AT THE CHANNEL FLEET OF coorse, BAILIE, we had to see the Channel Fleet. In fac’, we made up a pic-nic for the journey, the pairty bein’ Betty, an’ me, an’ the minister, an’ Mr Pinkerton. As we leisuiely daunered in at the gangway o’ the “Minotaur,” I says tae ane o’ the horse marines that wis walking back an’ forrit, “Is the admiral aboard?” “What name, sir?” “Oh, jist tell him it’s ane o’ the owners gi’en’ him a ca’.” That rather took the consait oot o’ the chap, so he says, “Would you give me your card?” So I put my haun in my waistcoat pocket, an’ took oot a card and handed it tae him. When he read it, “Lieut-Col. Sir James Kaye, K.O.B.,” man, BAILIE, it wis like magic. In an instant he put his gun up to his nose an saluted me. But I says, “Oh, I’m no’ the least angry, my man, you were only daein’ your duty.” “This way Sir James,” says he, an’ so we a’ followed him till we cam’ tae the admiral’s cabin, at the hin’ en’ o’ the ship. There we wwre ushered in, an’ the admiral, whenever he read the card, rins forrit an’ shakes hauns wi’ us a’, an’ asks us tae tak’ a gless o' wine. A blue curtain wis then drawn across the door, an' we made oorsel’s comfortable roon a wee stove. “How proud I am to meet you, Sir James,” says the Admiral. “The Queen wrote me you would likely call, an’ I wis to show you every attention. I hope you feel warm enough.” “Vera nice, thank ye.” “An’ you’re not in a draught?” “No, no; I’m first-rate, if I don’t get sea—sick.” “And is K.O.B. a new order? I don’t mind of ever seeing it before, Sir James.” “Oh, that wis jist mair to fill up the card, an’ no hae it bare like. There’s sae mony K.C.B.’s an’ L.S.D.’s an’ G.O.M.’s an’ sich like noo-a-days, that I thocht I wid like an order like the rest, an’ the minister picked that ane oot. Ye widna guess what it is, noo?” “Really, I’ve no idea.” “Guess.” “Oh, I couldn’t.” "Weel, I’ll tell ye what it is, ‘Kurious old buffer,’ but that’s between oorsel’s. Noo, I could tak’ anither gless o’ lemonade — it’s rale fine — it’s the best lemonade ever I tasted." "That’s Sparkling Moselle.” “D’ye really tell me that, Admiral? Sparkling Moselle, is't? Ay, ay, I thocht I kent the taste o’t. Fill up the minister’s gless. I hear ye get a’ your liquor free o’ duty. Man, I wish I could get mine that way. An’ noo we’ll tak’ a bit dauner roon’ an’ see the guns.” Then the Admiral took Betty under his arm, an’ the minister an’ me followed, an’ Mr Pinkerton brocht up the rear. As he gaed stumping aboot wi’ his wudden leg, the sailors wi’ the bare feet cleared a guid broad road for him, till he cam’ on ane that wisna lookin’, an’ if ye had heard the yowl. “Admiral,” says I, “what way hae ye thae sailor buddies rinning aboot wi’ their bare feet? It’s no respectable like. I'm sure the bad times disna affect you. The Englisli newspapers mak’ a great wark aboot seein’ the bairns in Scotland wi' their bare feet, but liere, in the ‘Minotaur,’ under the flag that braved a thoosan’ years, I see nearly every second man has neither shoes nor stockings. Hooever, what ye want in shoes ye mak’ up in spy-glesses. Ye maun ha’e an awfu’ lot o' them aboard. I’m sure ye can see ower tae Greenock withoot a spy-gless. We noo gaed doon a lot o’ stairs tae see the engines, an’ I whispers tae the Admiral, “Yon was my private card, but here’s my business ane. Ye’ll see I’m in the coal line— ’orders punctually executed.’ Could I no sen’ ye doon a waggon or twa before ye go, an’ as Mr Pinkerton is purveyor to H.R.H. o’ Battenberg, maybe ye could order a smoked ham or a Dunlop cheese frae him?” But the Admiral said he got a’ his things frae England. ‘Ay, ay,” says I, “Englan’ again, I’m sure ye micht gie us a bit turn when ye come here.” But I needna weary ye, BAILIE, wi’ a’ we saw. The band played a lot o’ Scotch tunes in oor honour, an’ we gaed in again an’ had anither gless o’ wine, an’ then Mr Pinkerton fell asleep an’ snored awfu’. Betty an’ the minister looked ower an album, an’ the Admiral an’ me drew oot a plan for the fortifications of the Clyde. The Admiral allooed I wis a man wi’ extraor’nar’ perspicuity — it’s rael pleasant, BAILIE, to meet wi’ a gentleman — indeed, we were maist agreeable. A box o’ ceegaurs an’ a bottle o’ the Moselle wis pit doon between us, an’ there we sat, drawing lines, and crosses, and parallelograms, as he ca’d them, an’ dividing an’ sub-dividing, an’ at last we had a perfect plan drawn oot. He bound me under secrecy no’ tae say where the fortifications were to be, till he took oot a patent for it, but I don’t think I’m breaking ony confidence — particularly when it wis me that tell’t him the hale thing — when I say that they’ve tae be inside o’ Ailsa Craig. Says the Admiral tae me, as he lichtit anither ceegaur— “You get the battery built just where you put that dot, Sir James, an’ I’ll mount a gun that’ll sweep the horizon from Campbeltown tae Cartsdyke Bay, and then, Sir James, oor fame will be so great that we’ll be buried in Westminster Abbey,” an’ he gies me a slap on the back jist as I wis takin’ a gless o’ the wine that made it go doon the wrang way. Hooever, I jist filled up anither, an’ him an’ me joined hauns an’ swore eternal freenship, an’ he promised tae come an’ stop a fortnight wi’ me next summer at Saltcoats, if it widna put me aboot. “And now,” says he, “come up and inspect the marines.” So up we gaed tae the hurricane deck, where the hale crew an’ the marines were drawn up, the one on the one side, an the ither on the ither. We walked leisurely doon between them, an’ at last I says: “Attention! eyes richt — the rear rank will advance fower paces backwards! So! when I say ‘Hoop la!’ every man’ll put his gun in ablow his oxter an keep it there! So! Vera well dune. Load noo; present an’ turn roon aboot so that ye’ll fire ootwards. Cannie na! Cannie till I see if there’s nae steamboats ootside. No ! the coast’s clear. F.I.R.E.!” The minister put his fingers in his ears, an’ Betty fented in the Admiral’s arms, but I stood unmoved, an’ as firm as if I wis adamant. Then I cries, “An’ noo I must see hoo ye march!” “But there’s no room to march on board ship,” says the Admiral. “Isna there,” says I, “we’ll sune see that. All hands clear the deck. Put a’ thae Pails an things tae the one side. Noo, men, ye'll begin at the hin’ en’, an’ march richt tae the bow, then doon the stairs, an’ back in the flat below, an' up the stairs here, an’ sae on roon aboot.“ I sune let them see whether they could march or no’. I had them going up an’ doon the stairs like yon white mice ye see in the bird shop windows, an’ the Admiral allooed it wis a plan he wid never hae thocht upon. “I’ll let ye see mair than that,” says I, an’ while the marines marched alang the one side o’ the deck tae the bow I made the sailor buddies march alang the ither side o’ the deck the hin’ en’ an’ doon the stairs an’ up at the bow, an’ it wid hae gone on fine, only they met in a dark place doon below an’ tae fecht. But ye see, BAILIE, that wisna my faut. So I cried, “Halt! All hauns on deck. Come up the hale lot o’ ye, sodgers an’ sailors — every man o’ ye come up at once before I read the Riot Act! Noo,” I says when they had come up, “weel done, noble fellows. It gives me great pleasure, as one o’ your owners, tae come an’ see the discipline, the order, the regularity, the cleanliness, the integrity, the — oh, I don’t know what a’ — that prevails on board. Fellow-comrades — for a'tho’ I am a cornel, still I’m jist mortal like yersel’s — in the name o’ the sister branch o’ the service — the Volunteers - I thank ye; an’ mair than that, I’m prood o’ ye. Aye keep heids cool an’ your feet warm — no, no, that’s no’ it; aye yer powder dry an’ yer throats moist, and there’s nae fear o’ ye. Farewell, brithers in arms; au revoir, Admiral.” As we cam’ awa’ the band played— “When ye gang awa, Jamie, Far across the sea, laddie.” It wis rale touching — there wis hardly a dry e’e in the hale boat. Indeed, the minister said that that wee bit simple tune had mair effect on the bronzed tars than if he had preached a sermon an ‘oor lang. An’ I weel believe it, BAILIE.