“Mairi! Look out the window!”
“All those lovely laddies!”
Peeking out from behind the curtains, Mairi saw dozens of soldiers.
“Who might they be?”
“Polish army,” answered Fiona.
“Aye. Evacuated from Dunkirk. They cannot go back to Poland.”
The three flatmates got dressed and ran out to the street. It was the last week in June 1940 and still light at nine o’clock. Girls were standing on the pavement waving and calling to the men. The soldiers bowed and smiled.
“Where might you be staying?” called out Jeannie.
“We have built camps on the outskirts of town, Mademoiselle,” answered one of the officers.
“On the banks of the River Clyde?” asked Fiona.
“Next to the river whose name I now know, Mademoiselle.” He bowed with a charming smile.
“Who might you be?” she asked?
“I am Porucznik (First Lieutenant) Witold Przewuski.”
“Aye. Lieutenant, would you and a few of your friends care to come to our flat for a wee tea tomorrow afternoon?”
“Mademoiselle, we are most charmed.”
Porucznik Prsewuski bowed and smiled at the girls. “I will bring five friends perhaps? Two men for each lady.”
“Oh that will be—lovely!”
“Au revoir, Mademoiselles!”
Later that night the girls discussed what to serve.
“Those laddies are used to fancy French cooking. And that Lieutenant Whatever-His-Name-Is looks like an aristocrat to me,” said Mairi.
“Na, none of your blather. Scottish food will be new for them,” said Jeannie.
The next morning Mairi rolled out dough for scones and Jeannie made oatcakes. Fiona went to St. Cuthbert’s for fresh butter, clotted cream, and raspberry jam. And marmalade the colour of Mairi’s hair.
They got out their best teapot with the blue and white floral pattern. The cups and saucers did not quite match but they were colorful and Mairi had a tea cosy with a cat design. The silverware did not match either but they polished it until is sparkled.
Porucznik Prsewuski with five fellow officers arrived at the flat at four o’clock. Each of the men presented the girls with flowers.
“Aye and when did you have the time to find these lovely flowers?” asked Jeannie.
The men bowed and smiled. “Friendship is very important to us,” explained Porucznik Andrzej Wierzbicki. “And so is romance.” He winked.
A handsome black haired officer presented Mairi with a bouquet. “I am Porucznik Pawel Szymczyszyn. Please address me as Paul.”
When Mairi told Paul her name he looked confused.
“Mary?” she suggested.
“Tak! In Poland, Maria is the most beloved of names.
“Pani Maria,” he continued. “Can tell you us where to find the nearest Catholic church?”
“In Motherwell. Nearly forty kilometers from here.”
“We will go tomorrow and give thanks to God for leading us to this town of enchanting ladies.”
“But tomorrow is....” Maire stopped. She was going to say that tomorrow was Friday. Did these handsome charming young men love God so much that they would travel twenty five miles to church? On a weekday?
Witold spoke. “Gentlemen, Pani Fiona has offered to teach us Scottish dancing.”
“Most excellent!” cried the other five men.
“We will all meet in the park, tomorrow evening. We will bring more men, and Fiona will invite more ladies.”
The girls arrived at the park the next evening to find at least fifty officers and more than twenty local women. The Polish flag proudly waved next to the Scottish flag.
Paul was nowhere about. Mairi tried to pretend that she did not notice.
After the dancing started, suddenly he was there, right beside her.
“I wish to become skilled in the Scottish way of dancing,” he said.
The officers loved to dance and learned easily. Unlike Scotsmen, the Poles allowed the women to be in the spotlight. They danced late into the evening, long after darkness had fallen at eleven o’clock.
Paul escorted Mairi back to her flat. “Pani Maria let us take a drive to the country on Sunday.”
He kissed her hand.
The next morning as Mairi walked down her street, she saw the sparkle of sunlight on the gray pavement and heard the song of the skylark. She smelled the sweet odor of roses and the aroma of freshly baked scones. She recalled the tune “Scotland the Brave” from last night’s dance and the words which now had new meaning for her:
“Wild are the winds to meet you;
Staunch are the friends that greet you.
Kind as the light that shines
From fair maiden's eyes.”
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