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The Contributor., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 30 March 1907
DENIS DISCOURSES* . Dear Mr Editor, —I'd not like to be in your place for a fortune, so I .Tvu'dn’t, for it musht 'be a terrible responsibility to be at the bead av a newspaper. If editors only knew how paple read what they say or allow to be printed, they’d die av nervousness, or some other fatal disorder, an’ by the way av showin’ that it’s not jokin’ I am I’ll till ye what happened to mesilf the other night. Afther tea 1 picked up the evenin’s paper, an’ read a letther by somewan callin’ himsilf Me akin, an’ this was the burden av his epistle : —‘Sir, —Kindly allow me a little space in your columns to ventilate an injustice. I understand that it is the intention of the gaol authorities to utilise the prison grounds—some nine «r ten acres —as a market garden, the produce of which will be distributed through the town and enter into competition .with the present purveyors of garden produce.. Now, we market gardeners do not live a life of ease and pleasure. We toil early and late, summer and winter, and, for our reward, make a living, and that is about a d. It is rather 1 hard, therefore that Bill Sykes, who, perchance, is serving a term for stealing vegetables, should be set to raise vegetables to compete against the man he stole from !’- '■&
Well, afther ratlin’ this complaint I musht ha : ve fell ashlape. Annyway, I thought I wint out for a walk, an’ the firsht man I met was me ould frind George Poole. He’d losht the jolly Inks ho used to wear, so I axed him what had hapuened. “Happened !” scs he, “haven’t you heard about the latest Government move. They’re utilising prison labour so as to give the poor beggars a chance to earn a few pounds before their time’s 1 up, and they’ve started a State Prison Buikling Department. Look there ! ” ses he pointin’ to the new buildin’ that he’d been puttin’ up next to the shop av Mr Jones, the chemist. I lufct, an’ begorra a lot av min in prison clothes were swarmin’ over it at a grate rate. “That’s .worse than bein’ boycotted by the Builders’ Association,’’ ses I. “It is so,’-’ ses he. “I could beat the Association at tendering, but when the Government takes a hand in the game, what can I do ?”- “Well,” ses 1, “I hope they won’t make as big a mess av the buildin’ as the undertaker’s assistant did av the wreath. A sick man had died very suddenly, an’ some frinds from a distance had tillgraphed to the local undertaker to get a wreath made at their expense. The order was for a wreath, with the words, ‘‘Rest in peace,” on both sides av the ribbon, and if room, /‘We shall meet in Heaven.” The «n j clertaker was out av town, an’ his assistant handled the jobs. It was a startlin’ floral piece which turned up at the funeral. The ribbon bore the words : ‘Rest in peace on both sides, and, if there is rs.otn, we shall meet in .heaven.’ ” ' On roachin’ the Coalbrookdale monumint in Dee an’ Tay shtreets, I
axed a policeman who’d been afther puttin’ a cover over the grate big letthers that Dick Nash had been at such trouble to paint. “Oh,” ses he, “the Governmint have shtarted a State Coal Department, and they won’t allow anything in the shape of opposition.” “I’ll see what Mr ' Handyside has to say to that same,’ ses I, an' sure enough whin I got to his establishment in Liddel shtreet the affico-bhoy was lavin’ wid a tiiigram protestin’ against the Governmint's unwarrantable interference wid the liberty av the subject to buy coal where he pleased. He towld me their action was as illegal as that av the girl from the counthry that was towld by her mishtress to poach some eggs. “Can you poach eggs,” ses she. The girl'quickly and laughingly replied that she cud do that right enough. “Very good,” ses her mishtress, “I’ll just see what you can do,” and went away. Shortly aftherwards she had occasion to spake to the girl again, but to her grate astonishmint she was not to be found in the house. Prisintly she came trippin' in wid her hat an’ jacket on. “I’ve got ’em all right, mum,” ses she, ‘‘half a dozen beauties.” “Half a dozen beauties,” repeated her mishtress, questioningly, “what do you mean ?-- “Eggs,” she said, smilin'. “But there are plenty of eggs in the house, girl, without buying more,” remarked her mistress. “Laws, mum, I didn't buy ’em,” she said. “-You told me to poach ’em, and I managed it fine. ■You see,”- she added, by way of information, “my father and brothers do a bit of poachin’, so I knew in a minute what you meant.”, rfc & $
Havin’ Mr Handyside, I lukt up Willie Mar tin. only to learn that he’d gone away to give Davie Roche a lesson in bowlin’, as the Govcrnmint were threatenin’ to open State shops an’ he’d have plinty av time to play bowl S'. Thin I wint over to the cab shtand, but the only man I saw there, was me janial friad Greenaway Boyce. He towld me the Govcrnmint had taken change av the cab services av the colony, an’ were runnin’- thim wid prisoners who needed the openair treatmint. - 4~
‘‘An’ what about the tramway service/’ ses I. “Oh,” ses he, winkin’ his eye, ‘‘the Governmint won't interfere wicl that in a hurry,’-’ “'Why not ?” ses I. “Why,” ses he. “it’s indispensable ; only to-day I saw Mr Gardiner, of Waikiwi, coming in the car on his way to Stewart Island, and when I asked him if he wasn’t afraid of being seasick he replied—'Not much, after travelling by the tram car.’ ” I thanked him, an’ wint up Don street to interview Mr John Kingsland, an’ found him in a suit av dungaree an’ gum boots. "Hello,” ses I, “what’s up ?” “Yes, it is hello, with the ‘o’ left out,” ses he, an’ thin he explained that the prison department had. taken it into their heads to establish confectionery works, an’ he was goin’ to thry minin’ on the West Coast till they came to their sinses. 4" By this time I was gettin' fut&ore, so I wint down to Raeside’s for a cup av tay an’ some av their lovely scones, whin to me surprise Mr Rae-
side lukt as glum as possible. ‘'Sure,’ ses I, “what's become av the cheery shmile ye used to have, an’ the hearty handshake ye used to g’ive ?" “Man, Denis/’- ses he, “it's awful work. We’ll hae tae pit oor heids thegither, an' pit oot the Governmint —hae ye no heard they’re about tae stairt restaurants for the people ?’’ “Well, Andrew,’’ ses I, “I hadn’t heal’d it, but I’m not surprised at annything- now,’’ an’ wid that I lift him, an’ ,wint out to the beer depots, but whin I met Mr Roope his usual serene Ink had vanished, an’ he appeared to be worried. Thin I lukt over me shoulder an’ understud the ray son av it all. His name had been wiped out, an’ the word “Government’’ had been painted in, an’ a lot av prisoners were busy handin’ out kegs to Mr Bull an’ some other min. I tuk the firsht car to town, an’ thx’ied the booksellers, an’ the drapers, an’ the butchers, an’ ’twas all the same —prisoners everywhere, all shmilin’ an’ all busy as bees. ‘‘This bates all," ses I to mcsilf, “there’ll be no livin’ for the. honest man if things go on liße this, an’ wid that I thought I’d better make sure av a coffin at anny rate, but whin I got to King-island an’ Ferguson’s he was in a trap, an' he towld me he was goin’ farmin', as the State had taken over his business as a goin’ concern in order to find congenial work for some prisoners av a serious turn av mind. 4- 4: 4Well, Mr Editor, ye can well beiave that that broke me up entirely, until it suddenly shtruck me that I’d go an see me ould frind Warder Hawkins that has been havin’ his name in the papers so much av late over the buildin' av the new gaol. It was the cordial reciption he gave me, an’ whin he had showed me how illigantly the work was bein’ done, I axed him if ho wasn’t afraid av his life. “What do ye mean, Denis ?’’ ses he. “Why," ses I, “if ye go on showin’ the Governmint how prisoners can be made to do ivirything the paplo ’ll be thinkin’ yer a source av public danger, like the Russian official that was shot at that often that hisi neighbours petitioned to have him removed in case somewan else got hurt." ‘T’m not afraid av that, Denis," ses he, but I can well credit that same, for there’s not a braver man goin’, so havin’ failed to make an impression in that quarter, 1 wint to the “Ould Men’s Home," at the railway station, an' found it packed wid a crowd av railway hands. They were in a terrible way, Mr Editor, for word had jusht come down that Hall-Jones was goin’ to run the engines wid prisoners, who’d been trained in their shpare time by wan av the grate correspondence schools in ‘America. Some av thim wanted to wire to John Thomas Marryatt Hornsby, M.H.R., but I towld the chaps to wait a while, an' I’d put their point av view into the papers, but whin I rached the Times affice I lukt in ‘ vain for me ould frinds Tom Raid an' G. R. Joyce, an' Jack Aspray, an’ learned from a new man beyant the counter that the Governmint had taken possession, includin’ the leadin’ articles, an’ that the only thing they 'hadn’t got howlt av was a letther from Mr Buxton on the new iniquity av chargin’ a rint for private sidings.
Jusht as I was lavin’ the afficey who shud I bump against but me ould frind Towler G-ambling. ‘‘Why,’-! ses I, “you’re the firsht happy-lukin"-nian I’ve met to-day.’’ “I’m always h appy, Denis, ’ ’ ses he, “an’ just now, I’m more happy than usual. The fact/ is, Denis, I’ve just thought of a plan for circumventing the Governments I’m out of a billit, but if I break a window or two I’ll be landed in gaol, and under the new order of things I’ll be appointed to a position in some of the State Departments, and have an assured future.” “Sure, now,” ses I, wid a luk av admiration, “ ’tis the fine head ye have on yer shoulders, an’ I’m wid ye in the job—that is,” ses T, “if ye ax'e sure it’ll work all right.” “Of course it will,” ses Mr Gambling—“you should not be so sceptical, Denis, you remind me of the meanest man in America. He engaged a physician to attend his wife, who was seriously ill. The meanest man’s reputation was so bad that the doctor askod him ‘Will you ever pay me ?’ T will give you my note,’ said the man, ‘and to assure you payment, I wall make it payable kill or cure.’ The lady died. The note became due, but the man w’ould not pay. At last the doctor brought suit. The judge scanned the note, found it exact and perfect in detail, and asked the defendant if he knew, of any good reason why judgment should not be given against him. The old man rose and said ha had no attorney to represent him, for the reason that he only w ? anted to ask the plaintiff tw r o questions. The court agreeing, he said to the doctor : —‘Did you cure my wife ?’ ‘No,’ said the doctor, ‘that veas Impossible.’ ‘Did you kill her ?’ The doctor collapsed.” - “Well, Mr Editor, we picked up some av the loose metal that Davia Roche hates to see lying in the shtreets, an’ I w-as jusht raisin’- me arm to throw it through a window in the police station whin I woke up wid- a yell, an’ Katie an’ Bedalia, an’ : Corney shtandin’ round me wid shmellin’ salts, Worcester sauce, a flask av Puni Creek wather, an’ other powerful restoratives, an’ talkin ,j av sindin’ for Mr Cameron av the Health Department. 4* -¥ Whin I came to, I towld all about what had happened, but they only, laffed in mo face, Mr Editor, an’ said I musht have been talcin’ something that didn’t agree wid me. Katie talked at a grate rate, an’ said that I wasn’t fit to live wid dacint paple if I carried on like that in me siape, but Corney shtuck up for me, an’ said I wasn’t so bad wax nee paple got used to me. ‘‘Thank you, kindly. Corney,” ses I,” “sure ’tis a frind in need yc are—ye remind me av the man that said he shtuck up for a frind av his called Johnson. ‘I say, Johnson,’ ses he, ‘I met your friend George Knight yesterday.’ ‘You don’t say so, Alfred, Nice chap; —isn’t he ?’ ‘Yes, and very thoughtful of what he talks about,’ ses Alfred. ‘He told me you weren’t lit to live with the gorillas at the Zoo, but mind you, Johnson, I stuck up for you.’ ‘Thank you,’ old chap, you are a brick. What did you say when he said I was not fit to live with the gorillas.’ ‘Why,’ ses Alfred, ‘I told him you were.’” DENIS.
The Contributor., Southern Cross, Volume 14, Issue 52, 30 March 1907
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