A TRUE AUCKLAND STOHY.
' rNQME, get ut> there, and move on.' \_j The policeman's bull's-eye threw a bright stream of light onto what looked like a bundle of filthy rags lying on a doorstep. The rags moved, reluctantly as it were, ana from the middle of them came a voice which said, in tones half pleading, half defiant, ' 1 am net mterfeving with anybody, :un I ?' 1 What, Ea/.orback, it's you ?' This from the oflici//. ' Yes, it i 5 I. And I am not doing anything wrong, so far as I can see. I am only taking .shelter irom the rain.' 'You will have to move on, R-.zovback. You are creating an. obstruction, and 7. shall be obliged to cop you i ! oi- being illegally on the premises here if you don't clear out.' The bundle oj" rag.: moved again, hesitated, r.nd at last slowly rose. Then tha man in them became visible". And such a man ! He looked about seventy. In reality he was barely forty. He svas thin and worn, and his pale face, sunken eyes, matted hair and stooping shoulders told a tale. What, was the matter with Bazovback ? Had ' strong drink ' brought him to this ? Was ho another 'shocking example'? Drink lias enough to answer for, but it was not vespondblo for poor lia/.orback's plight. Let us be fair. Whtn the man stood up and the light from a street lamp caught him he presented a piteous ppeetacle, indeed. ' Move on !' he murmured, echoing the words o£ the policeman—' yes, but in God's name, where ?' And so saying he sham bled oii" in the drenching rain, listlessly, aimlessly, in the direction of_ the wharf, and so was lost in the inky darkness of the night. The policeman watched him until he disappeared, then replacing his lantern in his belt he soliloquised : ' Something wrong with Ea/.ovback lately. He's getting worse. If I see him loafing about again like this I'll run him in. He'll be purw'idin a job for the coroner, if he ain't watched, that's what//--'//' be doing. 1 .« ■■•; * A few nights afterwards Eazorback was discovered again by the same oflicer, and under very similar circumstances. '"Por God's sake,' said the outcast, 'go your way and lnt me go mine. I ask nothing or any man, I injure no one ; all I beg is for liberty to wander the streets as I will until the end conies. Come, officer,' continued, the poor wretch pleadingly, ' stretch a point,' and then, with a, wan smile, ' it will not be for long.' 1 I arrest you for vagrancy, 1 answered, the officer stepping forward and seizing the bundle of rags in his strong grip, ' I don't bear you no malice, Ilazorback, but you must come with me. You ain't lit to look after yourself. You come along with me to the lock-up and we'll give you a seat by the fire and a comfortable cell, and blankets and ' 'I am no vagrant,' answered the wreck. ' A vagrant has no visible means of support, I believe. I have private means of my own, and X challenge your right to interfere with me.' 'Oh yer do, do yer!' replied the active and intelligent one, highly amused. 'Means of yer hown eh ? Shouldn't wonder if you howned a place at Kernuera and was a member of the Northern Club. Well, Eazorback, I ain't gom' to let you go ; you must come with me, and you can tell the beak all about your property in the morning.' ' As you will,' replied Eazorback, wearily. And so the bundle of rags was ' run in,' and charged with having no lawful visible means of support. He was brought up before the court in the morning and looked more ghastly in his nigs than he had by lamplight. The presiding magistrate looked at him distrustfully. Dress makes a wonderful transformation in a man's appearance. Get a Queen-street ' dude ' or 'masher' of the very first water. Strip off his fine clothes, his dainty gloves and shoes, his fine white shirt ; take away his eye-glass and his cane, and dress him in clothes falling to pieces with age — unsightly and evil smelling rags ; put a pair of heeliess and toeless boots, ripped and worn, and torn, and in boles, on his feet; exchange his stylish hard felt or glossy belitopper for a frowsy semblance of a hat, knocked out of all shape, tumbling to pieces, the rim gone, the sides and the crown on the point of dissolving partnership ; fit this man with a wig of matted, tangled hair, smear his face with dirt until his fine pink and white complexion is blackened and
unpleasant to gaze upon, and see what you will think of the change. Why your dude will be so altered that his very appearance will be sufficient to ensure his getting throe months ' hard ' ! And so his Worship looked distrustfully at poor Itazorback. | ' Why don't you work ?' ho said. j ' Your Worship,' replied Bazorback in a voice j unmistakably that of a gentieman, in spite of his ■ rags and dirt, ' I have no control over myself. I crave your indulgence. I am no vagrant. I have means, private means, and if you will permit me I can prove my words.' So saying the prisoner handed up to the astonished magistrate, a torn and soiled paper. 1 ' Why, this,' said His Worship, after glancing over the thir.g, ' is the title-deed oi a section of land '— ' Valued at £-100, your Worship,' interrupted the prisoner. ' How came it that this deed was not found ■on the prisoner when he was searched ?' de--1 mantled the magistrate. ' Because is was sswn inside the lining of mv trousers, Your Worship,' replied Kaaorback. ' But I have other property. Sufficient to live upon. lama S( remittance man." ' "'And what on earth do you mean hj going about as you have been?' demanded the magistrate, ' when it appears you have property sufficient to enable you to live decently ?' 'That question, sir,' replied the prisoner, with some embarrassment;, ' I would rather not reply to. But Ido no harm. I neither seek ncr want charity. lam (with a feeble attempt at a smile) the most inoii'ensive of beings.' The magistrate enquired of the police whether the prisoner had been long in his then state. He was told ' for years.' They were afraid of his coming to some harm. He hardly seemed responsible for his actions. "Had he no friends? was ths nest question* No, he had none. ' Well,' said his Worship, at last, once more addressing himself to the prisoner, ' I really do not think you are a fit and proper person to be at large. You must be protected against yoursslf. True, you have means, but you will not use them, seemingly. Neither have you paid the slightest attention to the repeated warnings of the police. For your own sake I shall order your committal to Mount Eden Gaol for twelve months.' The prisoner bowed with the easy grace of a man accustomed to bowing, and was removed to await his transference to Mount Eden. * * # Bazorbficl:,as you may possibly have suspected, had a history. He was, I find on enquiry, a man of good family, a gentleman by birth and education. Twenty years ago he arrived in Auckland, where he became, after the lapse of a few months, engaged to a very pretty girl. For some reason or other the pretty girl threw her lover jvist before the day on which they were to be married dawned. There was • somebody else,' as usual, in the case, and for that somebody else poor Bazorbaek was jilted. , , . The' disappointment appears to have broken his heart and slightly affected his reason. He made a vow that he would never work agaiu, and that he would take no steps to prolong his life. Hs would, as he said, ' simply wait for the end.' He had not long to wait after his incarceration in Mount Eden gaol. He died there a few months later. Such is the strange, true story of poor Bazorback, who is still remembered by many of the present residents of Auckland. F CA.W.
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