ON THE COAL TRADE THIS is a vera go-ahead age, BAILIE, and we Scotch are comin' on—we’re no much ahint the Yankees. Hoo different frae 30 years ago; then business was done quietly, soberly, and in order—noo it’s a’ push, scramble, an’ hurry; an I’m a wee afraid there’s whiles a lee or twa tell’t. Just walk alang the streets, an’ what d’ye see?— "Immense sacrifice! Previous to stock-taking a good pound’s worth for five an’ sixpence." "Fire! Fire!! Fire!!! Goods slightly damaged by water at half-price." "Jeems So-and-so has bought the bankrupt stock of Willie Such-another-body frae the trustee at 75 per cent. less than cost price, an’ will gi’e the public the benefit" (sideways). There are ithers wha advertise in a mair genteel way-mair honest an’ quietlike—but they’re sly, desperately sly. "Orders of £1 and upwards carriage paid to all parts of Europe and China." "All goods carefully delivered per our own vans ten times daily, or oftener, if required." "Owing to a great press of business, we crave the forbearance of our customers if orders are not delivered so promptly as they would wish." In my line—the coal way, ye ken—things go on pretty much in the auld groove: although there’s a heap o’ opposition we don’t deliver the coals carriage paid tae China, nor ha’e I ever been asked tae dae sae—if we deliver roon’ the corner we chairge a penny a hun’er extra—nor dae we ever advertise we ha’e bought a bankrupt stock an’ are selling it at 75 per cent. aff. No, thank guidness, we ha’ena come that length yet; when we dae, I’ll gie’t up At my time o’ life I couldna leeve aye in a ferment—aye selling aff. Of course I’m aye selling aff in one way, but it’s in a regular way—no in a spasmodic, feverish way. Still, even in oor line we’re subject tae bits o’ variorums noo an’ again. A wheen years since I min’ a lot o’ folk tried coal selling in a genteel way—at least they thocht it wis a genteel way. They rented a shop, an’ having got it a’ nicely pented, they got a desk, a box o’ pens, a ruler, a big book, an ink bottle, an’ twa-three wafers, an’ a laddie tae min’ them a! Next they bocht three hun’erwecht o’ coals, an’ breakin’ them up intae lumps o’ different sizes, they stuck them intae the window arranged very nately, I’ll admit. Then every lump wis ticketed differently— "Duke o’ Hamilton’s Jewel Coal, 14s. 6d." "Lord Belhaven’s Wishaw Coal, 13s. 6d." "Dixon’s Best Parlour, 12s 6d., delivered at the door." "Camlachie Black Seam, l0s. 6d., for kitchen use." An’ see on. For a wee I got a fricht, an’ even went the length o’ gettin’ estimates for the penting o’ my coal ree, an’ the fitting up o’ a bit box, wi’ an umberella stand an’ a chair, tae tak’ orders in; but it blew by. They a’ gie’d it up. Then they tried anither new-fangled way. Instead o’ the fine auld respectable twenty-four hun’erwecht lying loose in the cart, wi’ the horse daunering awa’ at its leisure, an' the carter an’ the man tae put them in walking behin’ smoking, they got bits o’ spring vans wi’ licht horses, an’ the coals in bags, an’ twa men sitting on the tap, ane driving an’ the ither hauding the coals frae tummling aff, an’ the horse fleeing alang the street as if it wis a fire engine. They only gied twenty hun’erwecht, so whether the folk thocht they lost the fower hun’erwecht tae mak’ up for the horse rinning sae hard, or what it wis, I kenna, but it’s maist defunct noo, an’ we work awa’ in oor auld way. Trade’s no’ brisk enoo, but I’m thankful tae say it’s improving: I sold three hun’erwecht an’ a hauf mair last week than the correspondin’ week last year, sae ye see I’ve nae reason tae compleen. There’s ither twa in the same line in the district, an’ ane o’ them—a Mr Saumon—did a big business at one time; but what wi’ my civility, an’ me bein’ an elder, I manage tae get alang gey weel. Some o’ the folk at first jist slippit intae my ree at an odd time, gi’eing the ither man the big share, till they saw the advantage o’ comin’ my way, which they dae noo gey often. Ye see there’s great difference in coal; them I keep are saft, an’ burn awa’ clear an’ bricht, and leave vera few ashes, an’ what they dae leave is clean, while the coals Mr Saumon sells are vera hard an’ kin’ o’ cross-grained. There’s nae breakin’ o' them, they’re jist like a wheen hard whinstanes; in fact, there’s a neebour woman o’ oors—a Mrs M’Faurlan, wha being a guid-sister o’ Mr Saumon’s, aye bocht her coals frae him—an’ as oor Betty was telling me, ae day when she wis in Mrs M’Faurlan’s hoose ha’ein a crack, the body began pouterin’ up the fire tae mak’ it bile the kettle, an’ the coals were sae confoondit hard that what wi’ the daudin’ an smashin’ at them tae break them the body fairly knockit her thoom oot o’ joint, forbye dinging cot twa o’ the ribs o’ the grate. Noo, ye ken it’s a sin for onybody tae sell coals like that. I hope I’ll never dae’t, onyway.