When Tom had gone I became dissatisfied with my work, and a disappointment which I suffered at being passed over in some office promotions increased that dissatisfaction. I was an expert shorthand writer and this seemed to be the only reason for keeping me back from better work, so at least I thought, and I think so still. My sense of injustice was touched; and I determined I would, like Tom, if the opportunity served, seek my fortune elsewhere. The chance I longed for came. I paid a short visit to Tom, and whilst in Glasgow, obtained the post of private clerk to the Stores Superintendent of the Caledonian Railway, and on the last day of the year 1872, I left the Midland Railway, to the service of which I had been as it were born, in which my father and uncles and cousins served, against the wish of my father, and to the surprise of my relatives. But I had reached man’s estate, and felt a pride in going my own way, and in seeking, unassisted, my fortune, whatever it might be.
What had I learned in my first five years of railway work? Not very much; the next few years were to be far more fruitful; but I had acquired some business habits; a practical acquaintance with shorthand, which was yet to stand me in good stead; some knowledge of rates and fares, their nature and composition, which was also to be useful to me in after life; some familiarity with the compilation of time-tables and the working of trains; but of practical knowledge of work at stations I was quite ignorant.
Thus equipped, without the parental blessing, with little money in my purse, with health somewhat improved but still delicate, I bade good-bye to Derby, light-hearted enough, and hopeful enough, and journeyed north to join my friend Tom, and to make my way as best I could in the commercial capital of “bonnie Scotland.”
Before entering upon any description of the new life that awaited me in Glasgow, I will briefly allude to the principal events connected with the Midland and with railways generally which took place during the first five years of my railway career.