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AN AMAZING HOAX.

I „ PLAYING AT ABYSSINIAN PRINCES. MASQUERADE ON THE DREADNOUGH \ COSTLY AFTERNOON'S AMUSEMENT. * LONDON, February 12. Five young men and one- young woman, all of them extremely well connected, and all of them well-to-do, have perpetrated a most amazing and somewhat reprehensible, practical joke on the Admiralty, the British Navy, and H.M.S. Dreadnought in particular. it is a ,'oke of such colossal proportions, anl so audacious — Theodore Hook, that master of practical jokers, might himself have been proud of it — that it is a little hard to put it in a nutshell. Briefly, however, it may be said that on Monday last three of the young men and the girl, fully disguised as Abyssinian princes, travelled down to Portland, and w-ero there received with princely honors on board the flagship. The two other young men played the parts respectively of attache to the Foreign Office and interpreter. From start to finish they were forty minutes on board H.M.S. Dreadnought, and from the point of view of the perpetrators of the joke, the escapade was entirely successful. In fact, on the following day, the, battleship in question put to sea without one single officer or man on board being aware of the manner in which they had been hoaxed. PERTINENT ENQUIRIES. That the matter could have remained a secret for ever was, of course, impossiblo, as the practical jokers used certain means of carrying through their jest which caused instant enquiry on the part of tlie Foreign Office. These enquiries woro so pertinent that- the majority of the young men sought seclusion, but one of them, bolder than the rest, had remained in London to toll the tale. Monday's adventure had been brewing for some time, but the exact lines upon which the joko was to be worked were not mapped out till about a fortnight ago. Then the commander-in-chief of the enterprise hied himself to an entirely innocent and unsuspecting costumier of world-wide renown, and requested him to furnish make-up for four Abyssinian princes. Expense appeared to have been of no account, and the ringleader actually took to the costumier books showing exactly what the princes should wear. Of course, they could have been fitted on in rough-and-ready fashion at an instant's notice, but this was not in the least the idea *of this latest follower of "Captain Koepenick." Ho demanded accuracy of detail, and so some days had to be spent in procuring a rigidly correct make-up. Indeed, so reckless was he as to what the adventure might cost that he one day rushed^ out of the shop, declaring that mock jewels were of no value, and returned half an hour later with £500 worth or so of precious stones purchased from a neighboring jeweller. WONDERFUL MAKE-UP. The make-up when complete^ was certainly striking. The three young men and the young woman all had their hair cut short, and were fitted with black woolly mats which completely covered their skulls. They were all provided with short, crisp, curly black beards and the most complete sets of nigger lips. Their faces, arms, and hands were dyed to the proper hue. They wore turbans and flowing robes. Round the neck of each, suspended by a gold chain, was an Early Christian cross. Their persons fairly glittered with costly jewels. But even in this "make-up" the humor of the instigator ,of the plot struck a dominant note. The Abyssinian princes were all furnished with enormous long-pointed, elastic-sided patentleather boots. The princes were indeed a glorious sight. The man who was to pass as v the interpreter — supposedly a German — looked his part. The dress of the Foreign Office attache was., of course, an easy matter to furnish. On the day selected for the raid on Portland all the conspirators were so anxious that their appearances should , present no blemish that they arrived a^ tie oosffcutnier's at six o'clock in ikg morning, ana were not satisfied with their Abyssinian toilets until after noon had struck. Then, unfortunately, they allowed their determination and the exuberance of their spirits slightly to outrun their judgment, and the following telegram was despatched to the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Flee* at Portland :-— "Prince Mftkalin and suite, will arrive at Weymouth at 4.20. Kindly make aH arrangements to receive them." SPLENDID' RECEPTION. This telegram, it must regretfully be said, bore the name of a high official whose lightest wishes were likely to be received with respect. And so it was that the ".princely" visitors were received on board the flagship, and marines presented arms as "Prince Makalin" and his gorgeous suite stepped over the side. . Jlere it may be mentioned ' that all I the "pri nce s" bore namesj which had been s "^cially invented for the occasion on the i^umey down from town; the name chosen" ioT ihe lad ? waS <<I>rince Mendax." , , J . Still, no one sus^ ecte{l even the men " 1 aacious Mendax. . „ v , „ With characteristic Apspitenty, ** officers of the battleshi *> s ?°™ * heU utmost to shower honors V nd f tfntlot f ntlo . n! on their guests. There was m^f^* ly no Abyssinian flag on boaru * r ' ' a makeshift, the flag of Zaniba. i^ ' ,hoisted Ifco the mainmast. Unlueu \. too, the National Anthem of Abyssin. could not be discovered among the music. Again Zanzibar was brought to the rescue, and the Nationalal Anthem of that State was rendered quite efficiently, considering the short notice the band had received. SHOWN EVERYTHING. The attache from the Foreign Office was charming, and his explanations were complete. He told what pleasure it would give the "princes" to see over the warship, and informed one of the officers that the "princes" were on a visit to England in order to make arrangements for sending their sons and nephews to school at Eton. So the "princes" were shown everything — the wireless, the guns, and the torpedoes, and, at every fresh sight they murmured in chorus, "Bunga, bunga," which, being interpreted, means "Isn't it lovely." That is to say, three of the "princes" did, but the i"6urth "prince," being afraid to reveal her naturally treble voice, assumed a cold, and murmured, "Chuck-a-choi, chuck-a-choi,"

I by which she intended to convey he; I great- appreciation of her surroundings. After the inspection of the ship i grave peril for a few moments confront ed the conspirators. They were askec to take tea, but this was not to b< though of, as it would certainly hav< ended in the "princes' " false lips becoming detached. "Prince Malakin/' apparently overcome by the hospitality which has been shown him, desired tc present an officer with the Grand Cross of Abyssinia. The officer regretfully explained that he could not receive the Order. No one apparently stopped to ask whether there were Grand Crosses in Abyssinia. Then the "princes" left. They were delighted, and the officers were delighted, too. It was altogether a most pleasant afternoon.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/HNS19100408.2.5

Bibliographic details

Hawera & Normanby Star, Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LVII, Issue LVII, 8 April 1910

Word Count
1,146

AN AMAZING HOAX. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LVII, Issue LVII, 8 April 1910

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