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Anything one eats or imbibes with pleasure to the palate, followed by no unpleasant after sensations, should be taken for granted. It is courting discomfort to pry too curiously into its composition. Some forty years ago the ship Governor Endicott arrived at Salem, Massachusetts, from India ; and there landed several missionaries, who departed ; at once for Boston to report the arrival to the Missionary Board, leaving their belongings at the Lafayette Hotel. There' they attracted the attention of the cus- ' tom-house clerk, who, noting the presence of a cask, suspected an evasion of duty, and reported the matter to General Millar, the collector of customs. That official at once ordered baggage and cask to be sent to the custom-house for examination, and requested that the missionaries would give him a call as soon as they returned to Salem. The suspicious cask was taken into the customhouse yard, the bung knocked out, a proof-glass inserted to find out what kind of liquor was inside, in order to fix the v duty on it. They .all tasted—collector, ■ deputy-collector, naval officer, inspector, : clerk, and a tribe of hangers-on. They drank it neat, they drank it with water* with sugar, with biscuits, with cheese, but could not agree what kind of liquor it was. Bets were made, and-it was finally agreed to leave the knotty question to be decided by two absent inspectors—Capt. Bill L arid Capt. Steve R : —-. At last they came. They tasted. Capt. L said he would stake' his reputation that it was old London Dock brandy, vowing “he had not tasted such liquor since General Crowningshield launched Cleopatra’s barge in , 1818.” Captain • R declined “ to put a name to it”; he said it had a flavour different from any liquor with which he was acquainted. The next day the missionaries arrived at the custom-house to have their baggage passed, all save the cask oft liquor. “ That must pay duty,” said the General. “ Would they inform him what spirit the • cask contained?” The amused missionaries complied by telling him that when, they left India they brought with them a pet orang-outang, which dying after thirty day’s experience of sea life, had been put in a cask of rum for preservation—an explanation accounting for the peculiar flavour that had puzzled so many experienced tasters.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 79, 27 March 1880

Word Count

A RUM STORY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 79, 27 March 1880