‘Na, na; it’s jist deleecious,’ she protested, ‘efter the smell o’ the country.’
‘Did ye no like the country, Miss Tod?’
’Maybe I could ha’e endured it till the week was up, if it hadna been for ma auld frien’. Ye see, the puir body couldna speak or think o’ onything excep’ airyplanes fleein’ through the air an’ drappin’ bombs on her dwellin’ hoose an’ her hen-hoose, no forgettin’ her pig-hoose. Mornin’, noon an’ nicht, she kep’ speirin’ at me if I was prepared to meet ma Maker, maybe wantin’ a leg. Oh, I was rale vexed for her, I tell ye, but when she took the mattress aff ma bed to protect her sewin’ machine frae bombs, I says to masel’: ’If I’ve got to dee, I wud like to dae it as comfortable as I can, an’ I’m sure ma Maker’ll no objec’ to that . . . an’ so, at last, I jist tied up ma things in the broon paper, an’ said I had enjoyed masel’ fine, but was anxious aboot the shop—a terrible falsehood, dearie!—an’ gaed to catch the sax o’clock train, an’ catched the yin afore it. . . . An’ here I am. I wud ha’e let ye enjoy yer pairty in peace, but what wi’ the forebodin’s o’ ma auld frien’ an’ the scent o’ the hens an’ pigs, I could thole nae longer.’
‘In short,’ Christina brightly remarked, ’ye was completely fed up. Weel, weel, ye’ll sune forget aboot yer troubles in the joys o’ pursuin’ pastries. We’ll fetch the table close to ye so as ye can fall to wi’oot unduly streetchin’ yer neck. Mac, get busy! Toast this cookie.’
‘She’s a great manager,’ Miss Tod said, smiling to Macgregor. ’But she’ll mak’ ye a rael guid wife when ye come back frae the wars——’
‘Oh, whisht, Miss Tod!’ cried Christina. ’Ye’ll cause him to blush.’ Which was rather a mean way of diverting attention from her own complexion.
However, at that moment the bell rang, and exclaiming, ’Anither boom in trade!’ she darted into the shop.
The customer seemed to be in a great hurry, for almost immediately she reappeared in the sitting-room. She was smiling and carried a small package in her hand.
‘Guess wha it was,’ said she.
‘The meenister,’ replied Miss Tod, who for some mysterious reason always guessed the reverend gentleman, who happened to be a customer.
‘On the contrary,’ said Christina.
‘Wullie Thomson,’ said Macgregor, suddenly remembering the borrowed threepence.
‘Up dux! Ye deserve a sweetie.’ She presented the bag, open. ‘What sort are they?’
He laughed and answered—’War Loan Lozengers.’
AUNT PURDIE INTERVENES
The battalion was not an hour returned from the longest, hottest, dustiest and most exhausting route march yet experienced. Macgregor was stretched on his bed, a newspaper over his face, when an orderly shook him and shoved a visiting card into his hand.
‘She’s waitin’ ootside,’ he said and, with a laugh, departed.