“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow. (From Ashburton Herald, May 17.)
There is not in Ashburton at this moment nine men more supremely happy than are the Town Councillors of this young borough. From the Mayor down to the humblest member of the municipal staff, each unit of the municipal whole tvears a benign smile upon his countenance, and none smile more benignly than my friend Mr. St. Hill. The reason for this general joy is apparent when one reads the annual balance-sheet of the borough, and the speeches made when the Councillors considered it. Not for many a day has the Council been so well in funds, and the satisfaction of men who are able to pay their way and be respected, sits upon the countenance of each. It isn’t a nice feeling to have —to know that your bank balance has got over to the “ other side,” and that your banker wants an interview. You feel as if it would be as well for a rich uncle or aunt just then to “ slip hold ” of life and wealth at once, and by the double event leave you in mourning, but in funds. There is no rich unde of the borough gone to the majority, but she has been able to realise an old debt that was due by Government —when she was in partnership with the Wakanui and Longbeach Road Boards — and the realisation has given just the glow that goes through a man when he finds paid to him a bill he had long ago written off as a bad debt. That's what’s the matter with the Borough, and to bring about this happy state of affairs the Mayor has been continually on the watch, looking up the two Boards and seeing to the account squaring. My friend Mr. St. Hill feels as if it were worth while being a Councillor now, and there is a heartier crack in his joke and a merrier twinkle in his spectacles, and he feels so confident of what is to be done in the future that he has advised me to buy boots without hob-nails, as the boulders are to disappear from the footpaths.
I don’t know if it matters a very great deal to a man, after he has, by becoming a corpse, made his title clear to the customary freehold of six by two, whether a parson or anyone else reads a burial service over him —I don’t think it does. But it matters a little to those whom he leaves behind. I notice that a poor fellow, a laborer named Deacon, who was run over by a railway train at a place called Waihola, somewhere down South, was immediately after the inquest “buried in a newly dug hole, without rite or cere-
mony.” The paper from which I quote adds —“ The recipient of this dog’s funeral had been several years in the colony, but had no relatives. Hard lines for a Deacon ! Where was the clergyman 1 Surely a mangled corpse might have been forgiven the audacity of stopping a goods train.”
That Library scare was quite interesting, and I was very much surprised to see what a crowd of the leading men of Ashburton could be brought together of an evening when the question of the Library’s future was to be considered. There is one thing must be said for Mr. Purnell—he is plucky, and having a grievance he is not afraid to air it. His airing of his grievance has had the effect of getting the Library waggon back on to the rails again, and there is some hope that progress will be made. An attack has already been made on the County Council fur funds, by Mr. Ward, and doubtless the County will shell out, seeing that Mr. Bullock promised them that any money given would be devoted wholly to the purchase of books.
Some days ago I heard a laboring man beseech a borough official for work, urging his petition with a statement that for nine weeks he had not earned a penny, and that now something would have to be done, if he and his family were to get a “bit o’ food.” The official said he had no work to offer, and would have none, unless the Borough Council wanted some stone-chipping done. I don’t know that the Council do, but some of the footpaths do —badly ; and the macadamising of some of the petrified turnips that pave our ways would materially improve walking.
On some of our wayside railway stations the officials must be lonely and dull indeed, and the arrival of a parcel addressed to any one of them must be an event. I heard recently of how life at one of these stations was made lively, by the receipt of a very peculiar parcel. It is customery for officials at these stations to receive parcels addressed to themselves free, and if they didn’t there would sometimes be a scarcity of eatables, for it would be an awful handicap to have to pay rail charges on every loaf of bread that was run along the line to them. This lively parcel I speak of, however, was not a loaf of bread. It was very neatly done up indeed, and when opened by the fair lady to whom it was addressed—the wife of an officialout came a packing of tussock, and out of that a full set of teeth ! “ Thirty-two of them, by thunder!” But those teeth were not made by a dentist. They were made by nature, and were intended by that artist for the use of a horse. The sender must have come into possession of them by heirship to the quadruped. By whatever means he came into possession matters not —lie sent them to the lady. Had they been the work of a dentist, and made to a measurement of the lady’s pretty mouth they would have been acceptable, no doubt. But then they weren’t. She knows the donor, and 1 would advise him to make tracks for Fiji, for from what I hear his life is forfeited. Chispa.
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