‘Never heed, Wullie,’ he said, later; ‘we’ll get oor chance yet.’
Willie exploded. ‘What for did ye get me to mak’ sic a —— cod o’ masel’?’
‘Cod o’ yersel’? Me?’
‘Ay, you!—gettin’ me to send a caird to ma —— aunt! What for did ye dae it?’
Macgregor stared. ‘But ye didna post it,’ he began.
‘Ay, but I did. I gi’ed it to a man at the station.’
‘Oh! . . . Weel, ye’ll just ha’e to send her anither.’
‘That’ll no mak’ me less o’ a cod.’
‘What way? What did ye write on the caird?’
Willie hesitated, muttered a few curses, and said slowly yet savagely:—
‘"Off to Flanders, wi’—wi’ kind love”—oh, dammit!’
After considering the matter at intervals for about thirty years, Miss Tod, Christina’s employer, decided to take a short change of air by accepting the long-standing invitation of an old and aged friend who dwelt in the country. The hour of departure arriving, she shed tears, expressed the fear that she was going to her death, embraced the girl, handed her the keys of the premises, and requested her to make any use she pleased of the rather stuffy living-room behind the shop.
Christina had no notion of accepting the offer until, an hour or two later, the idea struck her that it would be fun to give a little tea party for Macgregor and Willie Thomson. She knew Willie but slightly, but though her respect was no greater than her knowledge, she had kept a softish corner for him since the day, two years ago, when he had gone out of his way to inform her, impudently enough, that his friend Macgregor was not courting a certain rather bold and attractive damsel called Jessie Mary.
So she wrote forthwith to Macgregor and enclosed the following invitation, in her neatest writing, for his friend:—
Miss Christina Baldwin requests
the unspeakable pleasure of
Pte. William Thomson’s company
to T. T. Tea
on the first evening possible
(Sunday excepted) at 5.30
precisely till 7 prompt.
Sandwiches, Sausage Rolls,
Hot Cookies, Cream Dittos,
Currant Cakes, Jam Puffs,
Imperial (nee German) Biscuits,
God Save the King!
P.S.—Miss C. B. will expect
Pte. W. T. to Ask a Blessing.
It took time and patience on Macgregor’s part to persuade his friend that the missive was not a ‘cod’; but once convinced of its genuineness, Willie took the business seriously. He swore, however, to have nothing to do with the matter of the P.S. Nevertheless, in moments of solitude, his lips might have been observed to move diligently, and it is possible that he was mentally rehearsing ‘For what we are about to receive, etc.’ His written acceptance was a model in its way.