JEEMS AS AN OFFICE BOY MY third son is one o’ the noble army o’ commission agents in Glasgow. He has an office up fower stairs, wi’ a brass plate on the door, an’ a manager at £10 a year, wha, I used tae think, had naething tae dae but sit up on the high stool and sing comic sangs, or get on tae the floor an’ dance nigger break-doons. He's a rale weelbehaved wee laddie, hooever. One day when going up the stairs I heard somebody sayin’, "Here’s an auld cove wi' a white hat." Then I got a hanfu’ a’ peas in my face, an' then I heard a great hurry-scurry o’ feet rinnin’ awa’. I wid hae gi’en thruppence tae ken wha it wis, but it wisna my son’s laddie, for when I gaed in he wis up at the desk writin’ awa’ as hard as he could—wi’ the pen upside doon. I noticed—an’ he tell’t me there wis some rale bad boys on the stairheid, but that he wisna one o’ them; so I gied him a clap on the heid an’ an epple for being sae diligent in business that he hadna time tae look what en’ o’ the pen he wrote wi’. But tae my story. One day my son said his clerk wis awa' his holidays, an’ that he himsel’ had tae go to Edinburgh on business (I found oot afterwards he had gane tae the Exhibition wi’ a lass, but that disna matter), an’ wid I go up an' keep his office for the day? I wid hae naething tae dae but read the papers an’ tak’ a smoke, an’ attend tae ony telegrams that cam’, for he wid answer a’ the letters afore he started. So up I gaed an’ sat doon in his private room, an’ opened the papers an’ took a smoke. At 10.30 I heard the ootside door open. "A telegram," says I, I rushed out. A faded-lookin' man wis at the coonter. "Can I show you any gas burners?" says he. "No, thankye," says I. "Day’s patent." "No, no," says I ‘ I don't care though they we‘re Kaye's patent." "Save you money, sir. Every one is brass mounted and perforated with three holes. A most invaluable invention. Just let me try one on your gaspipe." "But, my guidness, I don't want ony"- "You’re wrong. If everybody used these patent tubular burners for a week it would knock the gas company into fits, and if they continued using them for a month every gas company would be burst up, an’ you consumers able to buy an estate; a fact, sir, I assure you. Just look at this, sir. Look at the beautiful mechanism; indiarubber joints, with automatic action, &c., &c., &C" "Oh, but, ye ken, we don’t use ony here worth speakin’ aboot; we shut at fower." "But you have a house, I hope, a happy home it may be, and it’s there the saving will be most seen. If you'll allow me"— "Noo, look here, I wis jist readin’ about"— "I'll tell you what I’ll do; they're only a shilling each"- "A shillin' for a gas burner"— "Ah, but look at the saving you effect. Why, one of them is sufficient under ordinary circumstances to light up a church, but I"- "Weel, I don’t want any, so that settles the matter. Gae awa’, gae awa’!" an’ I wis gled when he did go awa'. So doon I sat again in the private room, an' in ten minutes the ootside door opens, an' oot I rins again an' sees a weeldressed man wi’ a bundle o papers in his haun. "Beautiful day, sir!" "Maist extr'ornar fine day for the time a’ the year," says I. "I'm an insurance agent. Agent for the Nonpareil Fire and Life Insurance Company; a glorious and safe company; the largest capital and the smallest premiums. May I ask, are you insured?" "Huch no, I never bother wi' insurance. I ha'e a wee pickle money in the bank"— "That doesn’t matter, my dear sir Banks break. Riches take wings and fly away, sickness comes to most at us, and death to us all. Our company offers unparalleled inducements, and when insured in it a man may die happy, knowing that his widow and sorrowing family will, after seeing him snugly deposited in Sighthill, or elsewhere according to taste, be able to walk about in the most expensive mournings, the envy of all the neighbours. Think of it, my dear sir; think of it. How old are you?" "Sixty-nine." "Ah, a trying age, very trying even to the robust; hum, sixty-nine—trying age. Ever had the measles?" "Tut, tut, what are ye haiverin’ aboot? Man, I had the measles afore you were born. Gae awa’; gae awa’!" "Gently, my dear sir! gently till I read you our latest triumph. Case No. 204,986. Gentleman of sixty-eight and ten months, insured for £1000; insurance completed at four o’clock afternoon. In his joy at having provided for his family had a tripe supper—tripe went the wrong way—but I need not dwell on the harrowing details. His widow has now one of the most flourishing dressmaking businesses in the city. May I put down your name?" "Weel, look in the morn," says I, "an’ I’ll think ower’t." I kent fine I wid be miles aff then; so he gaed awa’ weetin’ his pencil wi’ his tongue tae mark my name doon, an’ dootless coontin’ me as "bagged." Noo, thinks I, I’ll hae peace; but in less than twenty minutes a book canvasser cam’ in an’ wid insist on spreadin’ oot his books on the coonter, clearin’ awa’ my son’s directory an’ blotting pad an’ water bottle tae mak’ room for them. He wid gie me "Buchan’s Domestic Medicine" in haufcroon parts, or "Josephus" in shilling numbers, or "Why am I a New Jerusalemite" in penny numbers. After I got rid o’ him anither cam’ in a’ hung ower wi’ tin toasters, moose traps, an’ letter files, an’ when I tell’t him I didna need ony he flourished a tin toaster in my face the same as if my face wis a finnan haddie he wis goin’ tae put on tae fry. Next in came one wantin’ my name for a directory, but as the fee wis five shillings I didna gie him it. Then an auld man openin’ the door, asked me, in a mysterious whisper, if I had any "old clo’s " tae sell. He wis the only one oot o’ the whole lot that wantit tae buy onything. After that a French sailor wi’ ear-rings wanted me tae buy some smuggled ceegaurs, but I said tae him "Nong comprong," an’ showed him my common black twist, an’ that finished him. Next a man appeared selling coals; an’ an impident lassie wi hearthbrushes; an' followin' her wis a man carryin’ a gless bowl fu’ a’ gold fish; an’ then anither that said he had walked a’ the way frae Dundee; an' after him anither selling pencils then a lady gathering money tae send oot flannel petticoats tae the female Hottentots. Gosh, sic a day as I had, it wis jist up an’ doon aff the chair as hard as I could; an’ never an order, min’ ye. At last I got fearfu’ angry, an I vowed the next ane wid get scant civility frae me, so I settled down tae read. In a wee I hears the outside door openin’ again, an’ oot I goes an’ says in a gruff tone, "Weel, what d’ye want?" The man leans ower the coonter, an’ in a mysterious whisper says, "Wid ye buy a razor?" an’ he took one oot o’ his pocket an’ flourished it at my nose. I lost my breath for a minute, but I sune recovered it, an’ lifting up the poker I cries. oot, "Rubbart, come oot here!" an’ I made a breenge at him, an’ he thinking I had been crying on my cashier or somebody, shut up the razor an’ openin’ the door, got oot as fast as he could. This, hooever, wis going ower the score, so I wrote oot a ticket an’ wafered it up on the door, "Back in 10 minutes." Then I gaed awa’ hame an’ let the office tak’ care o’ itsel’ till my son cam’ back, an’ I jist thocht, as I wis hurlin’ oot in the caur, that the office boy’s life wisna sich a sinecure after a’.