On Friday as I was walking to work I heard a fearful noise behind me. We had all been hearing about the new horseless carriages that were powered by some sort of steam engine, but this is the first I’d seen one. The driver wore goggles, a big hat and a sort of big overcoat over his tweed suit, and as he drove by me he shouted, “Hello there, little lady!” in a very un-English or Scottish voice. His machine certainly scared the horses on the road, and I heard their riders cursing it. I could hear the man laughing as he passed them. There was a stink in the air from the smoke that came out of its backside. Between the bicycles more and more of the lads are riding and the horseless carriages the roadways are becoming more and more busy – and dangerous for those on foot.
That afternoon I answered the doorbell and who should be there but the gentleman of the horseless carriage. I could see it outside the carriage house. I took his hat, goggles and overcoat, and he said to me, “Well, we meet again! Mr. Markam is expecting me, little lady.” He patted me on the back and just walked into the drawing room without waiting to be announced.
“Angus, old boy, here I am, just as I promised. And this must be your good wife.” He shook hands with the master and then took madam’s hand and gave it a hearty shake. “Jim Thomas at your service, ma’am. Pleased to meet you.”
As I was bringing in the tea and cake, Mr. Thomas was telling them all about his voyage over, and how he brought his own automobile. The roads in England and Scotland are terrible, he said, but he expected they would get better as more and more of the automobiles were introduced. Driving on the hard ground of winter was certainly easier than bogging down in the mud when it was wet.
He and Mr. Markam had met in America, and he was interested in buying wool from the mills, to use in his textile business. Mr. Markam thought this was a fine idea, it would save him from making all those trips to sell his wool. All he would have to do would be to have it shipped direct from the mill to Liverpool to be transported to New York. “But right now I’d like to see some of the mills, Angus”, he said to the master. Come on, I’ll give you your first automobile ride in my machine. There’s some extra gear in it you can wear over your duds.”
As the master left the room to find his suit jacket I heard Mr. Thomas ask madam if she found it difficult to find and train servants in Wick.
She got quite frosty with him. “Servants are an inferior class,” she said, “ They are not difficult to find, but they must be trained carefully and constantly supervised. They have few morals and would go off with the first apprentice who looked at them.” That made me steaming mad, but I had to keep my face straight as I handed Mr. Wilson his things.
Having proved myself to Mrs. Andrew’s satisfaction I find she is treating me more pleasantly, but to madam I will always be a mindless thing with no ears to hear and no feelings.