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CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 279, 26 February 1881
44 1 am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” — Longfellow. There’s a hotelkeeper not very far off who is as fat and jolly as an old skipper—has been a skipper for aught I knew—and every time I go into his establishment I am forcibly reminded of the saloon of a Cunard liner. All his fixings have a “ship” sort of look about them, and there is ono room in partictlar in which I always feel myself, when I sit down, doing an inclination for’ard or aft, in expectation of the lurch of a vessel. There was a time when we didn’t have a a water supply in Ashburton, and our Fire Brigade was not the “golupsius” organisation it now is. This old skipper, in those prehistoric times, made arrangements of his own, so that when the fire came it would find him prepared. There were double force pumps rigged—lengths of hose innumerable coiled themselves up
everywhere, like snakes in hibernation — and from a low verandah at the back of the house hung some twenty or thirty buckets. Those buckets hang still, and they present the appearance of a thingumbob of a poop, with the name of the craft painted on each bucket. Then they hang low ; no ladders required to climb up to those buckets when you Hear the loud alarum bells. Brazen bells. What a tale of terror now Their turbulency tells. In the startled ear of night. How they scream out their affright ; Too much horrified to speak, They can only shdek, shriek. Out of tune ; In a clamorous appealing To the mercy of the fire Those buckets just hang clear and no more of a middle-sized man’s head, and if you have a hat on—well, if you don’t look uut, why you kick the bucket. Old Jimmy Ducks keeps the buckets half full of water to prevent shrinkage, and when I have told you all this you will be able to follow the yarn lam about to tell you, A burly resident in that hotel found it necessary, for reasons best known to himself, to come down stairs a night or two ago. Ho took his bedroom candle with him, and he wore his hat. Bashing oat at the back door, his hat caught one of the buckets aforesaid, his body caught a drenching, and his candle got extinguished. He bounced back to the verandah and indulged copiously in that refined English for which he is noted. Thinking he had been “had” from a window above, he addressed himself to the supposed practical joker, and working himself into a sublime passion—which ever rose above boiling point as the belief strengthened in his mind that the joker had gone—he vowed terrible vengeance, and breathed brimstone and sulphuric acid. After a calm he made another bounce off the vsrandah. This time he took another bucket and another drenching. His yells were fearful and his anger terrific. Out came the night porter with aympathj’’, a light, an explanation, and a grin. If you ever during the next fortnight go into that hotel be particularly careful to avoid all reference to the word bucket if you value your skin, for a man lives there who is ready to fight at the bare mention of the word. But the most wonderful thing of the whole yarn is, that those pressing reasons that induced the hurried rush out were completely forgotten in the sublime excess of feeling, and the drenched one retired again to his virtuous couch with his mission unfulfilled.
I paid for my dog this year. When I pay again—you tell me, just. I henceforth am an applicant for tho position of dog registrar at each annual appointment. Of course the yarn I am now to relate didn’t occur in Ashburton. I don’t want any one to be apprehended. The story is good enough for me, and the lesson it conveys is valuable. Along comes a policeman looking for collarless dogs. Along ’tother way comes a gentleman with a leather satchel ‘by his side, and a big black retriever at his heels, awfully like the ono John Carter made a rug of. Policeman stops the gentleman and wants to know if he has a collar for that dog. “ Oh, yes !” was the ready answer, “ here it is and he pulled out a quite new collar from the leather satchel. How many more collars he had beside I can’t say. But he was a dog registrar, and the keeneyed policeman was had.
Constable Smart is a very ’cute bobby. But a girl got him last week. He went up to her dwelling last week and enquired if she had a collar for the poodle that was enjoying the sunshine on the inside window sill. It was a good chance for the constable to get a smile, and it came most divinely, accompanied by an earnest assurance that the collar was there. The assurance and the smile were enough for the constable, and he went away perfectly satisfied. The same evening he heard a joke cracked at his expense, by a young spark, on the subject of this collar, which was a toy garter, beautifully got up, but a little too weak in the springs, and so relegated to the humbler duty of encircling Tray’s neck. The ’cute constable said nothing but waited his chance. It came right enough, and he paid another visit to the dog’s domicile when the swell was about. The swell claimed the dog of course. He couldn’t let Angelina be let in, and so a sacrifice to love and to a joke at the constable’s expense will soon be made in the R. M. Court.
It’s dangerous to keep dogs without a collar, and it’s a bad precedent to trust to officials. A mighty man in many ways had trusted to an edict of the Council being published, and so delayed the purchase of a collar. He was mistaken in his confidence. No edict was published, but a bobby published himself and his mission at the mighty man’s door, and took the bones of a paragraph for a Court • eport. It is in vain that the M.M. says the registrar wanted no prosecution just yet, and that the raid was too soon. I reckon he’ll pay—and the fine.
Those footpaths are an institution—and a grand one. Jim Bradley stowed his tar bucket in a certain lobby in East street one night last week. In the same lobby three loafers stowed themselves for the night. Groping in the dark, on all fours, for the softest plank, they upset the said tar bucket. They found it advisable to shift quarters because of the smell. As the story of the upset tar bucket got abroad next day the loafers found it advisable to clear out. The property man with a change of suit was not handy, and they did not care about walking through the town with the tar marks of “free quarters ” on their costume.
I picked a drunk out of the gutter shortly since. He wasn’t drunk, not he. He could walk on a chalked line with any man ; but he had been out driving with a celebrated Ashburton alderman, who would persist in using square wheels instead of round ones, and so the machine was upset, and the man that was not drunk was thrown out and seriously injured. That was why he couldn’t walk. Commend me to a skinful of liquor for arousing the imagination. Chista.
CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 279, 26 February 1881
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