AT SALTCOATS I‘M sure ye must be wondering, BAILIE, what’s come ower me. Weel, I hivna’ forgot ye’ or my freens, your readers, either; but the fac’ is, I’ve been extending my business, and I’ve opened a branch establishment doon here in Saltcoats, and a’tho’ it’s no sae big as my ither establishment, yet it’s growin’, it’s growin’. Ye may weel speir what sent me doon here. Hooever, ye ken I like everything that’s auld-fashioned, and where could ye get an aulder-fashioned toon than this? The first time I saw’t was on a Glasgow Fast-day when we got a chape trip, and as I stood at the ruins o’ the auld castle (some folk say it was never a castle but just an auld saut work) at the foot o’ Castleweerock, and inhaled the ozone, I said to niysel’, “This is the place for me to start anither mammoth coal depôt tae leave tae my second laddie as an inheritance, and enjoy the fine sea air when I’m no thrang, and so maybe add a dizzen years tae my life. As it maun be a gie cauld place in winter I should, forbye, dae a guid bizzness.” I acted on the spur o’ the moment—that’s a kin’ a’ circus-looking quotation, but it’s no meant for that—an’ started richt aff. My auldest son and heir still stauns at the receipt o’ custom at Stra’bungo, and my second hauds the reins o’ management doon here, and I jisi rin back an’ forrit atween them a fortnicht here and a fortnicht there, and gie a kin’ o general supervision ower the young anes, guiding them in the paths o’ rectitude their faither has trod for sae mony years.. Weel, the langer I’m here the better I like it. Man, BAILIE, it's an auld-worl’ toon. The newspapers are makin' a great wark aboot the rowdyism o' the Glasgow Toon Council, and I am inclined tae think frae the rate they're going on, that they'll by and bye be pulling oot revolvers and bowie knives at one anither. Doon here, Toon Cooncils dinna exist, and a Provost is unknown. Every man is a law unto himsel’, and it works wunnerfu’ and saves a’ disputes. We’ve neither Magistrates, Toon Cooncil, nor Dean o’ Guild Coort. They tell me that when some new-fangled notion is agitated for they ca’ a meeting o’ the inhabitants, and after a sang or twa they hae a freenly talk, and finally come to the conclusion that they had better “leave weel alane;" it has served them in the past, and there’s nae reason why it shouldna dae sae for the future. Noo, that’s guid soun’ common sense. There’s a heep o’ folk alloo that the race is degenerating, and if so, why should they be coddled up wi’ new improvements? If we can dae withoot magistrates what’s the use a’ haein’ them? I wis reading in the papers aboot one o’ the Bailies o’ some toon or anither wha wis sentencing a prisoner, and he said, “Prisoner, God has given you health and strength, and instead o’ that ye go about stealing hens.” We’re better withoot a brilliant mind like that. Oor principal street here is no vera wide, but it serves its purpose weel eneuch, and hae this advantage that the vera shortest-sichted body can read the tickets in the shop windows on the ither side withoot goin’ aff the pavement. The pavement itsel’ is ten feet wide in some places, and in ithers no three inches. That, ye aee, gies everybody a choice; if ye’re no pleaaed wi’t in one place ye can move on a few yards tae where it does suit you. The hooses are built, some wi’ the gables tae the street, and some wi’ the fronts, and some stickin’ oot and some stickin’ in; in fac’, sae droll are they that ye wid maist think they had been dancing a quadrille, an’ that some sudden shock had left them a' stationary. Tae my mind, hooever, it’s faur mair original tae see them that way than in a hum-drum lime, no ane an inch beyond the ither, and becoming a vera weariness in their monotony. Three or fower weeks ago a lot o’ lettera apppeared in the papers aboot the dangers o' folk crossing the railways. Lod, we think naething o’ that doon here. The lines wi’ us rin richt thro’ the middle o’ the toon, and ye’ll see barrows, carts, and lassies hurling perambulators, a’ trying races wi’ the engines. Even the weans playing at the “bools” or the “peever” neier fash their thoom aboot the trains, but play awa’ within a few inches o’ them, and yet naebody is ever hurt. They’re as it were, acclimatised tae it. As there’s nae bridge at the station ye’ll see the passengers running across the rails, and twa porters haulin’ up an auld, fat wife oot o’ the way of the approaching train. We perfectly un’erstaun each ither here, and when the engine whistle is heard ye’ll see the vera horses rinning tae try an’ get thro’ afore the gate is shut, so wise are they, and the engine goes kin o’ canny tae gie them a chance. Oor spiritual wants are weel looked aifter. On week days we hae the reputation o’ keeping a guid dram, frae the “Saracen’s Head” o’ the auld coaching days, wi’ its French-like stable-yard and its balconies, doon tae ony number o’ cozy, wee, auld-fashioned public-hooses where, tae elderly folk like me, a refreshment tastes twice as sweet as in ane o’ the gran’ Glasgow shops wi’ the mirrors an’ the ale pumping machinery. On Sundays we hae ample choice. Oot o’ echt kirks we hae twa o’ the auldest in Scotland, baith o’ them much alike. As ye enter the kirkyard ye see a three-legged stool in the open air wi’ the “plate” on it. The first day I went, as there wis naebody in sicht my weans werena for putting in their penny, and indeed I swithered mysel’, but suddenly I saw the elder keekin’ oot o’ a wee hoose at the back o’ the kirkyard door. I wisna sure at first whither he wis readin’ an inscription on ane o’ the tombstanes or watching me, but I thocht I wid err on the safe side, so the pennies were duly deposited, and I doot not by this time a coloured pocket-nepkin extra has been sent oot tae the Zulus. The stairs tae the gallery are ootside o’ the building a’thegither, so that when ye get tae the heid o’ them, and open the daor, ye are in the kirk, touching the ceiling. In ane o’ the kirks, hinging frae the roof, is a full-rigged ship, a model o’ the clippers that used tae rin frae Saltcoats to Demerera—for, min’ ye, Saltcoats wis once a great shipping place, and tae this day we hae captains and captains’ widows in abundance. We don’t copy your big toons aither; we chalk oot a line o’ oor ain; even oor milk cairts, instead o’ haeing your wee, paltry-lookin’ roon barrels, hae fine, big, sqnare boxes that maist fill the cart and look substantial like. Even oor post office is unique. It’s the front hauf o’ an ironmonger’s shop, and when ye go in for a ha’penny stamp ye are surrounded by gless cases full o’ frying pans, ashets, and goblets, which ye can study the time the lassie is serving ye. But we hae oor periods o’ excitement, tae, BAILIE. No long ago they grippit a shark which they carried up to Kilmarnock tae let the toon’s-folk see what like a beast it wis; and every noo and again a circus comes and sets up its tent, and sen’s oot gran’ bills showing the performers riding on their heids wi’ their legs going thro’ a balloon. Then the Salvation Army gied us a turn a while syne. I gie ye a copy o’ their proclamation. When I read it first I thought it wis the French coming to bombard the hale toon. Here it is :- “Captain M'Phee, the American tambourine player, and male and female warriors, with an army of blood and fire soldiers, will march through Saltcoats on Tuesday first, at 6 p.m. “6.30—Knee drill. “7—Spiking of the enemy’s cannon. "7.30—Fire and blazes along the whole line. “8.30—Surrender of the entire opposing forces; red-hot gospel shots will be fired into the devil’s ranks. “Happy Joe, the champion pigeon-flyer, from Sheffield, will play on his hallelujah fiddle.” We were ower canny for them, hooever, so they hae shaken the dust aff their feet at us, and gene tae pastures new. We hae a gran’ Golf Club, at which I wis asked tae tak’ a haun, but I doot I’m ower stiff noo; and we hae as much dynamite made every week, a mile frae us, as wid blaw the hale o’ Roosia tae bits. Then for fresh fish it bates a’. Ye'll see the women coming up wi’ the fish every morning frae the quay, an’ them that fresh they’ll be jumping oot o' the barrows ontae the street. But above a’ we hae lots o’ fresh air blawing richt in frae America, ye may say, so ye can weel believe that the doctors here cry that it’s “miserably healthy.” There’s jist one hearse for the hale district; and, indeed, I think it was here that the gravedigger said, “Trade wis that bad that he hadna buried a leevin’ sowl for six weeks.” Glasgow folk talk about Arran, and its hills, and its air, and they think they’re weel aff if they can get a fortnicht at it in simmer, but here every morning when I’m shaving I can see a’ the Arran hills, and inhale a’ its breezes and the fine sautwater smell o’ cockles and wreck, withoot needing tae risk the voyage ower on a coarse day. BAILIE, come doon and see us, and I’ll gie ye a dram that’ll dae ye guid efter yer dinner.