Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
- TITLE: All in a Swither
By Ann Grover
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The table is set for me, with butter and fresh scones, a boiled egg, a dish of strawberries, and a cup of tea. Dear Mrs. Hobbs. I shall miss her. What was I saying? Had I decided, then? Is it off to Canada with me?
It is nae so easy to make up my mind. I'd been born here, hadn't I, and knew all the folks for miles around and had explored every nook and cranny. Isn't that it, though? There weren't anything left to discover. My family slumbers in the kirk yard, every last one of them, waitin' for the Last Trump. I bite into the scone, butter dripping from my fingers. Aye, that woman can cook.
I tidy up the supper things, and sit down in my worn armchair, closing my eyes. Vast forests, endless prairies, majestic mountains. Such breathtaking grandeur! So say the information pamphlets. Opportunity! Adventure! An exhilarating sea journey! Sure, I'm getting a little long in the tooth, but I'm still hale and hearty. A position will be available upon my arrival. I blow out the lamp. Plenty of time for thinking tomorrow.
As I pull on my wool sweater the next morning, I ponder how I shan't miss the perennial fog and damp. Downstairs, Mrs. Hobbs is humming as she makes my breakfast. I hurry.
"How are you the day, Dr. Pringle?"
"Fine." The porridge is perfect, smooth and not stodgy, with a trickle of new cream. Mrs. Hobbs pours my tea, piping hot and strong, very welcome on such a chilly morning.
"Mr. Sims and Mrs. Betts are here."
"Thank you." I scoop up the last spoonful of porridge.
"Dr. Pringle." Mrs. Hobbs shyly dabs at my chin with the napkin. Och, her eyes are blue as a loch on a sunny day.
Mr. Sims has a boil on his shoulder. I drain it, and recommend it would not be untoward if he were to avail himself of generous amounts of soap and water at least once every other fortnight. He scoffs. Stubborn galoot.
Mrs. Betts had been a bonnie lass in her day, but a dozen children later, she has arthritic knees and selective deafness, no doubt caused by the constant clamouring of her unruly brood. I'd treated one or another of the hooligans for a variety of ailments, from dog bites to tumbles from rooftops. Today, in light of her current malady, I suggest Mr. Betts might wish to curb his animal appetites.
"Are ye daft? If I dinna have his mutton on the table every night, he'd be after me head."
"Suit yourself, Mrs. Betts." I sigh. Surely, such ignorance doesn't exist in Canada, nor people so prone to niggardly ways. For services rendered thus far this day, I've earned two potatoes and a dirty floor. Uncouth, stingy eejits.
After a swiftly taken lunch of bread and tea--bless Mrs. Hobbs--I treat a rash, a cough, a limp, a toothache, and a gouty toe. Then, Fiona MacDermott steps in with wee Angus. Such a bonnie bairn, with his rosy cheeks and red hair. He reaches for me, smearing my collar with a thread of drool.
"Doctor, he's fussin' and frettin'."
"Just give him a clean flannel, wrung out in cold well water."
"Thenk ye. Och, I almost forgot!" She hands me a sack, and a peek reveals a fat hen, ready for the pot. I drool a bit myself.
I've known young Fiona all her life, in fact, I delivered her. Och, it'll be difficult to leave this place and go where I know no one, and no one knows me. A perilous ocean crossing to unknown hazards, terrible winters, hellish summers, and ferocious creatures. Here, the only wild beastie one might encounter is Findlay Roberts, blootered out of his mind on a Saturday night.
My supper of tatties and neeps slathered in butter is waiting. I dig in, aware of Mrs. Hobbs fussing with the crockery. She turns then, holding the teapot and a plate of biscuits. Her eyes meet mine. So verra blue.
I am an auld gowk. Here's the answer, before my own face. Dear Mrs. Hobbs, widowed these many years, making my tea and pressing my shirts, so faithful and dependable. I would indeed miss her. Yet, should I stay... Perhaps, maybe...
"Mrs. Hobbs, please, sit down. Have a cup of tea with me."
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