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Evening Post. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1881. MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCES.

Soms months ago we commented on the remarkable and unexplained disappearance of four miles of line from the official railway returns, the total length of railways open showing a diminution to that extent between the issue of two successive returns. So peculiar a circumstance as the sudden vanishing of four miles of working railway which had been officially proclaimed to be open— and which, at the average cost of construction, would represent at least .£25,000 of public money — might have seemed worthy of some explanation, but none has been vouchsafed to this day. And now we have two more mysterious disappearances, not of so many miles of line, for the total remains undiminished, but of two complete branches, which occupied a semewhat prominent, if unsatisfactory, position in the last but one official return, and are conspicuously absent from that hut issued. A country contemporary enquires anxiously what has become of these branch lines, and as it is good enough to refer somewhat pointedly to us for an explanation, we give the query in our contemporary's own words. The Manawatu Herald asks: — "Why have those two interesting South Island branch lines — the Shag P^int and Mount Somers— suddenly disappeared from the monthly railway returns ? It was always interesting to watch their appearance, as they usually showed a dead loss of 150 and 250 per cent, respectively upon receipts. Now we look in vain for them. Has the Hon. Richard Oliver discovered a ' standing reproach' in the Shag Point branch, and determined to close the line, or has he hidden it under the title of ' Dunedin section?' Then there is the Mount Somers branch. Perhaps this will be better understood if we call it Mr. E. G. Wright's line— he of the Bailway Commission — as it leads to his residence and property. During the half-year ending 18th {September, this branch was worked at a tremendous loss, as for every ponnd earned three pounds ten shillings was spent ! What has become of the line nowP Is it closed, or taken up, or has Mr. Wright become positively Ashamed of it and begged the Minister to 'lump' it also? A few months ago a contract was advertised to extend it, but whether tenders were accepted we know not. If they were, we snppose Mr. Outer -is Afraid to keep the line before the public, and has consequently dropped it from, the list.. If Jie has, where are. the returns published^

if at all? We want information, and we trust some of our contemporaries will afford it -to us. Perhaps the Etbning Post would not mind devoting a few lines to explaining what has become of the Shag Point and Mount Somers branches. We shall pause for areply." We shall have much pleasure in doing our best to eatisfy our contemporary's laudable curiosity, although we may remark that we have no means of official information which are not equally open to every other journal in- the Colony. We have no monopoly of official information, excepting such as may be conveyed through the fact of our being apparently among the very few papers which take the trouble to obtain the information by the simple method of making enquiries in the proper quarter. That is the "secret" of our " special information" on public matters: we do not mind taking some trouble to ascertain the truth, and if those of our contemporaries who grumble at any apparently exclusive information we may have will adopt the same plan and taka equal pains', may rest assured they will be equally"Bttccessful. We have found both the late and the present Governments eqaally ready and courteous in furnishing information on public matters when asked for it, and we had as much priority of intelligence with the one as the other. It is certainly not .incumbent on any Ministry to furnish intelligence unless requested to do^ so, and the whole Becret of our advanced information is that we take the trouble to seek it In the particular case now under notice we must confess that we felt the same curiosity as onr Foxton contemporary, not to know what had become of the two missing branches, for that was made clear by a very simple arithmetical process, but how and why they had thus disappeared, and we had already .instituted careful enquiries on the subject. We have said it was very easy to ascertain what had become of those branches, because as the Mount Somers branch was 11 miles long, and the Shag Point 2 miles, and the Christchurch and Oamaru sections show an increased mileage of 11 miles and 2 miles respectively since the branches disappeared, there is no difficulty in " putting this and that together." In plain terms, the Mount Somers branch has been absorbed into the Christchurch section, and the Shag Point into the Oamaru section. It is quite eaßy to see the main motive for this being done. The working expenses on both those branches were from 250 to 400 per cent, on the receipts, but as the total working exponses, as well aB the receipts, are exceedingly small, the addition of these to the Christchurch and Oamaru sectional accounts made no appreciable difference. For instance, taking one week at haphazard, the working expenses on the Shag Point branch only amounted in all to .£2O, whereas those of the Oamarn were JSBOOO. The addition of the .£2O to the latter made no appreciable difference to the percentage —an extremely minute decimal representing the increase —while it relieved the returns of the discreditable appearance afforded by lines with 250 and 400 per cent, working expenses. This then is plain enough. The real question is—What is the justification for treating these two branches differently from other unprofitable ones ? The respective explanations given are very dissimilar in the two cases. The Shag Point branch is now used, we are informed, almost exclusively as a coal siding. Its raison d'etre is to supply the main line with coal; it has none of the customary characteristics of.au ordinary branch, but is of a special nature, forming as much a portion of the main line system as the third line which runs alongside the "up" and "down" lines from Christchurch to Addington. The latter is a " relief" line, and the former is Bimply a coal-feeder. We have not yet the full figures, but we are assured that the Shag Point siding is really one of the most profitable bits of road in the whole Colony through the great facilities it offers for the supply of coal at a cost enormously cheaper than that at which it could be obtained elsewhere. For the carriage of the vast quantities of coal used on the 788 miles of the AmberleyKingston railway no credit is allowed to the Shag Point branch, and therefore it has never occupied the position in the returnß to which it is justly entitled. This can only be secured by treating it expressly as a coal siding off the main line, and this has now been done. Such is the explanation given in this case, and to our mind it is certainly satisfactory. Not so clear is the case in respect to the Mount Somers branch. So far as we understand the matter, it is alleged that the line has never been properly opened at all, but was included in the return of working railways by some mistake. No regular traffic is carried on or any time-table fixed. No doubt all this is quite" correct, and might warrant the withdrawal of the Mount Somers branch from the list of working railways. But thia has not been done. The 11 miles have simply been added to the main line of the Christchnrch section. This is so obviously calculated to convey a false impression that we do not see how it can be defended for a moment. If the Mount Somers branch is not open for traffic it ought not to appear among the working railways at all. But in that case, how comes it to have had working expenses paid out of the colonial revenues? If it has working expenses it must be a working railway, and if it is a working railway, it is just as much a regular branch line as the Eyreton, Waimate, Outram, Lawrence, or Eiverton branch, on each of which the expenditure is more than 100 per cent., and the returns of whioh are published separately in all their naked unprofitableness. Why Bhould the Mount Somers branch be treated differently ? If it is not open to the publio, why is it being worked at all, and for whose benefit? This is a point on which the pnblic have a right *to be satisfied. It will never do to concede tacitly the principle that an unjustifiable and unremunerative line may be constructed through political influence to suit one or two people, and then worked in a quasi-private manner for their behoof, the loss to the colony on the undertaking—relatively immense if small in actual amount —artfully conoealed by absorbing the accounts into those of the main line, with which it has no more to do than any other branch. We do not say that this i 3 the case in the instance under notice, bnfc theie is a sufficiently suspicions look about the matter to make it exceedingly undesirable that the present arrangement should be continued. We are well aware that it is not strictly fair to compare branch returns with those of a main line, because the former in every case bring traffic to the latter, which it would not otherwise get, and so increase its receipts; thus *>yen the worst branches are not absolutely so bad as they appear. What we contend for, however, is that, good or bad, all should be treated alike so far as their published accounts are concerned, so that the publio may see how well or ill their money has been invested, and may judge how far it is profitable to construct lines the working expenses of whioh swallow up four times the amount of the receipts. Such a moral was apparently conveyed by the Mo ant Somers Branch, and its-unacceptableness seems to us no adequate reason for the exceptional treatment of the peccant line. '

Mr. Whitelaw, the Superintendent of the Mount View Lunatic Asylum, has been temporarily "relieved of his duties" pending the conclusion of the enquiry now in progress. This is a very proper step, but, as we pointed out on Saturday, ought to have been taken at the very outset of the investigation. It appears to us also, that in view of the evidence given before the Commission Miss Brigdon should be "relieved of her duties" as well -as the Superintendent until the enquiry has terminated. We understand that a large amount of testimony will be adduced for the defence, and that the complainant then will bring forward rebutting evidence. It is understood that a return prepared in reference to the unprofitable telegraph stations shows that the tax of sixpence extra, imposed on the non-paying stations, has proved so far productive that the Government would not feel justified, under the present circumstances of the colony, in abolishing the extra charge. There will be a sitting of tho Supreme Court in Bankruptcy to-morrow at noon, when the following debtors will seek to obtain their discharge; — John M'lntosh, Lower Hutt; William Sherwood Baine, Wellington; Henry Neilaon, Wellington; William James Bidler, Petoni. - Mr. W. H. Hales, who held the position of Resident Engineer in Wellington, proceeded to Auckland in the steamer Tararua on Saturday night, to take over the duties of Engineer in the Auckland District. About a dozen men are engaged in laying down the tramway rails between Cambridge Terrace and Cuba-street, and the line has now been made as far as Tory-street. Yet another complaint of bread being light in weight! The police or the Inspector of Weights and Measures ought really to give this matter instant attention. A correspondent writing to us, under the signature of Ptre defamttle" says: —" My attention has recently been directed to the light weight of the bread supplied at my house by a baker whose place of business is not 100 miles north of the Morgue. My object in troubling you with thia communication is to know whether there exist any means, fair or otherwise, by which the baker referred to can be induced to make his loaves 21b instead of ljlb, as he prefers doing at present. I am desirous that tbis man of flour should know that I have no objection to the bread itself being light provided that when ' weighed in the balance it is not found wanting.'" Remaining in the Mount View Lunatic Asylum on SaturdayJast were 148 patients — 73 males and 60 females. During the past week 6 males and 3 females received admission into the Hospital, while 5 males and 2 females were discharged. The total number of patients at present in the Hospital comprises 45 males and 15 female*.. -.. •_ :~ * . •". .

A meeting of the creditors of William Black, of Wellington, coachbnilder, was held in the Supreme Court Honse at 11 o'clock this morning 1 , to further consider a proposal of the Colonial Bank to purchase the estate. At a previous meeting Mr. Christie, manager of the Colonial Bank, offered to take over the estate at 4s in the JL^ providing the proved debts did not amount to upwards of i 5225, the amount proved then being .£175. Now, however, the claims represented a total of £310, and the bank declined to give 4j in the £ on this sum. It was resolved that the creditors should accept the offer first made by the bank of .£45, which will amount to about 3s in the £, on the understanding that the money is paid within the week. Mr. Withington desires to acknowledge the receipt of £85 3g, being the amount of the fund raised at the Evjcning Post offioe for his benefit. He also desires to thank the committee and treasurer for the trouble they have taken on his behalf. An unusual case occupied the attention of Mr. M'Cnlloch, -B.M. at lnvercargill, last week. Three young gentlemen bachelorising in town, obtained from a local tradesman a piano on the deferred payment Byßtem. Shortly afterwards one of the number got into difficulties, andmaking the acquaintance of his " uncle," obtained an advance-of J635, giving as security, inter alia, the aforesaid piano. On his departure for another coiony, his erßtwhile companions returned the piano to its original owner, against whom the accommodating relative of the_ departed one brought an action to recover it. According to the Southland Times, Mr. M'Culloch ruled that the negotiator of the loan had no right to pawn the piano. A case presenting some unusual circumstances was heard in the Melbourne County Court recently. A diminutive creature, named Dominiok Sonsee, who has been exhibiting himself as a dwarf, appeared as the plaintiff, and Mr. Thomas Bently, a publican at Castlemaine, as the defendant. The plaintiff (says the Age) is thirty years of age, and is only two feet in height. He was engaged by the defendant to act as an attraction at his hotel. The terms were not to the advantage of the dwarf, but it appeared that he regarded the defendant then as a friend, and signed an agreement with him. Subsequently Mr. Isaac Solomons, proprietor of an exhibition and panorama in the Eastern Arcade, secured the plaintiff's service at a salary of £2 10s per week, which was subsequently increased. In accordance with the agreement, the plaintiff for some time past gave his money to the defendant to take care of, but a rupture occurred in their friendly relations, and the defendant now Bued for a ftun of .£ls, which Solomon paid to Bently for six weeks' wages* on account of the dwarf. His Honor Jndge Cope considered the evidence so conflicting that he directed the case to be tried before a jury at the March sittings of the Court. The tram rails along Willis-street are beginning to cause trouble among wheeled vehicles. A few evenings ago a wheel of the Salvage Corps van caught in the groove of the tram rail, and was completely smashed. This afternoon the express of Mr. T. Carter was disabled in like manner. The wheel caught in the rail near the corner of Willis and Manners-streets, and the spokes were wrenched out of the nave. The very long period of dry weather which we have lately experienced was interrupted yesterday by a heavy fall of rain, which should do good service in replenishing the reservoir and flushing the drains. The rain was accompanied by a strong southerly gale. At St. Peter's Church yesterday Mr. Angelo Forreßt presided at the organ for the last time, prior to his departure for Auckland. His voluntaries were as follow : — Andante (Sonata op. 42) Schubert ; Nocturne (op. 34) Spohr ; Fugue in G major (No. 8) Forrest; Andante (symphony in C minor) Beethoven; Andante in G, Batiste; Fugue in tf minor, Bach. All were magnificently played and much appreciated. Mr. S. Cobham, surveyor, an old settler, died at his daughter's residence, Kaiwarra, on Friday last, at the advanced age of 81 years. Mr. Cobham came to Wellington about 26 years ago, and during that time followed various occupations He was at one time Clerk of the Resident Magistrate's Court. The deceased gentleman had been very infirm for some years past, and his death was not unexpected. The s. s. Huia was again prevented from proceeding on her excursion trip to Terawhiti yesterday, the weather being such as to frighten nearly all the intending excursionists. About a dozen persons had the hardihood to go down to the steamer and wait there in the rain about an hour and a half, but as this number waff not a sufficient inducement to the owners the trip was abandoned. "Mr. Angelo Forrest's farewell pianoforte recital takes place at the Athenseum Hall this evening. Mr. Forrest leaves for Auckland on Friday by the Te Anau. Donations of literature, rabbits, and fish, are acknowledged by the hospital authorities' from Mrs. Volbracht, " a Lady," and Messrs. J. T. Steele, J. Kelly, and F. Liardet. The 24 hours go-as-you-please match between Croft and Smith at the Arcade on Saturday resulted in favor of the champion, who at 10 p.m. had sneceeded in covering 119 miles minus three laps (of which 22 went to the mile), while Smith had to withdraw from the contest at 9 p.m., with 103 miles to his credit, inclusive of the 10 miles allowed him. Croft's concluding mile was covered in eight minutes. By advertisement in another column, Mr. .Rowley, hairdresser, of Willis-street, announces that he has secured the premises adjoining his old shop, and thrown the whole into one, forming a large and elegantly- I fitted hairdressing saloon, in which his customers will find all the conveniences of a London establishment. The Hon. E. Campbell and a few other gentlemen have issued the prospectus of a company, with a capital of <£4(J0O, for the purpose of fitting up a vessel to take Home 4000 sheep in a frozen condition from Oamaru. Half the capital is to be paid up in cash, and the remainder in sheep. It is stated that the promoters have received favorable telegrams from Home with regard to the prospects of the meat trade. Everyone must wish Mr. Campbell and his associates every success in their spirited venture. Ifc only needs someone to lead the way, and the ice one broken, we are satisfied that the trade will be rapidly developed. A telegram in another column gives the latest information on the subject. The Wellington correspondent of a Southern paper telegraphs ii — *' I hear from a most reliable source that a substantial clue has been obtained to the manner in which the gold was stolen from the Tararua, and as to the identity sf the persons implicated. The clue might have been obtained long ago, but for the red-tapeism which exists in connect tion with communications between different branches of the Government Service. From certain facts which have come to my knowledge, I am convinced that if one Government department had communicated to the police certain information which it had in its possession^ -the robbery would have been explained long ago, and the perpetrators probably arrested: The detectives are engaged following up the clue." There are three female barbers doing business in San Francisco. On this subject. "Silver Pen," a correspondent of the New Zealand Herald says :—": — " In an interview I had some time ago with the first feminine shaver who ever set up in the town, she informed me that east the business is a regularly profitable one. I believe she is a first rate hand herself, but she says the trouble is women won't ' stick to their trade.' They shave until they fall in love with someone, and then they throw it up. However, I don't see why it should not be encouraged, as there, are too many girls unemployed, and it would, at any rate keep them out of mischief, i.e., if anything has such a power over feeble women." The proposal of the Wellington Naval Brigade to go to th? Cape to assist the Colonial Government in the war against the Boers does not meet with the approval of the Wanganui Chronicle, which uses some very strong language on the subject. Our contemporary says : — " When we hear of a large proportion of the Naval Brigades of Wellington and the Thames coolly talking of taking ship and going to fight the Boers we scarcely know which to admire moat — their folly or their impudence. Almost all these are young men in regular employment, earning fair wages, and with the certainty of doing well in New Zealand if they continue sober and industrious. They have family and social ties, which might naturally be expected to bind them to residence in this part of the world, and yet we find them anxious to be off to a country where the climate is execrable, where the openings for peaceful industry are not nearly so wide at the best of times as they are here, and where even the pleasurable excitement of ' potting ' Boers cannot at the utmost be expected to last more than a few weeks." After further remarking that it had no idea there were "so many bloodthirsty idiots in New Zealand," the Chronicle adds :—": — " To those misguided individuals who really think that their destiny leads them to the Transvaal, and are seriously thinking of packing their kits for the voyage, we would tender the suggestion that the occasion 13 one on which they should resist their destiny as strenuously as it is to be hoped they would the arch-enemy. They have no business in the Transvaal. Shooting people is not their legitimate calling, and the training they hare received in New Zealand was not given in order that they might be fitted to roam the world as knights- errant." Far- better stop at home and look after the shop or the cows, and grow wealthy and fat and wise, and leave the Boers and the British Government te fight it oat between them." '

In an article on " The Native Question in New Zealand," the Australasian Bays : — " The resignation of Mr. Bryce of the post of Native Minister in Mr. Hall's Government is a mistake and a misfortune. It is a mistake because there are no apparent reasons for holding that the policy Mr. Bryce recommended his colleagues to adopt was so essential to the well-being of the colony thai its rejection necessarily involved his resignation. And it is a misfortune because, over and above the loss of a colleague whose firm and judicious action has contributed so ¦much to the pacific settlement of the West Coast difficulty, the incident inevitably tends to weaken the position of the Government with regard to two enemies with whom it has to deal, the natives, under the influenoe of the Maori prophet To Whiti, and the Opposition, which has lately shown its readiness to make political capital out of the native difficulty, even at the cost of excitement that might easily end in war." An important sale of the furniture of a gentleman leaving for England is announced to be held to-morrow, at his residence, Murphy-street, by Messrs. T. Kennedy Macdonald A Co. Particulars appear in another column.

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Bibliographic details

Evening Post. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28,1881. MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCES., Evening Post, Volume XXI, Issue 48, 28 February 1881

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Evening Post. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28,1881. MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCES. Evening Post, Volume XXI, Issue 48, 28 February 1881

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