ON THE ROYAL VISIT TO THE EDINBURGH EXHIBITION A fortnicht since a deputation frae the Edinburgh Exhibition cam’ oot in the caur tae Stra’bungo tae see me. I wis hard at work in the yard when they appeared, weeing awa’ at the hunnerwechts, but I put on my coat, an’ we gaed in tae the hoose, where they explained that they were three o’ the Executive o’ the Exhibition wha had been sent through tae point oot that Stra’bungo wisna represented at a’, an’ that the coal trade had turned oot vera badly, an’ tae see if I wis agreeable tae tak’ a staun’ tae help them tae mak’ a show the next week, when the Queen wis tae be there. My patriotic spirit wis roused at this, an’ I said, “Gentlemen, coont on me. I never thocht on’t before, but noo that it’s brccht before me, I’m your man. So I went through the next day, and got a hand o’ jiners an’ penters, an’ superintended them a’ mysel’, an’ in three days I had a staun put up that wis the wonder and envy o’ the hale place. It wis a gran’ affair. Man, BAILIE, when I stood back a wee an’ looked at it, I wis dumbfoon’ered tae think that sich a thing had a’ come oot c’ my ain heid. On the tap I had a lion an’ a unicorn made o’ coal, staunin’ sideways, an’ haudin’ up a croon, also made o’ coal, then below that, “JEEMS KAYE, Sole Importer for the United Kingdom.” Below that again there was a Scotch thistle made o’ wudd, pented green, an’ a lot o’ turlie-wurlies twined roon aboot relieved the square look o’t. The front o’ the staun’ was rich in historical lore. There were pictures o’ “Coal digging in the Roman Empire,” “Peat cutting in the Heelans,” “Sinking for coal in the Nineteenth Century,” &c., &c. I had also a bundle o’ sticks tied thegither an’ labelled, “The coal o’ the early ages;“ a creelfu’ o’ peats labelled “The coal o’ oor gran’faithers;“ then a box fu’ o’ sawdust firelichters, an’ a gratefu’ o’ asbestos wi’ the gas burnin’ through it, an’ labelled, “Two specimens o’ spurious coal—baith humbugs;“ then a wee toy truck fu’ o’ lumps o’ coal, ticketed, “The rale Simon Pure-once used always used.” They’re a boon an’ a blessin’ tae a’ kin’s o’ men. For further particulars apply inside. So you see, BAILIE, it was a graun’ got-up staun’; in fac’, everybody said it wis one o’ the best—if no’ the vera best-in the hale Exhibition, an’ they were a’ gled it was up an’ in order before the Queen cam’. BAILIE, last Wednesday wis a great day for us exhibitors. While the common folk had tae pay lOs. 6d. tae win in tae see the Queen, we a’ saw her for naething in virtue o’ our position. I was forward in guid time, an’ there I stood in the inside o’ my staun, wi’ a bundle o’ tracts showing the different processes coal has tae go thro’ before it becomes the manufactured article fit tae be offered tae the public at seevenpence the hunnerwecht. I micht here remark, BAILIE, that it wis perfectly astonishing hoo ignorant the folk were aboot the common household coal. Some thocht it grew, an’ some thocht one thing an’ some anither, but the maist o’ them thccht it had aye been in existence. My pamphlets, hooever—written by mysel’—explained hoo it wis manufactured—first tree roots an’ ferns, then peats, and then the beautiful black diamond at—as I said befcre—seevenpence the hunnerwecht. I never let on I wis acquant wi’ the Queen, an’ so when we were waiting for her, I jist sat still an’ polished awa’ at my show blocks, an’ altered the tickets awee, so as no tae hae them on the same lumps every day. Efter a wee I got wearied an’ gaed awa’ in behin’ tae get a smoke, an’ as I smoked I meditated. By and by I heard a kin’ o’ hushed commotion, an’ as it cam nearer an’ nearer it stopped richt at my staun, an’ I hears a lady’s voice saying, “Surely I’ve seen that name before.” I laid by my pipe, BAILIE, an’ drawing doon my waistcoat I steps oot, an’ here was the Queen admiring a’ my place, so I made a bow, an’ putting my Haun on my hert I says— “Your Majesty—” “I was sure it would be you, Sir James,” says the Queen; “it’s quite refreshing to me to meet an old unaffected friend amidst all this bowing an’ scraping an’ artificial polish. I hope you find it profItable to have a stand here.” “Jist middling, mem, jist middling. It’s an awfu’ age for samples this. Every one asks for a sample o’ my coal, an’ I hae tae gie it rouwed up in silk paper, an’ when I say they micht gie me a wee bit order, they a’ plead they leeve ower faur awa’, an’ the carriage wid be high. Hooever, it’s no sae much for profit as for my country’s honour that I’m here. An’ hoo’s Henry, mem? Does he ever play on the concerteena we gied him? Mind, if ony o’ the keys breaks or onything, send it tae me an’ I’ll get it sorted, for the man in the Trongate we bocht it fae said he wid keep it up for a year. I don’t think Henry wis ever in Edinburgh afore, an’ it’s a gran’ city for sichts this.” Benny here cam’ ower tae me and says, “Goot day, Mr Kaye, you coal dealer, eh?” “Aye, Henry,” says I, “I’m prood o’ my trade; vera little can be done withoot coal. D’ye see thae fower magnificent locomotive engines, the brawest things in the Exhibition; withoot coal they’re no worth a button, they lie helpless; feed them wi’ coal an’ they’ll go at sixty miles an oor an’ draw tons upon tons behin’ them.” The Queen here whispered tae me that she had tae go through the usual ceremony o’ walking aboot an’ bowing, but if I wid tak’ Henry under my charge, an’ let him see aboot, she wid be gratefu’ tae me. So I took Henry intae my staun’ an’ gied him a ceegaur tae smoke while I put up the shutters an’ nailed up a ticket “Back in 5 minutes,” an’ then I locked the door, an’ awa we gaed arm in arm, an’ we got walking aboot in peace, for a’ the folk were rinning efter the Queen. Henry tell’t me he wis awfully snubbed by a’ the folk in England an’ Scotland, an’ that he wis thinking o’ turning a Home Ruler like auld Gladstone, an’ going ower tae Ireland tae try what like they were there. I said, “Everybody has their ain bubbly-jock, Henry, although nae doot it’s very hard tae bring ye awa’ frae yer ain country, faur frae kith an’ kindred, an’ then tae snub you; but bless ye, Henry,” says I, “they gie ye six thoosin’ a year, an’ that’ll mak’ up for a wheen snubs, but come awa’ till I let ye see some o’ the sichts o’ the Exhibition.” Then I took him roon an’ showed him the different things. I had a long interview wi’ the Queen afterwards, an’ she said I wis a by or’nar sensible man, and if at ony time I wantit a tide-waiter’s place, or onything o’ that sort, I had only to say the word. At nicht we saw the illuminations, but ye can read a’ aboot them in the papers, so I’ll say nae mair. I heard some talk o’ the Edinbro’ folk going tae confer the freedom o’ the toon on me, but of course I never let on, as my information wisna’ official. They’ve conferred it on waur folk mony a time.