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  Mrs Montgomerie's Wee Shop


Mrs Montgomerie had a little shop down our street where she retailed small groceries and vegetables, delft ware and gossip. All the women in the neighbourhood liked to get some of their purchases from Mrs Montgomerie; for although her goods were dearer than what you would pay in Liptons or in the Co, yet where could you get so much gossip. You only had to buy "A penny's worth o' vegetables for broth - nae syboes" "Mrs Montgomerie" For that penny, you get enough news to last even a woman for a whole week. But in the Co - in the Co you could spend two solid shillings and all the news you got from the energetic shopman was, "Anythin' else the day? That'll be a shillin, a shillin, one an six, one an six - one an' ninepence three farthings, canary seed tuppence - one an' elevenpence three farthings - matches for the farthing - twa shillins. Wha's next?"

On the day I speak of there were congregated in Mrs Montgomerie's shop, the wives and widows of the district. The following is something like what I heard from the lips of the shopwoman.

Is it no' an awfy thing that some folks canna keep their tongues aff their neebours. If it's no' wan it's another, an' that Mrs McCallum is the worst o' the hale jing bang. She's that two-faced an' ah can nut thole deceit - an' if she ever comes tae ma door Ah'll tell her plump an' plain whit ah think o' her. Ah'll no' be a bit meally moothed wi' her. Ah'll just tell her tae her verra face exactly whit - oh wheest, here, she's comin' - mind whit ye're sayin'!

It's yersel' Mrs McCallum. We wir just talkin aboot ye. Hoo is John's sair foot - Oh, that's nice...wi' Dr Johnson. He's a richt skillfu' man, an' ye ken, it must be awfu' comfortin tae think that John's sair foot is in the hands o' a kent face. Ah wis just sayin' that it would be a grand thing, if that Mrs Blue wid learn ta3 keep her tongue aff her neebours. Tae a wumman like me wi' a real regulated mind, it's perfectly disgracefu'. She just gangs frae hoose tae hoose getherin claivers, an' she gets her tea here and her tea there an' tells in your hoose whit she hears in mines, an she claiver, claivers on; an' the claivers cam aff her like, like snaw aff a juck's back. Ah used to be sorry for her puir man havin' tae listen tae a' her stories, tillAh heard he wis stone deaf. An' Ah just said tae mysel, "Weel, Providence is kind." An' she couldna keep her tongue aff her man neithers, for she said to me, in his verra presence, "Mrs Montgomerie, Ah never need fur tae bile a kettle, fur John always keeps me in hot watter." The same John hadna the spunk o' a moose or he woulda puttiin her oot the hoose.

What's that awa' by - Ah declare if it's no' Mrs Christie, an' wi a split new dolman. Hmm. It's weel seein' she doesna pey fur a' she gets, her. Her an' her super-silly-ass airs, an' her owin' me fowerpence an' the len' o' ma jeely pan.

Whit's that yer sayin? Ah'm no' hearin' richt, for Ah hivnae ma teeth in. Willie McGribble, her guid brither - a drunken wretch. Faur be it fur me tae say ony ill aboot onybody, but William McGribble is jist a nyaff, an' so wis his faither afore him. Ah mind o' Dr Johnson comin' tae see him when he wis threatened wi' blindness. "Noo Willie," says the Doctor, "Either ye hiv got tae stop the whisky or lose yer eyesight." "Ah weel," says Willie, "Ah'm an auld man noo, an' Ah'm thinkin that Ah've seen everythin that's worth seein'." That's no' a cairyit story, fur a got it frae a cizzen o' the wife that used tae wash the close to his guid sister's auntie.

Whit's that? Tippence worth o' potted heid. There ye are, son.

That's Tam McFud's youngest. Aye, Tam's aye cairryin' oan the coal business doon the Water Wynd. At least his wife does the business. He does the cairryin' oan.

Awfu' sad aboot pair Polly McWheechle. Went tae her bed as usual last nicht, an' when she woke up this mornin' she wis deid. Ah'm awfu' sorry fur her mither. She'll be awfu' pitten aboot aboot it. Aye, and this is her washin day.

Wis Ah showin ye Jeannie's photie? It's her deid image, tae the life, an' only thruppence the dozen. Of course, they couldna tak her feet in fur that, but that wis a great blissin' for her boots wis lettin in at the time.

Ur ye sittin' oan this term, Mrs McGinty? Oh, aye, Ah had the factor in at me the day. Ah fairly like the factor. He's a rale promisin' young man; in fact he wid promise ye onythin. Ah wis speakin' tae him aboot the close, an' he says we'll a' need tae tak a turn at it. Speakin' aboot the close, it's disgracefu' how that lass upstairs stauns tae a' hoors o' the mornin' wi' her lad. Whish-whish-whisperin' awa' like a burst pipe - ye canna get a wink o' sleep fur them Aye, an' they speak that quate, ye canna mak oot a word they're sayin!

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