she's Miss Smith, Doctor Smith's dochter—sits in oor kirk no' faur whaur we sit. Aw, it wis a beautiful hat, a' trimmed wi' roses, rid yins an' yella yins an' bew—na! there wisna ony bew yins. An' whit d'ye think it wis priced at the jumble sale? Whit d'ye think, Mistress M'Crae?”

"A jumble sale is a verra different thing to a bazaur."

“I'm shair I cudna guess, Mistress Murray.”

Mistress Murray drew a long breath. “May I dee this vera meenit,” she said solemnly and slowly, “if the beautiful hat wisna priced tippence! TIPPENCE!”

“Weel, I never!”

“That was the price! An' I wudna wunner if it cost Miss Smith near ten shullin's when it wis new. An' there it wis priced tippence!”

“Did ye buy it?' inquired Mrs. M'Crae.

”Na. It wis nae use to me. But I'm jist tellin' ye the hale story to let ye see hoo things whiles gangs dirt chape at jumble sales. An', mind ye, I've heard o' folk buyin' auld things fur hauf naethin' an' sellin' them efter fur five pound—ay, an' ten pound!”

“It bates a'! Whit kin' o' things, Mistress Murray?”

“Picturs, an' clocks, an' cheeny, an' ither things that's aulder nor they're bonnie. I mind hearin' o' a wife wha bocht a pictur fur a shullin'. The gless wis broke, an' she tuk it to a man fur to get a new gless. An' whenever the man seen the pictur he speirt if she wud sell it. An' she wis jist gaun to say 'half-a-croon,' when he said 'five pound.' An' she got the 'five pound.' Ay! that wis a bargain fur ye, Mistress M'Crae!”

“An'—an' wull they be sellin' picturs at the jungle sale the day?” Mrs. M'Crae asked breathlessly.

“Ay, but ye mauna be lukin' fur a five pound pictur at every jumble sale,” said her friend smiling. “Na, na! Ye see, it's jist a chance in a hunner thoosan'.”

“Mphm!” muttered Mrs. M'Crae disappointed and a little ashamed of her eagerness. “I'm thinkin' there's a guid bit o' rattlin' wi' anither name at yer jungle sales.”

“Hoots-toots! Ye're no' to say that, Mistress M'Crae. As I said afore, it's a' square an' fair.”

“I ha'e ma doots, Mistress Murray, I ha'e ma doots.”

“Aweel, ye'll shin be there, an' yell see it a' fur yersel'. Ye dinna need to buy onythin' unless ye like.”

“Are ye gaun to buy onythin' yersel'?” asked Mrs. M”Crae, regaining her good humor.

“Weel, I wis thinkin' o' buyin' a fender, if I cud get yin aboot fowerpence.”

“A fender fur fowerpence!”

“Jist that! I've seen fenders gaun fur less. Of coorse, they're no' jist bran new, an' whiles they're gey sair bashed an' roostit. But it's wunnerfu' whit ye can dae wi' elbow-greace.”

“Fine I ken that, Mistress Murray, fine I ken that! But a fender fur fowerpence! I never heard the like!”

"Wha wudna let ye sit doon?"

“Aw, that's naethin' to whit ye'll see afore ye're dune! Mind, if yer wantin' to buy onythin', dinna gi'e the leddies a' they ask. If they ask a shullin', say ye'll gi'e saxpence, an' ye'll likely get the thing fur ninepence.”

“But I thocht the money wis fur the kirk,” said Mrs. M'Crae, looking thoughtful.

“Ay; it's fur the kirk. But a bargain's a bargain. But here we are,” said Mrs. Murray.

“Is this the place? You gang furrit, Mistress Murray. My! whit a crood o' folk.”

“Ye sud see it at nicht,” returned her friend. “Some sales has an auction at nicht, and I can tell ye, it's a sicht! But I dinna like the auction business masel'. I aye buy things I dinna want. I yinst got landit wi' a spy-gless that naebody cud see through. I'm shair I dinna ken to this day whit I bocht it fur, an' ma man lauchs at me yet. But we best tak' a luk roon' afore the crood gets bigger. Come awa', Mistress M'Crae. Dinna be feart.”

It was an hour and a half later. The two friends, who had lost each other for a portion of the period, met beside a group of chairs, all of which were more or less worn and damaged.

“Is this whaur ye've been a' this time?” Mrs. Murray inquired solicitously. “I'm shair ye're wearit.”

“I'm that warm. I aye get that warm when I'm in a crood. So I jist said to masel' I wud wait here, an' ha'e a sate. But they wudna let me sit doon unless I bocht the chair.”

“Wha wudna let ye sit doon?” demanded Mrs. Murray, almost fiercely, glowering at some ladies in the neighborhood.

“Aw, I cudna tell ye that noo Never heed, I'm no' as warm as I wis an' I'm rale gled to see ye again.”

“Wis ye feart?”

“Och, I'm no' that easy feart. Did ye buy a fender?”

Mrs. Murray shook her head. “The fenders I seen wisna worth takin' awa'. I never seen sic like fenders! An' they wudna sell yin unner saxpence. Some folk ha'e an' awfu' neck!”

“Weel,” said Mrs. M'Crae, ”I'm vexed ye didna get a fender. Wis there naethin' else ye wis wantin'?”

“Na. Everythin's ower dear the day. I'll maybe come back the morn when the sellin' folk ha'e gotten some o' the concate ta'en oot o' them. I think we'll jist gang noo.”

“I—I wis thinkin',” began Mrs. M'Crae, and paused.


“It wis—it wis a wee chair I seen in the corner thonder—a wee chair, ye ken—” and she paused again.

“Are ye wantin' to buy a chair?” said Mrs. Murray. “Ye're no' needin' a chair, are ye?”

“It wis a wee chair, Mistress Murray.”

“Oh, I see! Fur yer son John's wee lassie?”

“Jist that. Aw, ye never seen a bonnier wean! Ye never—”

“An' whaur's the chair?”

Mrs. M'Crae sighed. “It wis ower dear. They wantit fower-an'-sax, an' I hadna that on me.”

“I'll len' ye the money, an' welcome,” said Mrs. Murray kindly. “Maybe I'll be able to bate them doon a saxpence onywey.”

“Ye're awfu' kind!” said Mrs. M'Crae, gratefully.

“Havers! I'm rale gled I didna spend ma money. Whaur's the chair?”

Mrs. M'Crae conducted her friend to where she had left the wee chair.

“It's awa'!” she exclaimed, suddenly depressed.

“Shairly no'!” cried her companion hopefully.

But on inquiry they found that the wee chair had been sold five minutes previously.

“It was the nicest wee chair ye ever seen. Jist the thing for ma son John's wee lassie when she's a bit bigger. Sirs, the day!”

“Never heed, Mistress M'Crae, never heed.”

But Mrs. M'Crae was inconsolable. “I had set ma hert on it. It wis that like the yin John had—it wis stolen at the flittin', an' I wis sair vexed. An' I thocht I wis gaun to git yin to tak' its place, an' noo—”

“Come awa' hame wi' me, an' ha'e a dish o' tea,” interposed Mrs. Murray, and led away her old friend, who continued to mourn.

"Everything's ower dear the day"

Even the dish of tea did not cheer her as it was wont to do, and Mrs. Murray began to get desperate in her efforts at comfort. But at last she succeeded.

“Efter a', Mistress M'Crae,” she said softly, “ye micht no' ha'e been as pleased wi' the chair if ye had gotten it. I dinna think ye wud ha'e liket gi'ein' it to yer son John's wee lassie.”

“Whit wey that?”

“Weel, ye see, ye wud aye be remindit that ye had bocht it at a jumble sale, an' a jumble sale's a' vera weel fur buyin' fenders an' things fur yersel', but it's different fur buyin' a present.”

“Ye wudna buy a present at a jungle sale?”

Mrs, Murray shook her head impressively and said firmly: “No' if I got it fur naethin'.”

Mrs. M'Crae thought for nearly two minutes. “Weel, maybe ye're richt,” she admitted.

“An' I wis gaun to say that ye cud easy get a wee chair made. I ken a man that wudna chairge mair nor the cost, him an' me bein' auld freens. An' ye cud get the wee lassie's name carvit on it, an'—”

“Aw, Mistress Murray!” cried Mrs. M'Crae in a burst of delight.