Rough Scan

      ON THE COAL 
      THIS is a vera go-ahead age,
        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 
      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
        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
        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
        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.