AT THE COAST IT‘S an awfu’ business this gaun “doon the watter.” I often wonder wha began’t. In my young days my respectit faither an’ mither, aifter an unco shaking o’ heids an’ looking at the bank-book, managed tae get a fortnicht in a but-an’-ben at Goorock, where they drank unlimited quantites o’ saut water, an wore oot a’ their auld claes. Noo its different. Every weel-regulated family must hae at least a month, an’ a hale cottage tae themsel’s; wi’ special suits, an’ bonnets, an’ cloaks for the occasion. Tae me that likes my ain fireside it’s trying. As I read the paragraphs aboot the boats bein’ overhauled, an’ pented, an’ papered, an’ them trying the engines, an’ pittin’ in new bilers, I get uneasy, an’ foresee a sad time comin’. Then there appears in the papers, “Sandbank, tae let, a room an’ kitchen, wi’ 5 beds, for June,” or “Family residence on shore at Skelmorlie, two apartments, an’ use o’ kitchen,” an’ next I heer Betty and the bairns arge-barglin’ aboot what’s the best place, some thinkin’ Garelochhead, an’ ithers advocatin’ the Lergs. I read awa’ at the papers an’ never let on I hear them, although my mind’s gey an’ troubled a’ the time, an’ I hardly ken what I’m readin’. Hooever, BAILIE, I’ve been lang enough married noo tae ken I’m aye oot-voted on a question like this-I stan’ alane—one vote—Betty an’ the bairns faur oot-number me, so I jist gie in at once an’ be done wi’t. Indeed, it’s like takin’ physic, the less ye palaver the better. Man, at first it’s no sae bad doon the water either. Efter ye arrive, ye lee Betty an’ the aulder anes in the hoose, coontin’ the packages tae see if they’re a’ there, ane rinnin’ oot, tae get a quarter a pun’ o’ smoked ham an’ a cutting loaf, while you an’ twa-three o’ the wee-est anes gang doon tae the shore, an’ pouter aboot amang the chuckies lookin’ for partans. A’ the time there’s a taste o’ the saut water floating aboot, that mak’s you, like the wild asses ye read o’ in the Auld Testament, “snuff up the win’ afar.” D’ye ken, BAILIE, it’s a vera natural expression that, ye’ll notice the mules in the tramway caurs daein’t every noo an’ then. Whin nicht comes on, hooever, it’s no sae nice. There’s aye a terrible wark ower the beds. Ane o’ the maist tryin’ an’ difficult jobs that fa’ tae my lot is tae get three weans tae lie on two chairs an’ a sofa, wi’ a short supply o’ blankets, an’ them fechtin’ for wha’s tae get at the back! But at lang an’ last they’re stowed awa’ someway, and then ye licht yer pipe and compose yersel’ for a read. Unfortunately, the lodgin’ hoose libraries are aye sma’. Ye kin generally reckon on “Boston’s Fourfold State,” “Wanderings among the Tombs,” an’ auld coont book, or maybe a moth-eaten “Juvenile Reader,” an’ this is no the thing tae recommend itsel’ tae yer min’ when ye’re oot for pleasure. But, BAILIE, the next mornin’ dings a’. Ye’re no hauf sleepit, whin up ye jump in despair for fear ye should be late, an’ rin tae the steamer, gettin’ ahint the funnel for a smoke, an’ pittin’ on the boldest face ye can sp that ye may look as if ye were enjoyin’ yersel’. I pass ower, BAILIE, the rush up the pier, an’ the hurl tae the city in a railway compartment, wi’ six on baith sides an the twa windows closed. This inspirin’ mornin’ performance, hooever, goes on, day by day, every day, for four weeks.