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CHTSPA’S LETTER, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 143, 24 August 1880
T am riot yet so bald that you can see my brains.” —Longfellow. (From Ashburton Herald, August ai.) Not a bad yarn was thrown" at my head this week. Bill Jones (Jones is so common a name, you know) gets very drunk, and very often—in plainer language, he is a sot. " Besides that, he is a farmer, and, most wonderful of all, he has been able to live through all these hard times of poor crops and poorer prices without going-through the Court. He got word recently that a relative had just died, and it would be advisable for Bill to come to the place where the decease had occurred (some miles away) and remove the body for decent interment in the buryingground near his place. Bill did not get the news in writing but by word of mouth from a crony. Had Bill been less of a lushington, ho would have been less liable to get taken in. He harnessed the mare to the old Whitechapel cart, took a “ deep, deep draught” inside, a deeper one in his coat pocket for use on the way, and set off. He was well obfuscated when he arrived, too much so to speak. He staggered into the house of his friend, which showed no signs of mourning, but everybody was away except a hired lad of about fifteen years, who opened the door for him. The lad was “struck up” at the sight of the bloated face'that he scarcely knew what to do. However, he showed Bill the way to the big kitchen. There Bill saw the corpse of his relative stretched out on the big table, and decently covered with a clean white sheet. The situation was overpowering. Bill blundered up to it, took it in his great arms, and staggered out to the cart with it, the boy steering behind the while. Bill was much grieved at the death of his friend, much more so that the corpse should have been allowed to lie uncoffined and alone in that kitchen ; but he was stout-hearted and; independent. He homeward went his weary way, keeping his courage up with brandy as he went. Gradually the mare dropped down to a walk, and Bill dropped asleep. The mare stopped at a well-known pub., but still Bill slept. The landlord hailed him in a sentence in which “ whisky” occurred. Bill is always ready to anwer that word of command. After wetting his inward clay, and weeping a few briny tears over the death of his refative, he told the somewhat beery landlord of the sad burden he bore in the cart. They went out to look, and together mourn. The landlord lifted the cover from the corpse, and in the grey dusk tried to “ peer into the dead man’s eye.” Then he put his hand upon the dead face. “Why,” he said, “he’s warm.” “Warm,” suddenly replied the corpse, “ if you’d been as long where Tre been down below, you’d be warm too.” Bill and the landlord, with hair on end, plunged into the pub., and the “ corpse” mizzled. Don’t, if you meet Bill, ever ask him about his relative, nor about the dead pig ho carried so many miles under a “wrong* impression,” nor about the neighbor who stole the pig, and sent it back to its owner, taking its place for the time as a living corpse. If you make mention of either of these characters in this yarn, hold yourself in readiness to fight.
For doing smart things, commend me to gentlemen of the cloth. You editorial people try to be smart sometimes, but you can’t come within “ cobey ” of the clergy folk. And they go about it so innocently, you know. A chum of mine, on devotion bent, attended a place of worship last Sabbath, situate—well, not 100 miles from the Cathedral City. After listening to what he termed a “spanking sermon,” a string of notices were given out by the presiding minister, amongst which was that of a lecture, which was announced to come of on the following Tuesday. After briefly commenting on the coming event, this knowing parson intimated that it would not be advertised; in the local papers, as it was not considered necessary; “but,” added he, “if those present will but tell those who are absent, it will get well known.” In point of fact, every worshipper present on that occasion was' to be a cheap advertising medium, and as the church in question is one which I understand is numerously attended every Sunday, it may fairly be inferred that two-thirds of the inhabitants of the locality would get to know of the anticipated‘lecture, that is, supposing every devout worshipper fell in with the wishes of ■ his spiritual, guide. Smart business man ‘that Clergyman. E vidently mistaken his vocation. It has not, however, come to my knowledge whether the attendance at the lecture was satisfactory to the gentleman who gave his services, or to the promoters.
When my friend told me the above story it brought to my mind a reminiscence of the early days of the colony. In one of the northern townships there resided, and still resides, to the best of my belief, an individual who was notorious for both the wealth he possessed and the leech-like manner in which it clung to his pockets. In fact, it was as easy to extract a “tanner”' from him for any purpose, charitable or otherwise, as it would be to draw the proverbial blood from the proverbial stone, or to take the proverbial “ breeks ” off the proverbial Highlander. This gentleman had a holy horror of advertising if it entailed any loss of his “ bawbees,” but sometimes he did a little gratis advertising in a peculiar way of his own. On one occasion Olosefist lost a pair of gold-mounted spectacles, and how to let the numerous population of a sea-port town know' of his loss, and interest them in the search for the recovery of the gold rims ivas a question that greatly exercised his mind. But men of the Closefist stamp are not long in hitting on a plan to attain their ends. This northern Croesus
obtained a bit of cardboard 12ins. x 12ins., and stencilled on it the words denoting his loss. Slinging this placard over his neck, by means of a piece of twine attached to either end, Closefist paraded the streets as usual, and in addition to his numerous acquaintances who clustered around him on ’Change, he also had the warmest sympathy of a crowd of ragged urchins, whose interest in him was so warm, that they formed quite a body guard for him during the greater part of the day, when the presence of these youngstersbecame so unbearable that Closefist had to take refuge in the nearest hotel. Discarding his card-board he fled to the office of the evening paper, and putting down sixpence, asked for an “ ad.” to be inserted in the twenty-words-for-sixpence column. Closefist appeared on ’Change next day with his usual nasal adornment. Chispa.
CHTSPA’S LETTER, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 143, 24 August 1880
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