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Widder Haines were a-expecting of you to kill her pig tonight, as you'd said as you would. But I reckon as you've got a better job a-sitting on up yonder."
Our chairman grinned feebly, but made no response; and so Orlick, who seemed to be in an unusually benignant frame of mind, addressed his next remark to me
"Warm in here, Master Garge, bean't it? I'm all of a muck sweat, same as when you and I run that six as you hit."
Here Mr Wilkins, who had seemed to take the allusion to his superior officer's extraneous vocation as a reflection on the board school, interposed.
"Now, my good man, will you be good enough to put your questions if you have any to put. The children are waiting."
"P'raps I shall, and p'raps I shan't, Wilkins," replied Orlick, "don't you worrit;" and having thus reduced Erasmus to a state of silent though boiling indignation, he turned to the corps d'élite who were standing expectant.
"Now, then, you kiddies," he said, "I'm a-wondering which of you fine scholards could tell a chap how much a third and a half a third of twopence halfpenny makes?"
The boys stared at the girls, and the girls simpered at the boys; but for a moment there was a dead silence.
"Don't all like to speak at once, don't yer?" suggested the examiner. "Well, now, young carroty," and he picked out no
less a person than Master Wilkins, junior, the flower of his father's flock, "how much be a third and half a third of twopence halfpenny?"
"Two pence," said the boy stolidly.
"You won't do much good shopping, my lad. What do you say?" and Orlick nailed the biggest girl, who had hopes of shortly becoming a pupilteacher, and who now dropped a curtsey and whispered, "Please, I don't know."
"Well, then, you ought ter, if as how you'd ever been learnt anything. Come," and he addressed the corps d'élite collectively, "ain't none of you going to tell a chap?”
Three or four of the children took courage and made wild shots, none of which seemed to satisfy the examiner; and at last, trembling for the credit of his class, "pater ipse gregis," the great Wilkins stepped into the breach. And here I am sorry to record that Erasmus was not in that calm frame of mind in which a man either reasons or calculates, but rather following the line which the gentleman, whom that out-andout ruffian Mr Facey Romford designated "Hard-and-Fast,' tried when other people had apparently exhausted every wrong way of spelling Cat, he made a rash and final plunge.
"It is a very silly question, boys and girls," he enunciated with stiff magisterial dignity, "but perfectly simple if you go the right way to work. The answer is one penny three farthings."
"Get along with you!"
promptly ejaculated the blacksmith, "you're the worst of the whole bilin'. I ain't a-going to stop here no longer to hear sich nonsense talked," and with that he stumped off out of the room, followed-oh, how fickle is popularity!—by the tremendous applause of the gallery. And indeed the man Orlick, as I have chosen to call him, having signally overthrown the general of the opposing forces, might be said to have vindicated his claim to the spolia opima.
"The man is either mad or drunk," protested the now infuriated Wilkins, and he might have gone on to say harder things. But just at this juncture I saw a slip of paper fall at his feet. He picked it up, glanced hastily at something written upon it, grew very red in the face, and crumpling up the paper thrust it into his waistcoat pocket. Then after a moment's pause he did what was not only a very honest
FROM A COUNTRY-HOUSE IN NEW ZEALAND.
BY MRS A. S. BOYD.
THE wharves and streets of Auckland bespeak industrial industrial prosperity, and the clear exhilarating air is redolent of health. Not that the climate invariably strikes the visitor as perfect. During our first few weeks in Auckland the rain rained and the wind blew to such an extent as to keep our friends in a chronic state of apology for their weather. Our later experience, however, atoned for all, and convinced us that the much-lauded climate deserves all, or nearly all, the admiration it claims. Though the sun's rays are stronger than in England, the sea - breezes pleasantly temper the air; and even in the height of summer the nights are cool enough to necessitate the use of a blanket—an article one is only too glad to dispense with during the same season at home.
Day driving through Auckland to the wharf, our faces coated with a thick layer of grey dust which penetrated even through double gossamer veils, every little while being obliged to stop the horses and sit with closed eyes and bowed heads until that particular segment of the dense dust-cloud had blown past.
Dress is expensive in New Zealand, and, in consequence of such weather vagaries, lasts but a short time. I reckoned that, were I resident in Auckland, it would cost me four times as much money to dress as it does in London. In the first place, the materials and making would cost twice the sum; and in the second, the combined influences of sun, dust, and rain are such that the completed garments would last only half the period. Light washing materials are cheap, and as
a rule girls wear coloured cambric frocks in the morning and white piqué or muslin later. The shortness of their skirts amused us, until we realised that their arrangements in that way were dominated by the depth of the dust on the roads.
A pleasant thing among many pleasant things recordable of this country is the interest taken by the female portion of the community in literature. True, their reading is almost exclusively confined to the easy paths of contemporary fiction.
But in that study they are rarely more than six weeks behind the mother country. English magazines are sold at a premium; but the colonial editions of the newest books are handy, cheap, and well up to date.
As hinted above, it is the women who read. The average native-born New Zealand male cultivates his muscles. He rides, rows, shoots, plays football, and attends races, and none can expect a mind engrossed with like pursuits to take kindly to less robust occupations. Also he develops late. At home we are accustomed to put the dimpled limbs of our infants into trousers, and to see their chubby faces overshadowed by preposterous chimney - pot hats. In Auckland it amazed us to find huge lads of sixteen still wearing knickerbocker sailor suits and enjoying schoolboy games.
Auckland street - cars are a wonderful institution. The number of passengers is only limited by the clinging - on space. There are no seats on the top, so that smokers have to find accommodation on the front and back platforms. At busy hours it is customary to see ten people squeezed on to the place originally set apart for the driver, and a dozen or more hilarious travellers crowding the conductor off the back step; the inside being crammed with sitting and standing passengers. Even under these circumstances none need hesitate to hail the car and insist upon admittance.
Coming direct from our stern, workaday England, New Zea
land impressed us as a land of perpetual leisure. Workmen enjoyed high wages and an eight hours' day; and no event was deemed too small to be made the occasion of a holiday.
The harbour was full of boats, from the goodly steamyacht to the veriest tub that ever supported sail, and each Saturday the owners of these vessels embarked with companies of high-spirited guests, to return early on Monday, having spent the intervening hours cruising about among the islands; camping on shore, or sleeping on board if the accommodation admitted of it. Parties of schoolboys spent their holidays camping out, under canvas, in water gullies, where they could bathe, fish, shoot, and play at wild Indians as their souls desired. The craving for gipsying, born of the perfect climate, sometimes even infected sedate families, and it was no uncommon thing, when having a riding picnic, to chance upon some lovely fern-banked gulch where
under a cluster of more or less ramshackle tents-a staid respectable family might be found leading a nomad life.
Horses are so cheap in Auckland that pedestrianism bids fair to become extinct. The postman does his rounds on horseback; the butcher, a huge basket slung over his arm, canters up with ordered provender. Schoolboys, two frequently sharing a mount, ride to school, where a paddock is reserved for their ponies. Even the lamplighter performs his duties perched on an ambling
nag, while the droves of live stock passing along the roads are always under the care of a mounted escort. When an outdoor man is sent an errand that would entail walking a quarter of a mile, he invariably spends ten minutes in catching a horse that he may ride. But more ludicrous than all else was it to see a sweep, his attention to the kitchen chimney completed, canter off on his nag, with the bag of soot perched on the saddle before him.
As an instance of the topsyturvy state of things antipodean, it may be mentioned that it is considered smarter to drive in a hired carriage than in your own trap.
"Oh, did you notice how stylish the So-and-so's were on Saturday? They had a hired landau," was one of the colonial remarks that impressed
With our usual desire for information we inquired, “Is hiring supposed to be stylish? You all had your own carriages, and that is surely much nicer?" "Oh yes; but you see horses are so cheap to buy here, and hiring is so dear, that it is considered smarter, because it is more expensive to hire."
The friends to whom we paid a delightful visit lived near the base of One Tree Hill, an extinct volcano three miles from Auckland. Their home was typically colonial, having many rooms on one floor, and a wide verandah. Before the verandah steps two tall cabbage - palms stood sentinel. The sloping lawn was decorated, colonial fashion, with flowering trees, magnolia, hibiscus, lasendria, deodar, plumbago,
pepper, lemon, loquat, and orange, each set solitary in a round bed. Roses bloomed about the verandah posts, and at one end a great bougainvillea rioted in purple glory. In the wide flower-borders under the verandah gorgeous Japanese lilies jostled homely sweet-peas and mignonette; and giant red and pink geraniums and blue hydrangeas outgrew their bounds and strove to block the paths.
A long row of guava-bushes, laden with embryonic fruit, edged one side of the lawn; over the trellis - work the smooth green eggs of the passion fruit were suspended in thousands; and between a double line of fig-trees a path led to the prolific kitchen-garden. In December, when we landed, green peas were plentiful; and in March, when we sailed, a third succession was in bloom. Tomatoes fruited with little attention. Squashes, pumpkins, and marrows needed only to have their seeds inserted in the ground to yield a bountiful harvest. beans alone there were five varieties: broad, haricot (for winter use), runner, French, and butter beans.
The rich brown volcanic earth was clean and unpolluted-one could sit on the dry soil in a muslin frock without getting it soiled. Flies were plentiful, but the minor pests of a garden, such as wasps, ants, caterpillars, earwigs, and woodlice, were but scantily represented.
At the upper end of the grounds was the tiny cottage set apart for the use of the outdoor man, and to him, as a col