Rough Scan




        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 
        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,
          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
          an’ a gratefu’ o’ asbestos wi’ the gas burnin’ through it, an’
          “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 
        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 
        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.