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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

Town Cries.

BY PHIL DUIGNAN.

(?Continued from previous issue.)

The only living thing that greeted the great Ashfmd on his first arrival, besides those mentioned was a spotted kangaroo dog that, walked stealthily towards him with upturned eyes wbile he was undergoing the sawdust ordeal. The instinct of tho kangaroo dog taught him to appreciate greatness, and he was evidently bent on giving Mr. Ashford a canine reception, but seeing that his advances were not encouraged he cocked his ears, cocked his tail, bristled the hair on his back, and started for the street at full speed, pursued by his owner, who turned back occasionally to mutter a threat against Mr. Ashford, whom he bad taken for a cleric and whom he charged with setting wild his dog with what he was pleased to term clerical superstition. By this time Mr. Ashford had got as far as the Queensland National Bank, which place he entered, running up the stops like a man who had heard of the bank's failure or a

man going to stick it up, a bit of bravado that had the effect of gathering a crowd, no doubt thinking that, should it be the latter, there was sure to be gold knocking about in the struggle. Although Mr. Ashford had disappeared be was still represented by deputy on the wharf by a Chinaman servant wnom he fetched from Brisbane with him. The Chinaman thought that as his master had mn away an apology was due him as deputy, and asked the Divisional Board boss far an explanation, a demand that was met with the words, " Who are you ?" to which the Canton gentleman replied, " I come along Goveement House, my masa all a same Guvnor, you savee no more than blackfellow, you never washee hand, you bring im plenty sawdust, make im goud fellow, masa along me close up blind." The foregoing may look farcical but it is nevertheless true, and there »re bera in town a balf^Mwa man who '

can vouch for its accuracy ; to nny One who ' has known the venerable Ashford for the last four years it won't appear strange, and of course leaving the chairman of the Divisional Board out of a farcical enactment

would be like the oft- quoted play of

" Hamlet" without the Prince of Denmark. For a few weeks after Mr. Ashford's arrival in Cairns his friends were busily engaged impressing on the townspeople the import- ance of giving him the respect due him, that although ho was not exactly a minister of the gospel, that he was a good man who built churches, supplemented them with organs, and occasionally preached in them with an ulterior object in view. But whether the object was the Kingdom of Heaven or not they did not say nor did any one take the trouble to question them. After a while it leaked out, as all secrets will, that Mr. Ashford was a retired statesman enjoy- ing ofiuni cuni di ¡¡nit atc at present, but as he always kept an eye to benefiting his fellow- men be might yet be prevailed on to stand for the Cairns electorate should a vacancy

occur. The faithful few whose admiration

of the great mau grew more intense by a lengthy acquaintance wondered that some member was not dying to make room for him. At last the fates so willed it that a member did die, whereupon it was at once announced that the great Ashford waa in the

field.

The plebeians now began to inquire if Mr. Ashford had served his former con- stituents faithfully. To this inquiry an answer found its way northwards to the

effect that Mr. Ashford did not give. general satisfaction to his constituents, that, like Gregsbury, M.P., in Nicholas Nickleby, he broke all his pledges, and that when called on to resign he shook his head and smiled, following the example of Gregsbury with but one excep- tion, that of bestowing a blessing on the Pugstyle of the Ashford deputation. A few days after we received the information the great Ashford mounted the rostrum (as a mere matter of form so his friends said) and said none of the abject creatures about town had sufficient courage to question him. In surmising that, however, Mr. Ashford's friends made a mistake. There were rag- tag (as Mr. Ashford called them) then as «Hra-YTgfa.-hfc-^'a-MillMilil H with giving the right about face to a stupid   old fossil who presumed so much on the support of the insignificant silvertails that

surrounded him.

The night that Mr. Ashford addressed the electors in the Divisional Hall the board's chairman was Mr. Ashford's chairman. In introducing Mr. Ashford the chairman said that it was hardly neces- sary for Hr. Ashford to address the electors,

he was so well known South. Some one here

sung out, " South Brisbane ;" and at this . the chairman waxed wrath and bawled out, " Shut up you ragamuffin." That polite remark drew forth from the followers of the said ragamuffin a string of questions, some of which were in no way complimen- tary to the said chairman. During the interruption to the chair, Mr. Ashford attempted to speak several times, but his voice was like the raven's, and he was evidently too overcome at the idea of meeting with opposition to find vent for his feelings in words. The chair-seated audience of the great Ash-

ford rose to their feet and exclaimed one and

all that the rag-tag in the rear had upset the speech of their future member. Exas- perated beyond endurance at the reception accorded bim from electors whose votes he had courted for a year. Mr. Ashford left the hall and went home, not, however, before a white-coated supporter of his fetched a glass of brandy from John Rhodes' to revive him. Next moraine; a bulletin was issued and posted up in conspicuous places setting forth that Hr. Ashford was indisposed, and that the cause of his indisposition was apoplexy, brought on by over excitement caused hy- the opposition of a few ragamuffins on the previous evening.

To 6« continued

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