Pamela gratefully accepted the invitation to tea, and said as to luncheon she was sure Miss Bathgate would be awaiting her with a large dish of stewed steak and carrots saved from the night before—so she departed.
* * * * *
Later in the day, as Miss Bathgate sat for ten minutes in Mrs. M’Cosh’s shining kitchen and drank a dish of tea, she gave her opinion of the lodger.
“Awfu’ English an’ wi’ a’ the queer daft ways o’ gentry. ’Oh, Miss Bathgate,’ a’ the time. They tell me Miss Reston’s considered a beauty in London. It’s no’ ma idea o’ beauty—a terrible lang neck an’ a wee shilpit bit face, an’ sic a height! I’m fair feared for ma gasaliers. An’ forty if she’s a day. But verra pleasant, ye ken. I aye think there maun be something wrang wi’ folk that’s as pleasant as a’ that—owre sweet to be wholesome, like a frostit tattie! ... The maid’s ca’ed Miss Mawson. She speaks even on. The wumman’s a fair clatter-vengeance, an’ I dinna ken the one-hauf she says. I think the puir thing’s defeecient!”
" ... Ruth, all heart and tenderness
Who wept, like Chaucer’s Prioress,
When Dash was smitten:
Who blushed before the mildest men,
Yet waxed a very Corday when
You teased the kitten.”
Before seeking her stony couch at the end of her first day at Priorsford, Pamela finished the letter begun in the morning to her brother.
* * * * *
" ... I began this letter in the morning and now it is bedtime. Robinson Crusoe is no longer solitary: the island is inhabited. My first visitors arrived about 11 a.m.—a small boy and a dog—an extremely good-looking little boy and a well-bred fox-terrier. They sat on the garden wall until I invited them in, when they ate chocolates and biscuits, and the boy offered to repeat poetry. I expected ‘Casabianca’ or the modern equivalent, but instead I got the song from Hippolytus, ’O take me to the Mountains, O.’ It was rather surprising, but when he invited me to go with him to his home, which is next door, it was more surprising still. Instead of finding another small villa like Hillview with a breakneck stair and poky little rooms, I found a real old cottage. The room I was taken into was about the nicest I ever saw. I think it would have fulfilled all your conditions as to the proper furnishing of a room; indeed, now that I think of it, it was quite a man’s room.
“It had a polished floor and some good rugs, and creamy yellow walls with delicious coloured prints. There were no ornaments except some fine old brass: solid chairs and a low, wide-seated sofa, and books everywhere.
“The shape of the room is delightfully unusual. It is long and rather low-ceilinged, and one end comes almost to a point like the bow of a ship. There is a window with a window-seat in the bow, and as the house stands high on a slope and faces west, you look straight across the river to the hills, and almost have the feeling that you are sailing into the sunset.