Rough Scan
 

 

 

 



 
        
       
        ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILWAY
         
         
        DEAR BAILIE,—Ye’ll 
          be wondering why I haena had a trip before this on the new Underground 
          Railway, but the truth is that Betty wis frichtit tae go, as she had 
          heard they had nae lichts.  Last 
          week, hooever, I said tae her that I had heard they had noo great raws 
          o’ lichts, an’ that the hale place wis like an illumination, so the 
          next day we gaed up tae Queen Street wi’ fear an’ trembling, for it 
          was a queer sensation for auld folk like us tae be hurlin’ doon ablow 
          the hooses an’ streets.  Getting oor tickets, awa’ we gaed the the heid 
          o’ the stair, where we saw a sign up, “Shew your tickets.”  Thinks I, the North British Railway Company 
          are coming oot in a new way noo—as reformers o’ oor spelling.  I used tae aye spell it ”show,” but maybe I 
          wis wrang.  Betty cries, “Oh,
        Jeems, I doot it’s no safe yet, for ye see we've tae shew oor tickets 
          for fear o’ us lossing them in a collision.  
          I wish I had brocht my needle an’ thread; I could hae stitched 
          them on tae your coat sleeve.”  But 
          I explained tae her it wis j ist an improved way o’ spelling.  
          Awa’ we gaed doon a wheen stairs intae a dark place that put 
          me in min’ o’ yon caverns o’ pandemonium ye see in the pantomimes, an’ 
          in a wee up comes oor train, an’ in we bundled, an’ wi’ a shriek we 
          plunged intae darkness.
        Oor carriage 
          wis gey crooded.  On one side 
          next the win­dow wis a young lad, an’ I wis next him; opposite him, 
          at the ither window, wis a young lass, an’ Betty sat next her, an’ next 
          tae Betty wis an auld fat wife wi’ a big basket, an’ then twa laddies 
          an’ a wheen ither folk.  The lad an’ lass were evidently coortin’, but 
          the lass looked as if she had been in the huff wi’ him aboot something, 
          for she held her heid awa’ frae him, an’ flattened her nose against 
          the gless.  Maybe he had been poppin’ the question afore 
          we got in.  “Hooever, it’s nane 
          o’ my business,” says I to mysel’, “we’ve a’ tae dae that once in oor 
          lives.”  As there wis nae appearance o’ ony lichts, 
          I wis a wee nervous, but I held in my breath an' sat still till I hears 
          a voice saying in a whisper, “Oh, Leezabuth, will ye no turn roon?”  Then in a wee, “Leezabuth! I say Leezabuth, 
          will ye no look at me?”  As Leezabuth 
          is my wife’s name, I thocht it wis somebody speaking tae her, so I put 
          oot my haun in the darkness tae try tae guard her face frae whaever 
          wis speaking tae her, an’ I hears in a hoarse woman’s voice that wis 
          nut Betty’s “Auld man, jist keep yer hauns tae yersel’, or I’ll 
          gi’e ye in chairge tae the polis.” 
        So I drew in my hauns an’ sat as far back as I could, an’ jist 
          as I did that, a female face fell on my neck an’ kissed me, an' said 
          in aboot the sweetest tones I hae heard for mony years, “An’ it wis 
          angry wi’ its Leezie, was it?  Oh, 
          ye’re my ain wee doo after a’.”
        “Am I,” says 
          I, “ye’ll excuse me, mem, but this is hardly the proper place for coortin’, 
          especially a man that micht be your gran’faither,” an’ whaever it wis 
          gaed a lood squeal, an’ my ain Betty cried out, “What’s wrang,
        Jeems?  Are ye feelin’ faint?” when the fat woman exclaims, 
          “It’s that auld hoary-heided ruffian trying tae kiss me.”  Then the twa laddies that were in the ither 
          corner cries :—
        “This is better 
          fun than the caur,” an they began tae whustle wi’ their fingers, an’ 
          one o’ them reached ower a walking-stick on chance, an’ knocked my hat 
          doon ower my ‘heid.
        “Michty me,” 
          says I, “this bates a’.  Wha 
          did that?  Wis that you, mem, 
          you wi’ the basket sittin’ forenent me?  
          If it wis—“
        "No, it 
          wisna me, but that wis me, ye dooble-dyed auld reprobate that ye are,” 
          an’ she cam’ doon ower my knees wi’ the basket.
        “Oh, Jeems,” 
          cried oot Betty, “I wish I had gaen in ane o' thae penny boats; they’re 
          no verra clean, but it’s aye daylicht wi’ them.”
        Jist then the 
          train arrived at one o’ the lanterns.  
          BAILIE, the science an’ skill o’ the age is extr’ornar, and the 
          North British Railway evidently spare nae expense in takin’ advantage 
          o’ it.  Being new tae underground railways at first, 
          they couldn’t be expeckit tae ken that lichts were needit, but after 
          a lot o’ indignant letters tae the papers, an’ a collision, they put 
          their best foot foremost, an’ then triumphantly exclaimed.  
          "Noo we hae the 
          tunnel lichtit up.  Noo the nervous needna be feared.  
          Noo come wi’ your pennies, an’ see what we’ve dune for ye.”  So this wis one o’ the lichts!  It wis for a’ the worl' like a spunk struck 
          suddenly, an’ then blawn oot in the middle o’ a big kirk on a dark
        nicht.  Past the licht we flash before we could, even 
          see the darkness we were in, an’ then—suppose it wis ane o’ the
        laddies-something 
          grippit me by the ankles, an' "gurred” like a dog, an’ when I made 
          a dive sideways oot o its road I cam’ against a decent, quiet man that 
          wis takin’ a smoke, an’ no’ speakin’ tae onybody, an' he leant ower 
          tae me an’ whispers, “Leezabuth’s ower at the ither corner-ye’ve turned 
          the wrang way." At this the hard-voiced woman wi’ the basket says, 
          “Is he at you noo? he’s perfectly ootrageous”; an’ I cried in my vexation, 
          “For gnidness sake, Betty, whaur are ye?” 
        “I’m here,” says the young woman.  
        “Hut, tut! it’s no’ you,” I cried, “it’s-”
        “Keep a grip 
          o’ your purse, mem,” I heard the hard-voiced woman saying, “he’s no’ 
          canny that man.  I wish we wid 
          come tae anither licht.  Oh, 
          there’s anither ane—huch, it’s awa’ already.  
          Has naebody a match?”  Evidently 
          naebody had a match, so we sat still an’ listened tae the beatin’ o’ 
          oor herts.
        “Wid ye like 
          tae come ower beside me?” I whispers across tae Betty.
        “No, I widna,” 
          cried oot the fat woman—dod, BAILIE, that woman seemed tae be a’ ower 
          the carriage-”but if there’s law an’ justice in the land, my man, ye’ll 
          get it when we come tae Finnieston.”
        "Will ye
        wheesht, woman,” says I; “I’m no’ speakin’ tae you at a’.”
        “Bow, wow, wow," 
          cam' frae the faur-awa’ corner, an' somebody cried, “Rats, Towser,” 
          an’ then there wis a great scuffling an’ worrying like, an’ Betty cried
        oot, “Oh, Jeems, this is awfu'.  I’m
        fenting.  Oh, for a drink o’ 
          water.”
        "Here,
        mem,” I heard the fat woman saying, “tak’ a sup o’ this.  Wait till I see if it’s no the bottle wi’ the 
          cough mixture.  No; here it is.”
        Noo, it seems 
          that the mention o’ a bottle livened up the quiet man, an’ he put oot 
          his haun an’ grippit the bottle, an after refreshing himsel’ he handed 
          it back tae the owner, wha asked, “D'ye feel better noo, mem?”
        “I canna say 
          I do,” says Betty.
        I thocht it 
          wis time I should help my wife, so I reached ower, but I happened tae 
          touch the bottle, when the owner screamed oot, “He’s after the bottle
        noo,” an’ there wis likely tae be anither row, only we arrived at Charing 
          Cross Station.  I thocht I wid get out afore we cam’ tae the 
          polis office at Finnieston.  When 
          we stepped on tae the platform, I says tae Betty, “Sit doon here a wee 
          an’ get your breath, an’ I’ll tak’ a smoke tae settle my nerves.”  So we sat doon on a sate, an’ I had a crack 
          wi’ ane o’ the porters.
        “Man,” says 
          he, wiping his broo wi’ his nepkin, “this is awfu’ wark.  We’re doon here a’ day, for a’ the worl’ like 
          yon bears doon the pit in the Zoological Gardens.  We can see naethin’ either tae the richt or 
          the left—naethin’ but the sky abin, an’ oor lives are terrified oot 
          o’ us.  The trains go scooting oot an’ scooting in 
          like rats rinning intae a hole.  In 
          fac’, sir, if I don’t get a chinge I’m going tae ask for a ‘rise,’ for 
          this’ll tak a guid few years aff my life.  
          But yon lichts is a great institution, sir, they quite enliven 
          ye.  I’m sure ye felt quite prood when ye cam’ tae 
          one?”
        “I did that,” 
          says I; “I thocht so much o’ them I wis wishing a’ the time there had 
          been hunners o’ them instead o’ dizzens.”
        “That’s what 
          a’ the passengers say, but we hivna ony lichts past this—frae this tae 
          Finnieston there’s nane.”
        “D’ye tell me 
          that?”
        “Aye, it’s a 
          fac’.”
        “An’ hoo’s that?”
        “Weel, ye see, 
          a’ the folk that writes tae the papers come oot here, so there’s nae 
          need’s giein’ lichts tae the Finnieston folk; it wid jist be throwing 
          awa’ money giein’ them lichts.”
        Betty an’ me 
          cam’ oot, BAILIE, an’ putting her intae a caur, I went up ootside, and, 
          lichtin’ my pipe, I thocht tae mysel’, “Happy Finnieston folk tae hae 
          a philosophical spirit under trying circumstances, wha widna imitate 
          you?” but I’ll hae nae mair o’ the Underground Railway till they treat 
          us decently and gie us lichts.