Domesticities/Mrs. McCrae is Affronted
MRS. M'CRAE IS AFFRONTED
“COME awa' ben, Mistress Murray, come awa' ben,” said Mrs. M'Crae hospitably, guiding her friend into the little parlor.
“Are ye no' ower busy?” inquired Mrs. Murray.
“Na, na; I'm no' that thrang the day. An' hoo's a' wi' ye? Ye'll ha'e come room' to hear aboot the suree, like?”
“Jist that, Mistress M'Crae. But I'm no' gaun to bide a meenit if ye're the least thing thrang.”
“Aw, sit ye doon, sit ye doon. The kettle's jist on the bile, an' we'll ha'e a dish o' tea, an' I'll tell ye a' aboot the suree, an' welcome. It wis an unco peety ye cudna gang, but it wis a mercy ye hadna peyed fur yer tuckets, you an' yer man. I mind when auld Mistress Wallace's man got two tuckets fur a suree an' peyed fur them jist three days afore he dee'd; an', if ye'll believe me, Mistress Murray, Mistress Wallace has thae tuckets yet, an' they're near twal' year auld.”
“Cud she no' get the money back?” asked Mrs. Murray, who had seated herself at the window.
“No' a faurden! The commytee gaed bankrupt. I heard it wis wi' gi'en the folk a cookie ower an' abin the usual—onywey, it tuk them a' their time to pey the baker an' the singers, let alane Mistress Wallace.”
“But I wudna think the commytee that wis lukin' efter last nicht's suree wud gang bankrupt an' refuse fur to pey fur tuckets that hadna been used.”
“Maybe no', Mistress Murray, maybe no'. But I aye think it's jist a temptin' o' Providence to buy tuckets fur a suree afore the vera day. Of coorse, ye ken the yin I had fur last nicht wis—wis—whit d'ye ca' it?”
“Ay. Sol I wisna takin' ony risk, as it were. But I maun see aboot the tea. Keep yer sate, Mistress Murray. I'll no' be lang.”
Five minutes later the twain were together again.
“Weel, aboot the suree, Mistress M'Crae,” said Mistress Murray as soon as the cups were filled.
“Well, as ye ken, ma man, bein' foresman in sic a big work as Maister Paurley's wis on the platform, an' Mistress Blaikie an' masel' gaed early an' got a sate whaur we had a graun view o' the hale proceedin's. There wis mony a bigger front on the platform, but no' yin cleaner nor ma man's.”
“I believe ye, Mistress M'Crae. Wha was in the chair?” put in Mrs. Murray.
“I dinna mind his name, but I was rale vexed fur him when he got up to mak' a speech. He had nae mair v'ice nor a moose, but to see him ye wud ha'e thocht he wis roarin' at the folk. An' he wis a shakin' an' sweetin', an' pechin', puir man, an' the folk wis aye gi'en' him a bit stamp an' cheer to gar him haste, an' the yins on the platform whiles clappit an' duntit the table to encourage him. Deed, I was vexed fur him. Ma man said to me efter that he wis a rale fine gentleman, but nae spokesman.”
“But a' that wud be efter ye had yer tea.”
“Ay. I wis gaun to tell ye aboot the tea. My! I wis that affrontit wi' Mistress Blaikie! Aw, ye never seen sic a thing, Mistress Murray!”
“Whit wis that? She wisna poochin', shairly.”
“Na, na. But she wis poorin' oot the tea frae yin o' thon things, an'—”
“Ye mean the urn.”
“Mphm. She wis fillin' her ain cup when she begood to sneeze, an' pu'ed back her haun' quick, ye ken. But her finger wis catched in the wee handle, an' she pu'ed ower the hale affair an' broke twa cups an' a saucer, an' drookit a' her pastries, an' soakit her claes, an' gey near droondit a wean wha wis settin' aside her. But that wisna whit affrontit me. Afore I kent whaur I wis she had slippit oot the door—we wis settin' near a door, ye ken—an' she never cam' back. An' near a' the folk thocht I had made the mess—ay, even the waiter said, 'Ye auld footer' ablow his breith, an' a laddie in the gallery cried doon, 'Haw, mistress, is yer biler brustit?'”
“The impiddence!” exclaimed Mrs. Murray indignant and sympathetic.
“But that wisna a',” went on Mrs. M'Crae, “that wisna a', Mistress Murray. It wis a gey lang while afore I cud luk up at the platform again, an' when I did tak' a bit keek there wis ma man settin' wi' a rid face an' no' peyin' ony attention to his tea or the crack that wis gaun on roon' aboot him. I tried fur to catch his e'e, but he wudna luk ma wey, an' I shin seen that he wis affrontit tae. An' I wis near cryin' oot to him, 'It wisna me, it wisna me!' jist like a wean, ye ken.”
“Deed, I can unnerstaun' hoo ye wud feel, Mistress M'Crae,” said Mrs. Murray kindly.
“Aw, I wis that ashamed, Mistress Murray, I wis that ashamed. I tried to eat ma pastry, but it wis like to choke me; an' yinst or twicet I wis near gettin' up an' fleein' awa' hame. But I thocht it wis best to keep ma sate, an' efter a wee the folk stoppit frae lukin' at me, an' the wean that Mistress Blaikie had near droondit wi' the tea says to me, the daurlin', says she, 'I ken it wisna you, mistress.' An' that garr'd me feel a wee thing easier, an' I gi'ed her ma pastry. Then we a' got up an' sang the psawm, ye ken, an' efter that cam' the speakin' that I tell't ye aboot.”
“An' efter that the concert, nae doot.”
“Jist that. But I didna enjye the concert, Mistress Murray, I didna enjye the concert.”
“Did ye no'? Had they no a guid comic? I aye think the concert depends on the comic, Mistress M'Crae. The ither singers is a' vera weel fur gi'ein' the comic a bit rest. Had they no' a guid comic last nicht?”
“Ay, I'm no' sayin' onythin' agin him, an' the folk wis a' lauchin' whenever he cam' on the platform. But—but hoo cud I lauch at a comic, Mistress Murray, hoo cud I lauch at a comic wi' ma man settin' there lukin' meeserable? Tell me that, Mistress Murray!”
“Weel, weel,” said the visitor, soothingly, “I daursay ye're richt. But maybe if ye had gi'ed a lauch noo an' then, yer man might ha'e lauched tae. D'ye see?”
“Ay; I see whit ye mean. But I maun tell ye that I wis whit they ca' laborin' in a collusion, Mistress Murray.”
“Eh? Oh, ay. Under a delusion, ye mean.”
“Aweel, it's a' yin. I wis laborin' that wey, onywey. I thocht ma man wis affrontit, but I fun' oot efter it wis jist his teeth wis hurtin' him.”
“D'ye tell me that? Dearie me! He sud get them ta'en oot, Mistress M'Crae.”
“Deed, they're jist new in, puir man. An' that wis the wey he cudna tak' his tea nor lauch at the comic. But I didna ken that till the suree wis ower.” Mrs. M'Crae paused for a few moments, then added, very solemnly, “But I'll never be freens again wi' Mistress Blaikie—no' if she wis to gang on her bendit knees! I'm jist tellin' ye.”
“I doot she'll be gey ashamed o' hersel' the day,” observed Mrs Murray, and proceeded to change the subject—but soon reverted to it, for, after a hasty glance out of the window, she drew back hastily, exclaiming, “Weel, I never! If it's no' jist hersel' comin' up the street!”
“Eh? Whit d'ye say?”
“I'm sayin' I seen Mistress Blaikie comin' up the street. Wull she be comin' here, think ye?”
“She'll no' get in this hoose onywey!” cried the hostess, excitedly. “She'll no' put her fit inside ma door, I warrant ye!” And Mrs. M'Crae peeped cautiously from the window. “I canna see her. I doot she's comin'. She'll be in the close noo, but she can ring, an' ring, an' ring but I'll no' open the door to her.”
“Maybe she's comin' to say she's sorry.”
“Weel, she can say that at the keyhole. If she comes to the door, me an' you'll never let on we're in the hoose.”
“There she is,” whispered Mrs. Murray, as a timid tinkle was heard.
Mrs. M'Crae pursed her lips.
“I doot she's awfu' ashamed,” said Mrs. Murray, softly.
A minute passed and they heard another little ring. They looked at each other awhile.
“She'll be gaun awa' noo,” said Mrs. Murray at last.
“Let her gang!”
The bell rang a third time.
“Aw, Mistress M'Crae,” said her friend, “ye sud let her in.'
“Aw, but, wis it no' her that knittit thon rale fine wee shawley fur ye're son John's wee lassie?”
In an instant Mrs. M'Crae's face changed.
“My! If I hadna furgot!” And she hurried from the parlor.
She was too late. Her visitor had gone. She returned to the parlor with tears in her eyes; then suddenly flung open the window and bawled—
“Come back, Mistress Blaikie, come back!”
- ↑ Soirée.