Fifty years behind the scenes : being the reminiscences of Bobby Watson, Australia's favourite comedian / [Bobby Watson] Watson, Bobby, 1861-

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Watson, Bobby, 1861-
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Watson, Bobby, 1861-; Comedians - Australia - Biography.; Watson, Bobby, b. 1861.
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YOU nUST; ACTUALLY PLAT THE Gulbransen Zsu& t tsvncerZc REGISTERING PIANO Before You Can Absolutely Know The Perfection Of This Wonderful Instrument Call In and Judge by Comparison E. P. Wilks & Co. LTD., 321 PITT ST., SYDNEY. OPEN FRIDA/ NIGHTS SUFFERED FROM NERVOUS BREAKDOWN and INSOMNIA But regained health and strength after taking six boxes of R| Mean’s II Tonic Nerve Nuts was the experience of Mr BOBBY WATSON, The author of “ Fifty Years Behind the Scenes.” NERVE NUTS are a nerve food and tonic compounded in tablet form for convenience of taking. They strengthen the nerves and enrich the blood, restoring physical energy and nerve force. Boxes containing 12 days’ supply cost 3s. at all Chemists and Stores. BOBBY WATSON has proved the value of HEENZO as a money saving remedy for Coughs, Colds and other Chest and Throat Ailments. HEENZO costs 2/- everywhere. PIANOS Music PLAYER PIANOS Music Rolls TALKING MACHINES Records Nicholson’s 390 George Street, SYDNEY. “MEET MR. WATSON.” I have known Bobby Watson from the beginning of his stage career —some fifty years ago—as a born comedian who could sing and dance, and a loyal Australian. I can picture him now on the stage of the Criterion, with Carrie Swain, in “The Tomboy,” when they sang— “We’re going to be married next Sunday, And we’ll have such a gay old time; The boys and the girls will be dancing, And we’ll hand round the cake and the wine.” Prior to that event, I remember him being hunted off the stage in “Struck Oil,” at the old Queen’s Theatre, by Maggie Moore —incensed by his taunts of “Dutchy! Dutchy!” That was in 1875, when Bobby was a boy and Maggie was a slip of a girl who did not know her own genius. Since then I have known him, on and off the stage, during engagements with JVC. Williamson, George Musgrove, grove, Alfred Dampier, George Darrell, Harry Rickards, and many of the managers who assisted to build up the Australian stage. Most of my theatrical friends of the ’seventies, ’eighties, and ’nineties have taken the Last Call, and I know few to-day who have Bobby Watson’s intimate knowledge ledge of bygone theatres and departed players, and I feel sure that all the old hands, and most of the new, will rejoice to hear the true stories told of them by Bobby Watson, an old-time actor with a young heart. GEORGE BLACK. Legislative Council, 16th September, 1924. CHAPTER I. The Introduction by the Stage Manager. Ladies and Gentlemen, —I come before the curtain tain to introduce Bobby Watson, who is at present “behind the curtain,” putting his hair on straight, touching up his nose, and attending to various other incidentals necessary for his phiz for his proper entry. “Bobby” to-day is as lively as ever, though he is over ten. To tell you the truth his age is—no —no! I’ll let him tell you that, as he has a good joke to explain why he happened to be born, and where. However, Bobby has been on the Australian stage over fifty years, having been stage-struck at a very early age and, like another item, is “still going strong.” He was the original “Billy Patterson” in “Struck Oil,” being then known as Master Watson. I may mention that I can remember Bobby Watson son in my early years, as I have always had a taste for the theatre, one of my earliest delights being the pantomime, “Little Red Riding Hood,” that opened the Lyceum Theatre in Pitt Street, when Williamson and Musgrave first began partnership. Bobby Watson, in that play, was a simple youngster ster who came in on almost every scene with a dog. On his first appearance he had a pup under his arm. On his second appearance the pup was a little bigger, but with a comical wink he told the audience it was “the very same dawg,” so on each appearance of Simple Simon, the dog was larger and larger, and each time Bobby Watson assured the audience that it was “the very same dawg.” It was a gag that spread over Sydney, and everybody used it; in fact, when a magistrate was fining some persons for non-registration of dogs, one person, who was summoned, said it had already been registered. “Then,” said the magistrate, in Bobby Watson’s funny way, “then, it’s ‘the very same dawg?”’ That pantomime was a wonderful show. It had Robert Courtneidge, who came on made up as a funny ugly-looking dame, with her bald head so blobbed that it would have made a phrenologist weary trying to explain what they stood for. He casually came down to the footlights, and as the audience roared with laughter, he pointed out that the audience needn’t laugh, as he once “took first prize at a beauty show, but—he had to put it back, as he was watched.” Bobby Watson joined with Courtneidge in this pantomime in some fine turns, one of the turns being the song: — “It made no difference, not a bit of difference, And the truth to you I’ll tell: He wanted to buy some' sausages, But they gave a bull pup, And that did just as well.” In the same pantomime Alice Learner introduced a great favorite song, “Ta-ra-ra-Boomdeay,” which was everywhere whistled, whilst Courtneidge with “Up I came with my little lot,” and his “Sausage Roll” gag was wonderful. The latter ran like this: “Do you know how to make a sausage roll? No? Then here you are. You take a sausage. Right-o Then you go to the top of the roof and —you let the sausage roll to the bottom. There you see a sausage roll!” This gag was passed from one funny character to another, and went round the city; also, Courtneidge got the credit for it; but at the final performance of the pantomime he was good enough to announce that Bobby Watson first gave him the joke, and so he made him a handsome present of it. Ah, well! “Those were the days.” Just think of the string of celebrities Bobby Watson son has acted with. Here are a few of them:— Carrie Swain, Maggie Moore, J. C. Williamson, George Gordon, Jennie Watt-Tanner, Charles Warner ner (in “Drink”), Herbert Flemming, Teddy Roycc, Emma Temple, Oily Deering, John F. Sheridan (“Fun on the Bristol”), Janet Achurch, Jennie Lee, Slade Murray, George Titheradge, Dion Boucicault, Phil Beck, Pattie Brown, Robert Brough, Bland Holt, Kate Bishop, Hilda Spong. Alfred Dampier, Fanny Robing, Harry Leston, Harry Rickards, Marie Narelle, John Lemmone, George Rignold, and other great theatrical favourites. Now, think of all Bobby Watson will have to say in his “Behind the Scenes” —But whoosk! someone has stuck a pin in me through the curtain; I guess it’s Bobby Watson. He gives me a hint to cut the rest out, so I’ll retire and let Bobby, “the very same dawg,” come before you and tell you all about it, which he will do now. CHAPTER 11. Yes, I’m Bobby Watson. That stage-manager chap in the last chapter would have talked to you till you got too tired to listen to what he wanted to say. His proper job is in Parliament, where they have such a crowd of talkers that the fellow who has the least to say is sarcastically labelled “The Speaker.” Well, I was born at a very early age at Sofala, on ,the Turon River, not on the river, mind you, because that would have been too damp for a chap at my age, and I was too young then to enjoy a bank-wet (pause for a moment, there is a joke somewhere). Larry Foley happened to be born at the same place—of course, we weren’t twins, but pals. Larry was a strong sort of chap; in fact, he was afterwards wards the champion boxer of Australia, and not only champion boxer in the fighting ring, but later he was a champion boxer in another way, for he shifted all the boxes out of the Devonshire Street Cemetery to Botany Bay, to make room for the present Central Railway Station at Sydney. However, as I said before, I w&s born young. It happened in November, 1861. Other great people were born in that month, but I wasn’t interested in many people just then. After a year in Sofala my folks determined to leave the Turon gold fields to come to Sydney. We didn’t use a Chalmers car of 25 horse-power. It was a charmers’ cart of one horse-power, the charmers being my dad, mum and sisters and brothers —a load of 11 of us. I was told it was an exciting trip, as we had the bushrangers rangers about us, but we got to Sydney in a couple of weeks, where my people started business in a lolly shop in Liverpool Street, opposite to where is now Snow’s. You see, I was reared amongst sweet things, which is no doubt why I have ever since tried to be sweet and merry! At that time there were many bands of buskers — a sort of nigger minstrels, who would blacken their faces and would entertain the crowd with song and what melody they could get out of a dilapidated concertina, bones and triangle. It seemed a great joke to imitate them, and also an easy way to win wealth, so I and two pals followed them round till we learned their songs, and we blacked our faces with burnt newspaper —you see, I always did like newspaper paragraphs—so with the “power of the press,” so to speak, we went forth as buskers, starting at the corner of Campbell Street. Being under age limit, we were looked upon as curiosities, and so got the biggest crowd and the largest collection. tion. One lucky gold-digger who had come to town with a bag of good stuff, and who had evidently taken a glass or two, was very pleased with the world generally, and liberally subscribed to the boy with the hat, dropping a nugget into it with other worthwhile contributions. We liked the busking business till we got home, when my dad thought other parts of my anatomy should be blackened with a strap. (The rest of that scene need not be described.) However, a couple of weeks later a lucky digger friend of Dad Watson heard me warble, and as a silver mug was being offered at the Queen’s Theatre, in York Street, in 1872, for the best amateur comic singer, the Dad’s digger friend advised him “putting Bob on for the night,” so I went for the mug. However, other mugs went for that mug, the people in the audience being the judges. They came prepared pared for vigorous criticism, and so were loaded with cabbages, tomatoes, and eggs that had seen better days. Amongst the competitors were Johnny Deeble, who afterwards took Beach, the world’s champion sculler, to London, and Andy Blanchard, whom I ever remember with a sigh of regret, for he afterwards joined the stage. However, talking of the mug at the Queen’s Theatre, I had the luck to win it with a song called “Awfully Clever.” I must have been, for I not only won the mug, but my own mug did not receive any of the produce the audience freely distributed on some of the others. Jack Deeble and Andy Blanchard, however, was well received. “THE SILVER MUG” On it is inscribed “Robert Watson, winner of the Amateur Singers’ Competition, aged 11—1872.” I cannot think of Andy without a sigh of regret, for dear Andy had a most pathetic passing out. It was one night at Dapto. Andy was in fine voice and sang that touching song, “Their Heads Nestled Closer Together.” A comic singer had to follow him, and stood in the wing, with all his funny make-up on him ready to do a sort of comical clown act. There the comic man stood trying to pick funny gags out of Andy’s pathetic ballad. Andy had the audience with him as he sang: A garden and in it an old apple tree, Around it two children, a lassie turned three, And t’other a lad of p’raps four and a half, Are chasing each other while gaily they laugh, The lassie soon tires of the circular race, As vainly she follows the lad in the chase, His stronger legs make it an unequal match. And he merrily mocks all her efforts to catch. She cries: “Tommy, stop!” but “Turn on Tate,” says he; "I s’ant t’ause I t’ant run no farver,” says she, Then frowns, and her patience, ’tis easy to see, Has nigh reached the end of its tether. Then Katie breaks down with a plaintive “800 hoo,” Tom stops, and the tears are in Tommy’s eyes, too; She says, “Oo don’t love me!” He says, “’Ess I do,” And their heads nestled closer together. A green lane and in it two fond lovers roam, And place in love’s garden their bright future home, To-morrow’s their wedding, ’tis Tommy and Kate, But now grown to manhood and woman’s estate. His arm round her waist tells the tale of their bliss, As vainly she stops all his efforts to kiss, “You mustn’t,” “I shall,” and then something goes “hiss,” And their heads nestled closer together. A graveyard, and in it a tiny babe’s grave,. An early wrecked vessel on life’s cruel wave, Their twelve-months-old darling, their loved one, their all, Now gone from this earth at the Mighty One’s call, A life of pure sunshine, and joy had been theirs, With smiling face meeting all trivial cares, Till all hopes were shattered and sped in a breath, And life’s joys are shadowed by dread clouds of death. There in that God’s Acre they stand, he and she, The sun veils its head as though in sympathy; And buried forever their lives seem to be, In that grave ’neath the wild-growing heather. As tears falling fast for her babe now at rest, The man holds her close to his sorrowing breast — “Come, cheer up my darling, it’s all for the best”; And their heads nestled closer together. When came the last verse, with its touching reference to the churchyard, the audience were in tears: — And as dear Andy gave the last words in the sweetest of voices, he fell to the stage —and passed away! The audience rose —the comedian rushed out on the stage in all of his funny make-up, and as he stood over poor Andy’s dead body, the tears fell from his eyes as, with uplifted hand, he said in a broken voice; “We have all got to answer the Mighty One’s call,” and the curtain came slowly down. CHAPTER 111. Everybody knows of Harry Rickards and his later ownership of Australian theatres, yet it is a long way back to 1874, when Harry Rickards, with his wife (Carrie Rickards'), and Lizzie Watson, son, opened a season at the School of Arts, in Pitt Street, Sydney. It was Harry’s first visit, but being dissatisfied he left the concern ajid was taken up by Nick Hegarty, who gave Harry iIOO a week and a onehorse horse brougham to roam around in. It is somewhat different to-day. A modern comic singer, like Wilkie Bard, gets £4OO a week, but whether he also gets the loan of a one-horse brougham or a 25 horse-power motor, I haven’t heard. Anyhow, Harry Rickards in 1874 had a benefit given him, at which Harry announced that he would give a “beautiful silver cup” for the best imitation of him in a song called “Brown, the Tragedian.” The song jerked something like this: “I’ve been a great star in my time, But I’m reduced to a seedy-un, On me you may glance and behold Julius Brown, the Tragedian!” This silver cup was a bit of a disappointment, though I happened to win it, for it later on proved to be pewter! However, I was compensated by getting a hatful of money thrown on to the stage. A year after, in 1875, I was engaged to play as a boy with J. C. Williamson and Maggie Moore in “Struck Oil,” at the old Queen’s Theatre, in York Street, Sydney. This play, with its great story of the oil field of Pennsylvania, made the Williamson fortune, and though he has passed away, the great Williamson Company of to-day is its big record. The Williamson son concern certainly “struck oil.” Williamson and his wife (Maggie) toured with that play the world over, having made their great hit with it in this “land of sunshine.” There were some great types in that Australian production, including Will Andrews, the great comedian, Will J. Hollaway, who married a widow whose stage name was Miss Harden, and who was the mother of Essie Jennings, who afterwards became came a wonderful Shakesperian actress, and whose portrayal of Portia in “The Merchant of Venice” was a triumph. Essie afterwards married John Wood, the great brewer of Newcastle, passing out a few months ago to that “Land of Rest Above.” “Rip Van Winkle” was also played by Williamson son and Maggie Moore as well as “Fritz,” afterwards wards played here by J. K. Emmet. Emmet one night was supposed to appear before the South Australian State Governor in Adelaide, and when the curtain rose there, Emmet was asleep on the stage under the sweet influence of Adelaide’s wellknown known wines. Williamson also played “The Curiosity Shop,” Williamson being Dick Swiyeller, Holloway characterising terising Quilp, whilst Maggie Moore played “Little Nell,” and played it so sweetly that the audience were in tears with the wonderful pleading way Maggie had. It is a pity that some of those great plays are not revived to-day, instead of us having forced upon us the present-day American rubbish that mostly depends upon bedroom scenes and after-consequences. One night, as we were playing “Struck Oil,” a little girl with a dirty face crept from Clarence Street up the back stairs of the theatre and looked up at Maggie, who was very fond of children, and seeing this child, took her into her dressing room, washed her face, tied a pretty blue ribbon round the little girl’s hair, and made her look like a sweet doll. I asked her who washed her face, and she said, pointing to Maggie, who just then was acting her part on the stage as Lizzie Stofel, in her short Dutch dress, said: “Dat little girl there,” and she smiled such a smile of affection that Maggie, looking ing from the stage, noticed it, and it also upset her acting, and not having any children of her own, she spent much of her would-be motherly affection upon her. Maggie is alive to-day and full of vim and talent. She has had no children of her own, but she spreads her sweet affection on her many friends. I trust that when Australia’s oldest stage favorite, Maggie Moore, reads these notes of the far days of old, she will give a kind passing thought to the little boy of that time —Bebby Watson. CHAPTER IV. The next post I got was particularly interesting, as I was a harlequin in an open-air theatre on the present site of St. Mary’s Cathedral. The had been twice burnt out before, and the present structure was half-way up and without a roof, and to raise the cost of the roof a number of us got k. gether, and in a “country fair” on the site, played in a series of bloodthirsty and other fifteen-minute dramas, tragedies, and pantomime*,. So I was a hero, a villain, or a harlequin. That country fair was a great success so far as the crowds were concerned, and when it finished, having been the factors in drawing the crowds, we marched as mentioned with expanded chests to draw our salaries, in other words to have expanded pockets, but we were coolly informed that nobody was going to be paid, as the chap who had the cash had “levanted.” We didn’t exactly know what that fancy word meant, until we were told that there was no cash left for us, and so our week’s Drama, Tragedy, and Pantomime culminated in a Tragedy that hadn’t been rehearsed. I went into the pantomime shortly after that, at the Victoria Theatre, where McCathies’ shops now stand. The play was called “The White Cat.” There was a great transformation scene, and a pretty girl (Miss Osborne) was supposed to be a mermaid under the sea. She was lying down dressed in light material, with a sheet of glass about eight feet high to represent the water, and just in front of where she was lying there was a row of gas-jets (electric light, of course, being unknown in those days). As the curtain descended, with the usual coloured glares of red and blue fires, she rose to go to her dressing room, when a part of her light dressing caught a gas jet and immediately she was a mass of fire, and whilst she was in flames an old actress, Maggie Oliver, rushed to her. Without a moment’s thought of the terrible danger to herself, she pluckily put her arms round the burning girl to extinguish the flames, when her own dress lighted and a panic followed, both in front and at the back of the theatre, and after strenuous efforts to save Miss Osborne, brave Maggie Oliver was rescued, but poor Miss Osborne passed out —“in the midst of life there is the great Unknown.” The next affair in which I was engaged was a sort of “country-fair” affair in the Exhibition Building that used to grace the Botanical Gardens. Amongst our co-workers were Johnny Cowan, one of our best comedians, who acted as clown, and with old Hanslow, a brother clown, who was yelling, “Roll up and see the greatest show this grim old world has ever held since the days of Adam and Eve. That was long ago, ladies, but here I am. Hanslow, sixty years of age,” when Johnny Cowan, the other clown, made the crowd roar by shouting, “Sixty years ‘an’ slow’ at that.” At any rate their jibing at each other got the crowd together, and easily enticed them in to see “the greatest tragedies on earth, with five murders, ladies and gentlemen, three suicides, and as much villainy as you like.” In the show the villain, a little chap, killed the goody man, a party over six feet high, who one time happened to expire rather to the front of the small stage in which we were playing, 1 had to come on as clown after the murder, but seeing the long legs of the dead man protruding from the front of the drop scene, I at once said to him: “Get up, you long-legged grass-hopper, and die further up the stage,” “Right O, Bobby,” said the dead man, and he got up again and expired beyond the drop scene. It was very touching—as it is bad enough to see a man die once, but when he dies several times, well, there is a time limit to tear drops. The Exhibition was a great building of timber, and soon after our season it caught fire and burned for two days. It was a wonderful fire in more ways than one. The Art Society of New South Wales held an exhibition there at the same time, and it was the most successful Sydney artists ever held, for all their pictures were burnt, and as they were all heavily insured, it proved to be the first exhibition tion from which Australian artists got full values for their pictures. Oh, yes, it was a great fire, in fact, it was ii remarkable conflagration of particular intensity !** j* 1111 That is the printer objecting to such big words. Me said his machine will go smash if I fire such big jaw-breakers into it, so I guess I’ll give him a week’s rest. CHAPTER V. The next adventure I had was in a pantomime at the old Queen’s Theatre, called “Bluebeard,” in which Emma Wangerheim was one of the principal characters. Emma afterwards played through the country the principal girl parts in Gilbert and Sullivan’s immortal operas. Emma was an Australian and had a wonderful voice, and, like most young Australians, she was not “profit” in her own country. Pattie Brown played a small part in the same pantomime. During that pantomime of “Bluebeard,” in the comic scene the clown (Harry Stoneham) came on with an umbrella which was attached by copper wire from the flies. I, as the harlequin, with my magic wand patted the stage and away shot the umbrella up into the flies with the clown attached to it, and as he reached the flies the wire had got a kink in it, and Harry the clown fell to the stage and broke his leg. We rushed to him as the curtain fell, and in a broken voice he said; “Take me to hospital, don’t tell my wife.” It was a tragedy as we took poor Harry to the hospital with his face painted and in his clownish gear—he pleaded that his wife be not told. Then came the great tragedians, W. E. Sheridan and Louise Davenport. They played “King Lear” to crowded houses, and during their greatest success cess the Queen’s Theatre was condemned as unfit to be played in, and as they could not get another, they had to go elsewhere. Some of us opened at what is now the Tivoli Theatre, then called the Victoria Hall, where we staged “Oliver Twist,” and Pattie Brown starred in her great part, “Oliver.” But, as the public accepted our parts, and assured our success, you can guess we were not Oliver Twist (there’s a joke there—please pause a minute or two). We next started to rehearse a piece written round the Kelly gang, which then monopolised all the newspaper space. We called the play “Ostracised.” When the piece was being cast, the stage manager, Bill South, sang out to me : “Bob, you play Sergeant Kennedy.” I took it on, but I remembered the character I played was shot by the real Ned Kelly, so I thought I’d have an easy part. Later on he said: “Bob, you now play Sergeant Steel.” I remarked: “I’m already shot.” “Then,” said he, “revive yourself with a pair of whiskers and do it again.” Steel was also shot, yet I had to come back twice after that and get shot twice again; so that I had to do four different characters, and get shot each time —I handed the four parts back to him with: “You go and shoot yourself.” So I retired from being a target, as I only had one life and one insurance policy. The night the piece opened there was such a crowd around that we could not get to the theatre, and the actors were in high falutin’ condition. They had been absolutely “hard-up” for weeks before, and saw a fortune staring them. But, as the curtain tain was going up, the Inspector of Police (not Sergeant Kennedy) would not allow the piece to be played as there was such strong public feeling in the matter regarding the Kelly Gang. After that a few of us opened what was then the Alhambra Theatre, and which is now an auction room. One night, whilst we were playing, a young fellow came in to give his services as a sort of tryout. out. I afterwards said to him: “You should stick to this, you’ve got some talent.” He stuck to it, and afterwards proved a great success in Australia and England in the person of Charlie Fanning. Harry Rickards, who since last mentioned had been round Australia, had come back hard-up, so a friend of his, Gordon, hired a ferry steamer for Sunday afternoon harbour excursions, on which Harry would sing, so that he and Gordon would divide what money was paid for the trip. Harry, getting another job, Gordon engaged me to take Harry’s part. We shared about £5 each. Just about this time there was a young girl who used to follow wherever I’d sing, and one day, as I was going past a hotel at the corner of King and Castlereagh Streets, I noted she was a barmaid there. I heard someone calling, “Bob, come here,” and she said, “I’m going on the stage, Bob. What do you think about it?” I asked her “Where?” “Down in the basement of the Imperial Arcade.” That lady is now one of London’s great singers, well known to-day as Florrie Forde. Our great ones start from small beginnings, When they start well they get good innings, And so come out with heaps of winnings. I wrote that jingle, so please take a week’s holiday day to recover from the shock CHAPTER VI. A Circus in Pawn. Whilst we were making things lively at the Alhambra there popped in, one night, Teddy McLean, and he asked me to join his “Troubadours,” dours,” a troupe of singers and dancers that didn’t hesitate tackling Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pinafore,” “Struck Oil,” “Henry V.,” “Othello,” or the “Merry Wives of Windsor,” and anything down to a minstrel show, if necessary. We played the country towns, and when at Nyngan we struck wet weather and considerable discomfort. I also struck “a circus in pawn”; in fact, the performers couldn’t make a do of it because of the continual rain and surrounding mud, so the circus folk lived in the local hotel until their funds were exhausted, and when they were turned on a cold, damp world, put up their own tent, not so much to give pleasure in it, as to get some sort of comfort out of it. The hotel proprietor, a “Mr. Murphy,” seized the horses, the trick donkey, and the rest of the outfit, including the elephant. Murphy may have known something about horses, but as for elephants, well, he began to get a bit anxious; whilst the trick donkey also began to play up a bit and make him uncomfortable. An elephant in a country pub. is about as incongruous gruous as an alligator in a church, and Murphy was having the time of his life. He’d have got grey hairs if he hadn’t been as bald as an egg. I happened to look in one day, and I thought I'd joke about it, so I said: “Mr. Murphy, I see you’ve got a customer who always carries his trunk with him.” “What the devil do you mean?” said Murphy. “The elephant, of course,” I s§id, and it was lucky I had had some training as a harlequin, for unless I had gracefully stepped aside, my head would have stopped a bottle. The circus company lodged in their tent until Murphy came along and said to the “boss of the show”: “Come and take yer old elephant, yer donkey, and yer whole outfit, and get to blazes I” The “boss of the show” saw he had a good thing on, so he up and said: “No, thank you, Mr. Murphy, you can keep the elephant and the whole box of tricks.” Murphy went off his head for a while, and it ended by him giving the “boss of the show” a tenner to take the whole concern off his hands 1 Thereafter, whenever Murphy had a nightmare, there was always an elephant in it, and it was a good joke for many a day after for all town folk to put it up to young visitors to get them to ask Murphy “What about the elephant?” to see Murphy “go off pop.” I must, however, point out that the “boss of the circus” wanted that tenner to square up some town folks who had been supplying them with tucker, and help them to get to the next town, where theystruck struck fine weather and to where the fame of Murphy’s elephant had already spread, so that the circus made a pile, and the “boss of the show” sent Murphy not only the tenner, but the money for the whole of the debt. “Struck Oil” in a Dining Room. We were at Nyngan when I mentioned the circus affair. We had no hall to play in, so had to wait till a great crowd of carriers from all parts of the western district, of which Nyngan was the centre, had finished their evening meal in the large dining room of Murphy’s hotel, when we were given the room for our show. We fixed up a frieze and proscenium and played “Struck Oil,” and we did strike it rich, for the carriers, teamsters, shearers, and other hard nuts that packed the room, paid six shillings a head to see us perform. And it was worth it to us, for we tried to act in practically a few square feet of floor space, and we had to act pretty well like statues to “exit right” through a window, through which the hero and heroine and all the characters had to “entrance and exit” during the performance. Across the Blacksoil Plains. From Nyngan we went to Nymagee in an old Cobb & Co.’s coach. It was a long two days’ run, and we broke the journey and camped the night outside a little hotel shanty. It was a cold night, and most of us were all huddled together round a fire. Some of us camped in the coach. I was one of them, and huddled up against a party that seemed rather cold, so I slipped out and joined up with the camp party. We found out next day the old chap inside was a corpse being sent on to Nymagee to be buried! I was about twenty years of age then, and thank goodness that’s the nearest I’ve been to death in my merry life. At Nymagee we stayed nearly a fortnight, and did such good business that we invested in our own transport outfit (got our own motor cars, so to speak) in the shape of a few broken-down buggies and horses that had seen better days, and with these in a solemn procession we entered Cobar. There was no brass band to welcome us or any Union Jacks to pull up or pull down. In the centre of the .town in those days was a great hill, which afterwards became the great Cobar Copper Mine, and which, I believe, is now as silent as surfing spots in midwinter. We went in our unlovely procession to Bourke. This time we were accompanied by a Cobb Coach. It is lovely country, or was then—flat as a pancake, cake, with the road running in a straight line that never seemed to change the whole day long. We had got some distance out when it began to rain and the soft clay road began to be rather a task for the poor old nags, until finally the buggies sank up to the axles, and Cobb’s coach, evidently getting into a rut, sank till all passengers had to camp on the roof. Oh! it was lovely country for ducks, and there we stayed till the rain stopped, and the ground began to get a bit harder; then the sunshine came out, and our girls got out and w_alked ahead. We, however, put in the time getting coach, buggies, and horses out of the clay. It was a hard job—no “44-hour” business about it, but we did it, and as we spat on our hands after we got things right, we felt so proud of our job that we felt we could have shifted the whole blooming ing earth if someone had sweetly asked us to do so —and gave us something to eat. However we jabbed the nags in, and began to move ahead to look for our girls, and incidentally look for something to eat. Nine miles ahead, as night began to fall, we found the ladies in an old deserted hut, where we slept that night. Next morning we woke early as we felt we were on the verge of starvation, even looking at one of the mokes with envious eyes. However, when we got out we found more trouble —as Cobb’s coach horses had got loose. We all helped to find these horses, and I can tell you there’s no fun chasing stray horses on an empty stomach. I don’t mean the horses were on an empty stomach, that is, to say,—l mean, —well you know what I mean. Well, we caught the horses, and again we struggled along, now fairly in the black soil country, where the soil was most affectionate and stuck to the buggy wheels closer than a poor relation tion sticks to a rich uncle, and through the black soil the poor nags pulled hard. In the afternoon we saw something white in the distance. We plugged ahead. That white thing opened out into a tent. We plugged harder. That white thing was a surveyor’s camp! Yes, they had plenty of tucker, and the “mutton and raw onions” of that night has ever since been to me a dream of delight! CHAPTER VII. OUR BOURKE ADVENTURES. Oh! that “mutton and raw onions” made a heavenly repast after our couple of days’ starvation. tion. I learned a lot that trip, and one big point was to ever afterwards have a big lump of sympathy for the chaps out-back, who, as my old late friend Harry Lawson aptly puts it, are:— —trampin’, trampin’, tra-a-ampin’, in flies an’ dust an’ heat, Or trampin’, trampin’, tra-a-ampin’ through mud an’ slush an’ sleet; In the meantime, owing to the mail coach being bogged, the mails for Bourke were a good deal behind time (just here I might prompt and say that late mails are not so new, as present-day growlers seem to fancy). Well, the late mails called for a buggy, which came from Bourke and went down the road and loaded up the letters and other fancy goods; and then back to Bourke it went and included our agent in the fancy goods. He went on to arrange for our first appearance, as we should have opened four days before. Saturday was now to be our opening night, and when we arrived in Bourke the town was packed with shearers, rouseabouts, sly-grog sellers, drinkers, non-drinkers, informers, repudiators, troopers, boosers, wowsers, squatters, those who squat because they do not want to work; and those who squat because they don’t need to; but there they were, crowded into Bourke waiting, as we thought, waiting to welcome “Australia’s great Juvenile Troupe of Troubadours.” Didn’t our chests swell, when we saw the crowd awaiting; and didn’t our heads also swell! Let me tell you we were not a bad company and well deserved the crowded town that we fancied wel- comed us. Amongst the company was the wonderful childdancer dancer and actress “Baby” Merrick, who to-day is the wife of Mr. Frank Walton, the much-esteemed late ex-Secretary of City Tattersall’s Club. The company also included Sammy McLean and Dick Matthews, who played star parts from their very childhood in leading Australasian theatres. Well, with expanded chests we strolled down the main streets of Bourke, smiling to the right and left at the many who had come to honor us. We used up nearly our whole stock of smiles until one of us expressed in a blushing sort of way, that “it was—er —very nice of them —er —coming into town to —er —do such honor to our young and humble selves.” And it was well we said “humble,” because when the party we spoke to fired at us: “What! we ain’t here for you, we’re all here for a big sly-grog case coming on,” well our chests dropped flat like the lid of a tin can, and as for our swelled heads, well, they almost .cracked in shrinking. We coughed a bit and tried to pass the incident over and make believe we had heard all about the sly-grog case almost before it started. Well that night the amateurs of Bourke were playing in aid of the hospital, I mean the financial proceeds were in aid of the hospital (for, as many people know, amateur performers, as a rule do put people in the hospital in a practical sense). These Bourke amateurs were not bad, and as our turn was not till the following night, I made up their faces and filled them with gags about “slygrog grog informers,” which practically brought down the house. Bourke gave us a good time, in fact it couldn’t have enough of us for a month. Everything and everybody was prosperous, the local hotel keepers had to pay £2O weekly to hire their hotels, which can now be had for about ten shillings, take it or leave it, and generally the latter. We liked Bourke folk and gave them “Struck Oil,” “Pinafore,” “William Tell,” “Pantomime,” and even “nigger show”; in fact, we could give anything thing wanted except Wagner, and at a stretch I believe, we could have had a go at his stuff if the encouragement was sufficiently strong. We had a lot of funny incidents during our stay in Bourke, one of the funniest being the adventure of Phil Isaacs, who to-day is well known as being connected with the Original Mont de Piete next the Tivoli Theatre, Sydney. In those early days Phil was the leading jeweller at Bourke, and as things were a bit prosperous, he thought he would have his window nicely decorated, ated, so he got a local artist, who was also sign painter and more often champion beer-shifter of Bourke, to come along and do the art work. The artist made a nice job of the name, “Phil Isaacs,” and was painting the word “jeweller” underneath, when he had no sooner done the first three letters, then a pal came along and asked him to “come an’ ’ave one”; and as he did not return to the job for weeks after, everybody used to smile at the sign “Phil Isaacs, Jew.”, and many pointed out there was no necessity accentuating that fact. No doubt Phil to-day will laugh at that incident of nearly forty years ago, but Phil had another incident in his career later on, which was without doubt just as funny. It appears that over Phil’s Mont de Piete offices, in Castlereagh Street, the Sydney Press Club had its offices, whilst on the upper floor was the office of Arthur Wood, undertaker. Everybody’s friend, J. F. Archibald, when editor of the “Bulletin,” happened pened to drift into the Press Club, and congratulated lated the journalists with being so finely situated, between a pawn shop and an undertaker. CHAPTER VIII. “The Very Same Dog.” It is interesting to note just here that by a strange coincidence I was thrown into touch with an old friend mentioned in a chapter of this story in the person of the highly-esteemed public gentleman, man, J. F. Flockart, who has held the office of President of the Commercial Travellers’ Association. tion. The incident happened at the farewell to Sir Joseph and Lady Cook at the National Club, where I was entertaining Flockart with some funny singsongs songs and amusing tales. He reminded me of the old incident of our theatrical party putting up at the little roadside hotel twenty-five miles from Cobar. It appears that in those days those associated ated with the stage were barred from pubs. I don’t mean being barred from the bar—as in that sacred quarter liquor is only served when they see the glint of the coin, but as for putting up for the night at such dens, the stage representatives—in plain English—were “not in it.” However, we were put up at that particular pub, but Friend Flockart informed me the other evening for the first time that it was a “put up job,” as he did the job, which consisted of his guaranteeing that we were respectable representatives of the Thespian art. Np doubt his recommendation on that occasion opened the eyes of the prejudiced publican who. no doubt, spread the report that Thespian people were respectable, notwithstanding the generally accepted opinion of those days, as it was common gag to say, “take in the clothes, girls, actors are coming,” and the great respect the stage representatives receive to-day from the public has no doubt been considerably built by Friend Flockart’s art’s recommendation. Now let us get back to our yarn. In our last chapter Phil Isaacs “held the stage” at Bourke. I mean not in the sense of his business as pawnbroker. At any rate at that time Phil had a great-sized pigeon house stuck in the sky on three poles about thirty feet high. The heat in Bourke was something rather high, in fact it kept a chap religious, as it brought forcibly to him that heat is no good to a chap alive or dead. At the time we were there, it was about 116 degrees in the shade. What it was in the sun, well hardly anyone was game to go to measure. Sleep was almost an impossibility with nights so hot. Phil Isaacs conceived a brilliant idea. I don’t knoAv whether it was to have a shorter trip to heaven in the event of any dangerous happenings, but he fixed up a bed in the big pigeon house, and by the means of a ladder he would gracefully retire to rest. He was up above the ground heat —and no doubt had sleepful evenings. One night, however, someone wanted a ladder so borrowed Phil’s. It may have been the painter, after he had a couple of heat-thirst quenchers, wanting the ladder to finish the window job referred ferred to in the last chapter. However, the ladder disappeared, but as Phil had gone aloft to slumber, it didn’t matter till the middle of the night; a great southerly storm came on after the terrific heat of the day. Phil awoke, as the lightning was terrific, and there was a chance of his “mountain home” getting first touch. He rushed for the ladder that wasn’t there, and his yells for help almost drowned the booms of thunder. Phil dropped the upper house business after that, and no doubt is going to stick to “terra-firma,” as he won’t forget the terror of his pigeon house, and he’ll be firmer on the ground. We made heaps of friends in Bourke, and one of them resolved to show practical proof of his esteem, so he lent us his two-horse sociable and driver for the last Sunday we stayed in the town. Yes, we were going to have a picnic, and by gosh! it was a picnic! We had refreshments with us, and the driver refreshed himself several times, so much so that before long the horses, by the erratic driving, ing, were going along the road zig-zag fashion from side to side, so that anyone would think the horses also had been refreshing with something stronger than water. We asked the driver to drive straight. “Right-©” said he. “I’ll show you some straight driving,” so he whipped them up and they broke every possible regulation as to speed of driving, the country passed by like the film of a cinema, until a tree round which the road turned was run into and we all got the shock of our lives. All crockery went smash and the sociable was a complete wreck. It seemed as if it had taken the bulk of the strong liquid and was completely down and out. Yes, it was a picnic, for we had to walk back. I tell that bit of history because of what happened pened to me in Walgett, the next town we were to open at. I hadn’t been in the town five minutes before a policeman came along and put his hand on my shoulder. “Good heavens, I thought, what have I done,” and my brain went at top speed back through my life to try and conjure up a murder, burglary, treason or some other crime. No, I had led a nice, good life. Ah! the speed of my brain travelling brought to my mind the speed of that Bourke sociable. Perhaps the owner was having me arrested for the damage. Oh, law, that may mean years and years of monotonous gaol life! Then the policeman (he was Governor of Walgett Gaol) broke the awful train of thought, with saying: ing: “Hullo, Bob, don’t you remember me, we met at a party at Mrs. Cohen’s.” I didn’t remember him, in fact, but I smiled a smile that nearly split my face. “Anything doing here?” I said, trying to change the subject. “Oh, not much,” said he, “we arrested a chap this morning for stealing a dog.” “Poor chap,” I thought, as I remembered that a minute before I was afraid I’d be in his place. “I’d like to see him,” I said. So into the gaol yard I was ushered. It was an awful wall of half-saplings stuck in the ground. I saw the prisoner. Poor chap, he was just a road-walker, was humping bluey from West Bourke when some way out a dog chummed up with him and followed him into Walgett. He was a godsend to the Walgett policeman. The people had been so respectable that the gaol was getting rusty. The policeman had to do something thing or the people would say the police was unnecessary, necessary, in those days of taxation, and all that sort of talk of street-corner politicians, so the policeman when he saw “poor old Billo” coming along with the dog, he asked him with much anxiety, “was it his dog?” and when Billo said “No,” he evidently said “Thank God!” and with much e nthusiasm gripped Billo and gave him a home in the local gaol. “They’re treating me all right,” said Billo to me, but I want to move along and strike Bathurst before Christmas.” “What sort of dog was it followed you?” I asked him. I remembered seeing a faithful-looking mongrel waiting outside the gaol and plaintively peeping through the cracks in the saplings to get a look at the good old chum he met on the road. “Was it a bony, ginger-colored mongrel, a dog no one would waste energy to kick, let alone to steal?” “Yes, it’s the very same dog,” Billo said, with a sort of yearning in his voice as if he felt the affection of the animal in waiting for him. The incident of “that very same dog,” I revived years after in the Lyceum Theatre in “Red Riding House,” with Robert Courtneidge and Alice Learmar. mar. I was given a good part as Simple Simon and I used the gag of “the very same dawg,” and to my surprise and delight it was taken up and used around Sydney and round Melbourne the following lowing year and even to-day, over a quarter of a century after the affair, I often have that gag passed to me, “What about ‘the very same dog,' Bob?” In fact the artist who has headed these notes with a sketch has put the dog in the picture. Poor old “dawg.” I can’t lose him. CHAPTER IX. Walgett Whimsicalities. Walgett was quiet, not only showing its quietness in a lack of prisoners for the local policeman to get busy on, as mentioned in the last chapter, but also showing in a lack of audiences for our poor comedy-company; at least, that is what we thought when, after the doors of the hall in which we were appearing, had been open for some time. One of us, a bit braver than the rest, at 8 o’clock pulled aside the drop-curtain to peep out at the expected crowd, when all that was seen was the manager, Teddy McLean, sitting in the front row with folded arms and a heavy frown. It was a hot night, and Teddy was annoyed as the curtain went up to time. Teddy said: “Well, if nobody comes in, you will have to play to me.” We thought it waste of energy, so we talked it over behind a scene, and wasted about half an hour arguing the point, when one of the boys went out and rushed back with a wild look, and shouted “Why, the place is packed.” And so it was. • Being a hot night, as I said before, everybody on their way to the hall, called in to see Thompson of the local pub., and after a few refreshers came along and packed our place. They were all in a jolly frame of mind and body, so that every one of our jokes went home with a bang. The audience had thought as there was nothing else to do in that quiet place, they might as well come along to help “the poor cows,” but they were so surprised with the show we gave them, that it was not over till early next morning on account of the numerous encores, and what time the audience got home that day can well be conjectured, as they followed us home to Thompson’s, and made him bring out all his champagne, and, yes, they gave us the time of our life! The funniest part of the affair was that they came every night after that, when we determined to give them a different show each time from Nigger- Minstrel to “Struck Oil” and pantomime, and as the early morning triumphal march to our hotel took place after each performance, we remembered Walgett for many a day after. The Walgett folks were more than generous to us, as they unintentionally entertained us at what was described as a “Great Shearers’ Concert in aid of the Local Hospital.” On the day the concert happened it had rained heavily, and as the soil was of that black variety that sticks closer than a bad mother-in-law, the great audience of shearers that packed the place had their boots chock-a-block with black soil that a lso lined the floor. There were two rival camps of shearers who supplied, what they thought, was the best talent ln each, but as each performer came on, his rival camp evidently didn’t appreciate his “Sim-Reeves” like vocalism, and simply criticised him by picking lumps of black soil from their boots and shying at him. It was looked upon by the performers as cowardice to retire, so it was funny to see each one as he was butchering “Let Me Like a Soldier Fall,” to be at the same time dodging lumps of black soil, just as if he were a boxer, dodging an opponent’s nent’s biffs. As each performer came out, the same practical criticism was given by the other side, until when the stage performance had finished, the two sections of the audience, evidently worked up to a fever heat, began pelting each other, giving a definite significance to the advertisement that the whole show was “in aid of the local hospital,” which no doubt next day was particularly busy. We left Walgett for Brewarrina, but also left one of our party, Sammy McLean, w r ho preferred clerical work in town to our troubadouring in all kinds of weather and conditions. I mention Sammy just here, as he figured in a remarkable scene later on. We reached Brewarrina, which is about thirty miles from Walgett, and had some fun in passing through an aboriginal camp, where the short-skirt fashion of to-day seemed to be the fad of the chief officers of the aborigines of those days, whose sole clobber was a torn shirt and his modesty. It was funny to see him proudly march into his camp with a pile of ’possums on his head for the evening meal. He was received by “King Billy,” who in addition to a shirt that had seen better days, wore a halfmoon moon brass plate with “King Billy” engraved on it. We paid homage to Billy by giving him a cake of ’bacca. Brewarrina saw us open in the dining-room of the Royal Hotel, where we had to wait till the eaters had departed, and we had a packed room; in fact, packed so tightly that we had only a few feet upon which to play. There being no stage, we had to act on the floor, so that one can imagine our discomfort, yet the audience didn’t seem to mind it. The fact the pantomime we played, “William Tell,” well, told us in the big amounts we received. ? ? ? When I was in Brewarrina I had a queer experience. ence. I wanted a shave, so was shown to the local barber. He flapped me down into a chair, splashed my jaw with water, sfnd, without any towel or cloth, began to drag the hair out by the roots by means of a razor that had seen better days. After much torture I said: “You’re finished?” “No, I’m not,” he replied, with a sort of growl. I said, “Well, I am,” and I tried to get up. He was a big, bulky fellow, and he poked me back, and held me in the chair by the head till he went over my poor jaw with his weapon. He turned aside to wet it, and I jumped out of the chair, left his fee on it, and joined my company with an awfully sore face. “Been to have a shave, Bob?” said a local inhabitant. “Yes,” I said, “I went to your local barber, and he nearly killed me.” “Oh, he’s alright,” said the local chap, “he is only the local butcher, and he only has fits sometimes I” I’ve shaved myself ever since. At Brewarrina there was a travelling circus that tempted our Jimmy Matthews from us. We missed him, and also missed Sammy McLean, who had left us at Walgett, and not till some years after did I hear about either of them. It appears that a weary, whiskered and tattered party was slowly tramping down from Tamworth to Sydney. It was Sammy McLean of our happy troubadour days; and when near Scone, as darkness ness had come on, he begged of a local party for a place to sleep for the night. “Down in that hut,” said the local party, “you can doss; another bloke went in there before it got dark.” So the night passed on. Next morning Sammy went down to the adjacent creek to have a wash and a drink. There was someone there before him. It was the earlier dosser from the hut. They washed together, as there is a fraternal spirit among road-swaggies that is in no other rank. One had a drying-rag, and he passed it on to the other. He looked at him for a moment. The other looked back; there was a fretting of eyebrows and a moment of thought. Then a shout: “You’re Sammy McLean, I’ll swear,” said one. “Y-Yes, and —bless my soul—if you ain’t Jimmy Matthews,” and the hearty hand grip they gave told tales of woe and misfortune that went back to their merry troubadour days they left in the long past. CHAPTER X. A Hot Time. We had a good time at Brewarrina, and stayed over our proper time, so much so that we had to make up for lost time by taking a short cut across country towards Narrabri. Our track led us to the Barwon River, which being in the dry season, was a series of ponds and flats, with steep and treacherous ous banks. As we were crossing, I began to crack a joke about “flats” and “banks”; how one has an effect on the other in business life, but the way across the river bed was so rocky that it took all my brain-energy to give me sufficient mental exercise to ascertain how to keep my seat. Getting across was bad enough, but the climb up the other bank was so steep that all our party was jumbled up in a heap, so that you could not tell the other from which. On the top of the bank we got out to count up, and found we had lost our pianist. As he was an absolute necessity to our work, we started to search for him, and found him at the bottom of the bank asleep. He had simply rolled off into the sand and lay at the foot of the hill as if he had “passed out.” The fact of the matter was he was always asleep except at mealtimes and when he had to play. He was a funny type —long and thin —but always with an eye to the funny side of life. He was a Dane, and his name was Lohse, Whenever he’d be asked his name, being a pianist, he would say: ‘Tm Low C on the piano,” and he’d laugh for about ten minutes after the hearer had taken about five to understand what he was driving at. However, we were off again on our way to Narrabri, stopping for lunch at a little place called Pilliga. During the meal time, the coach-driver took off one of the wheels to grease it, letting the axle rest on a box. After we had our lunch, we came out and found the coach-driver wet with perspiration, trying to put the wheel back again; when, in the confusion, the box was worked away from the axle, the coach fell, and a big lump of humanity rolled from the top and flattened out the poor mechanic at the wheel. It was sleepy Lohse once again, who had taken advantage of the stop of the coach to go off into a sound snooze, and as he rolled off the coach on to the coach-driver, the language was highly colored and mixed—both English and Danish. However, we all got together, and did our bit to put the wheel on, and were about to be on our track again, when a squatter came up to us and asked for a lift in to Narrabri. We let him join the party, and away we went, over the sandy plains, with the summer sun scorching like the roof of a baker’s oven. It WAS hot. People can talk about the “hot time” politicians have in their assemblies, or aldermen have in their wild suburban meetings, but there’s nothing as hot as creeping along the sun-blistered sandy surface of the western desert between Pilliga and Narrabri. We felt the heat somewhat acutely. Our tongues began to swell and we hoped to Heaven we would strike a farm or something where we could get a drink. We did strike something. It was a homel We rushed it—even the horses seemed to fancy there must be water there, but when we got there We found the place had been deserted, and all we found were two beer casks filled with what at one time had been water, but were now half full of a green, slimy liquid that we, in our frenzied thirsts, rushed. The squatter was evidently particularly thirsty, for he seemed like a maniac and drank the water —drank deeply of it, so much so that he collapsed in the coach after five miles had gone. We thought he had passed away, but one of the ladies of our party —Miss Nita Franks—luckily, found in her belongings some whisky, the magic touch of which so revived the squatter that before we reached Narrabri he was his old self again! [Of course, I know in disclosing this anecdote, that I will be rushed by whisky proprietors as to what brand was on the bottle, but any advertising man interested in the matter should see the advertising tising agent of this journal without disturbing the trail of my story.] We found Narrabri packed with people for the races. It was evidently to get there as speedily as possible that the squatter borrowed a lift from us, also, perhaps, to save all his money so that he could invest it on some would-be lucky horse. Just here I might point out that, riding in a race, one of the jockeys fell and broke his collarbone, but Dick Morris, who was then editor of the “Walgett Mail,” and whose horse the jockey was riding, had the jockey looked after, and paid him for over a year after. Dick, by the way, was afterwards, wards, along with my old friend, Sam Johnston, a well-known city advertising man, on the Australian “Star,” now the Sydney “Sun,” and the last I saw of him was way up in Bundaberg, where he was inspecting canefields. We had a good time at Narrabri, with packed houses and packed pockets, and left as happy as larks to reach Gunnedah, practically singing all the way. “Everything in the garden was lovely,” but we struck a surprise at Gunnedah. We had been well announced, and Gunnedah folks seemed to be a prosperous lot, so on our first night we expected to see the theatre crowded. At the time for opening, the only individual in the audience was a youngster, who had probably crept through a window. There was, however, a good crowd outside, but none of them would venture to come in. We put our heads together, and resolved to all act as “boosters,” but although we made remarkable declarations as to the wonderful ful exhibition that was to be seen inside—“ Shakespeare espeare in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these,” —that the terpsichorean effect that we were to give them had never been seen this side of the days of ancient Babylon—the crowd stood stiff and cold. Finally we decided to let them in for nothing, but even then they would not venture! It appears that Gunnedah had been inflicted with some theatrical company that had proved an utter fraud. It had been widely boomed, and Gunnedah rushed it, but were disappointed and were evidently of opinion that we were an echo of the previous theatrical crowd. However, I determined to get at least one in, so I went up to a burly chap with wiry hair sticking out all over his face, who was smoking a pipe nearly the size of his hat. I threw out my chest and posed in front of him. I felt like George Rignold in “Henry V.” I cleared my throat, put my left hand on my chest, and made an oration. I mentioned that, in order to educate Gunnedahians ians as to the stage possibilities, I was very proud to say that he was to be the selected one from Gunnedah to lead the crowd, free of charge, through the majestic portals of the barn that stood for the theatre. I believe I made the best speech of my life. He listened to me for a long time, unbending, stiff and stern. I was tired. I, however, had evidently dently touched his heart, for he came towards me as I was out of breath and patted me on the shoulder with a pat that almost knocked me out: “I like to hear you talk,” he said, “and I will tell you what I will do. I’ll go in if you shout!” CHAPTER XI. The Rent. We went ahead with our performance at Gunnedah, dah, and the dead-heads of the first performance were so pleased that they acted as walking advertisements tisements for us, giving us five other nights of packed houses. We might have been going on there yet, only our manager, McLean, sued Cobb and Co., the coach proprietors, because their coach in taking us to Bourke arrived a couple of days late, so that we missed two nights’ performances, with the advertising tising and the company upkeep extra expense; McLean therefore went for £2OO damages. The case meant us all coming back to Sydney, and we came up to the city with expanded chests, ready to take our places in the Supreme Court as necessary factors in the glorious administration of our civic law. Some of us spent a day or two in the Public Library hunting for legal names that actors would use. I remember I spent a night and a half with a wet towel round my head writing the great speech I intended delivering in court. I was going to give Shakespeare a bad doing. Shylock’s soliloquy wouldn’t be in it; in fact, I gave my proposed oration before the looking-glass a couple of times until I was quite satisfied with myself, and next morning I was ready to stalk out with one hand in my breast and the other swinging to the breeze, when just as I was about to proudly stalk to the court who should block the way, but Manager McLean! He came up with a smile that nearly cracked his cheeks, and slapped me on the shoulder. “It’s all right, Bob,” said he, “Cobb and Co. have paid up in full all I asked them.” I was in a sense disappointed, for my great oration would not now have its opportunity, so I thought out most what I remembered of it and tried to turn it round for an appeal to McLean, that as he had got two hundred golden sovereigns for the asking, that it wouldn't be a bad idea to split it up amongst the company. I really made a splendid speech about it, bringing in the sweetness of our fraternity, and how we all had faced the trials and troubles of the far west and how beautiful ful it would be if we also faced the joy and happiness ness of some of the cash that had been so easily won. • McLean said: “Yes, Bob,” and my heart beat like the knob of an electric alarm clock. I thought it would be between £lO and £l5 each —but my heart stopped beating and my jaw dropped with a thud when he gave us one pound. He thus showed the Scotch trait that we never expected. Ever since then I have not been quite so enthusiastic astic over big-heartedness in Scots, although some of my most liberal and intimate friends have come from the bonnie land. The rest of the company got as much as I got from McLean, and as their expectations got just as big a knock, we all left him to have the best time he could on the bit of a pile he got from Cobb. That meant a lot of us out of work, and as there were many others in the same condition we formed amongst ourselves a sort of “Community Compary,” pary,” to open where the Tivoli now is, it being then called the Victoria Hall. Our company was a big concern of about thirty perrormers, and was a big jump from our previous pany of ten. It might also be pointed out that the company was a sort of socialistic concern, that is, all had equal shares in whatever profits would be made. Needless to say, as all were equal, there was a lovely rush for every man to play the hero and every girl to play the heroine. This stuck matters up tor some time; in fact, it tended to break up the whole affair. At last, after a heap of anxiety, persuasion, and other such things, we decided to vote for hero and heroine, and to pick the other parts out of a hat. Amongst the company was Mr. Frank Walton, late Secretary to City Tattersall’s Club. He played the villain. Nobody else would touch that part; so Frank, with his big - heart, took it up. The play was called “Ten Nights in a Bar Room/’ One may perhaps say “no wonder everybody wanted to be the hero,” because the title of the play suggested gested free drinks and all the joys appertaining thereto. My part was the good young man whom the villain was to attempt to lead astray. My resistance to his wicked temptations and my grand battling for the glories of truth and justice were to be the great features of the play. I entered from the right, and took my place at the side of a small table facing the audience. I was dressed very nicely in light tweed. I had hired the suit for the play, and it fitted me as if it was made to order, only a bit short and a bit tight. As I mentioned, I sat facing the audience and ruminating ing on the wickedness of the dastardly villain. He then entered from the left and sauntered heavily across the stage, flopping into a chair at the other side of the table. He frowned heavily at me, pulled his moustache almost off. I stood up and dramatically exclaimed: “You wretched villain —er —you have—er—followed me like a bloodhound,” hound,” and as I pointed my finger at him with all the scorn I could raise, it made a fine situation that got a good clap from the audience. He quietly drew a revolver, I hurriedly gripped it. With his other hand he rapidly drew a long knife, and in a moment we were at grips. It was a heart-rending affair. I got him down. The audience cheered in their excitement. We struggled in a death grip. He tried to crush me to the floor, which, by the way, was a wooden one and very uneven. I was being crushed to the floor by the brutal strength of the villain, and ;n a moment I was forced to sitting on the floor and something ripped. I was worked up to the excitement ment of the audience. The cruel villain held his knife between his teeth, and his hands clenched, and was about to grip my throat. It was a thrilling situation. I slipped from his grip—grabbed his revolver —and as I swiftly rose from the floor, the villain, cowed, stood at the back of the stage. With a triumphant air I turned on him and pointed the revolver; as I did so my back was turned towards the audience, which up to then was terrified with the tragic situation, but a scream of wild laughter roared out as the curtain came slowly down. I could not understand the laughter till I afterwards wards found that the wooden, uneven floor held a rusty nail that had been busy where I sat. We had a six-night season, the second night being packed, no doubt thinking the rusty nail affair was part of the performance, but the audience seemed disappointed as we had got a carpenter to remove all rusty nails previously, and at the end of the week we investigated the takings and found how much we had earned for the week, and on allocation tion we got five shillings each! But we paid the rent, although we, for a long time after, concluded that it was the “rent” of the first night that spoilt the show. Five shillings as the hero’s fees was not much good to me, so I left that party and was asked by the Howard family to join them in a country tour with Robertson’s great play, “School.” I thought that was rather too high class for the country folk where we intended going, so I suggested gested that we travel on “Struck Oil.” Howard, after some persuasion, thought as I did, and so the “Struck Oil” company went out to win laurels, and cash, if possible. We decided to open at Sunny Corner. The name seemed inviting, and silver mining was in full swing there at the time. Some visiting speculators were there at the time, so they strolled in, saw the performance, formance, and as they were giving a champagne supper to the principal residents that evening, they invited the Howard Company to join up. It was a jolly party, and two persons there took my special fancy, one was a jovial chap named Robert Sands. He was afterwards one of the big men of Australia’s greatest printing firm, John Sands, Limited. The other special individual at that champagne supper was a very popular clergyman from Oberon. He was full of fun and merry sayings, and we felt he was a real fine, jolly chap, even though before he left he went amongst all present at the height of jollification and with a smile of satisfaction booked from practically everyone there a donation for his new church building. I never forgot those two jolly individuals, for one was spreading good ideas from a pulpit, and the other has since been spreading good ideas from a printing press, I was going to make a joke about the Sands of Time, but I’ll let you off with this old song:— Behind the Scenes. When but a little boy, it was my greatest joy To visit the theatre, I’ll admit; How happy then I’d be the performances to see, When seated in the gallery or pit. I thought that all was real that the curtain would reveal, But I soon found what acting really means; So began to understand, though in front it may be grand, It’s very different just “behind the scenes.” The comedian on the stage who is causing lots of fun His heart may yet hang heavy in his breast; Whilst the man who plays the king, though it seems a curious thing, In private may be very poorly dressed. And the ladies, all so fair, who go flying through the air, And who look like little angels, yet instead They often have to roam into a wretched home, And often-times go supperless to bed. Whilst those who play the parts of strong men with stony hearts May look as if their tempers were like fiends’; If you saw them when away, you would very likely say They’re the mildest-looking men “behind the scenes. I've no doubt you are aware that there’s many a married pair Who in public seem so tender and so kind; But could you only see them in their privacy, A different state of things no doubt you’d find. There’s the actress who’s the rage with her lover on the stage, They look as if they both were in their teens; Though often when you hear each one call the other “dear,” They hate each other just “behind the scenes.” CHAPTER XII. Pattie Browne. Well, we left Sunny Corner, and went to Orange, where we had little luck; in fact, the attendances were rather meagre, and so it was a sort of a “Sour Orange” to us. A little incident will show how sour the folks were. We were about to start the show one night when there was but one solitary person in the house at 8 o’clock. We decided to wait a little while before the curtain went up, in the hope that a few more would stray in, and so give us some encouragement, for there’s little fun acting to one individual, for you see he may go to sleep, and all our histrionic efforts would be wasted. At five minutes past eight a second person came in, and, though the rest of the theatre was empty, he considered the single chap was sitting in the seat that he wanted, so he demanded he should get out of it. “That’s my seat,” he roared at him. The first chap didn’t like that sort of demand, considering the rest of the theatre was empty, and so he refused to get up. Then the second chap got nasty and went for him as the curtain rose. We didn’t act, however; we left it to the two struggling chaps on the floor below; so we watched them as they wrestled away; in fact, the whole company came on the stage and got a heap of fun watching the two gladiators punching each other and rolling over the floor—now one up, now the other. It was a great sight. We did enjoy it, and after about twenty minutes they both were dead tired, got up with black eyes, sore noses, and torn clothes, shook hands, and went out to the nearest pub. Oh, yes, we did enjoy it, but too many nights of that sort of fun didn’t pay, so we left that town as soon as we could. On our journey we decided, instead of coming on to Sydney hard up, to try and make a hit at Richmond. mond. As we were playing “Margaret Catchpole” and “Oliver Twist,” and we heard that Margaret Catchpole’s grave was at Richmond, hence we thought it would be a good ad. for us. Richmond folk, however, must have had enough of Margaret Catchpole, so they didn’t bother to hear what we had to say about her. That left us rather hard up, so we dropped “Margaret” at Windsor, and stuck on “Struck Oil,” which helped us to strike oil just as “East Lynne” is the last hope of every manager who is at his wits’ end what to produce to get something to pay the rent. We, however, didn’t get a fortune at Windsor, but managed to raise sufficient to get us back to Sydney, and as I was mighty short, the manager owing me several pounds, it was a case of a change from “Oliver Twist” to “All of a Twist.” After a little while waiting, in Sydney, like Micawber, “for something to turn up,” I found that pretty little Pattie Browne was fixing up a company, pany, in which she gave me a part. There was a fine collection of good old chaps—Bill South, Sam Howard, and George Collier. The new company, which was to star at the Victoria Hall (now the Tivoli), was widely advertised, and so nearly half of Sydney wanted to appear in it, at least so it seemed to us. We were a bit anxious to stop the pestering march of would-be actors, so we arranged a scheme to keep them away. When one would come along we’d welcome him and put him on the stage, and ask him to show what he could do. He would immediately begin a wild oration, extending one arm to its length, with the other stuck in the breast of his waistcoat. We took the precaution to place him over the trap-door, and just as he was in the middle of the declamation a crash of tins would fall from the flies to the stage; at the same time'the trap door would flop and the terrified elocutionist would fall into the cellar, where one of the boys would set the red fire alight. It would flare up, and the frightened chap would notice the open door to a passage at the side of the theatre, and he’d run for his life. After we did this on a few we were not so troubled with would-be Irvings. The Pattie Browne season was rather good, for we all liked Pattie and acted our very souls to give her every success. Pattie was a Sydney girl, and, with her mate, Bella Camb, was originally a show-girl in a pantomime mime at the old Queen’s Theatre as Sally Browne. When Sally got popular, she asked us not to call her “Sally” but to call her “Pattie,” and, as she always “took the cake,” we never hesitated. When I finished with Pattie Browne’s show I got an invite from John L. Hall from Adelaide to do harlequin in a pantomime with Tilly Lake as Columbine, So off to Adelaide we went on the old “South Australia.” We fancied ourselves somewhat, what, and were sure we’d be the stars of the trip. However, it is always difficult to gauge the taste of the public, and on that trip We were nowhere in popularity, as the sister of Ned Kelly, the bushranger ranger (Kate Kelly), was also a passenger, and the publicity she had got over the doings of her brother’s bushranging, culminating in the hanging of her brother, Ned, made her the centre of attrac- tion, so that “the beautiful Tilly Lake, the dainty Columbine, and the clever Robert Watson, the popular harlequin,” who had been sent for from over one thousand miles, were nowhere. Kate Kelly, however, was no fool. She took all this publicity and made as much of it as she could, so that when she reached Adelaide she was a worldwonder, wonder, and got an engagement as a barmaid at a local hotel at a highly remunerative salary. Fellows would come in, not so much to ease the thirst of their throats, as to ease the hunger of their eyes. Adelaide was a hot spot. We had struck it in mid-summer, and dancing was hard work. Still, we made good, as the show had a lot of good stars in it, including Herbert Flemming, who afterwards became famous in his theatrical enterprises, bringing ing out the great monologue entertainer, Melb-B- Spur and other stars. After a five weeks’ run the panto, ended, and I wanted to get back to Sydney, as the hot weather kept up, and I didn’t care for it too much, as it reminded me of the place where those people go to who go to the theatre “on the nod,” and so don’t pay. The steamer, however, was packed. No berths were available, so I decided to sleep on deck. I, however, wanted something to make myself comfortable. fortable. I, therefore, asked the cook to let me have the use of a blanket for the trip, hence the first night I had a comfortable snooze in the bright, dreamy moonlight. The next night, however, the blanket had disappeared from where I had placed it, and I had to sleep on a bare seat. I found afterwards wards that the cook was also a bit of an engineer, as he made that blanket a rather excellent source of revenue winning, for he let someone else pay him for the use of it for the trip, and it went to someone else tile third night. I always remember that cook as a financial expert, and when later on Joe Cook became Federal Treasurer, I often wondered for a bit if he were the same chap. CHAPTER XIII. “A Gay Time.” Shortly after, J, C. Williamson and Gurner sent for me to take a part in the pantomime, in which I acted as “Weeping Willie.” The theatre had been renovated, and extrh money was being charged. The former pit that was at the back of the stalls was done away with, and the whole ground floor area of the Sydney Theatre Royal was made one "stalls” area. The company that produced the panto, was a striking one, embracing Emma Chambers, who had been indented from London for the part of “Boy Blue,” the principal boy. When the prices were raised, as pointed out, the public got annoyed, and only came in meagre patches. The old price of a shilling jumped to three shillings as the price for the stalls; hence the panto, was a financial failure. However, Williamson brought Carrie Swain along from America and fixed up a company, for which I was surprised to find myself hooked up by a cab and carried along almost before I knew where I was, to play the lover and leading comedian in “The Tomboy.” I evidently did it properly, for a double encore was given at the fall of the curtain, in which I was pulled in as being responsible for at least half of it. I had a good deal of fun during the run of that play. When I would leave the theatre, a mate of wine, Joe Wangeheim, would come along the road with me, and before the Cathedral of St. Mary’s he would chum up with an old blind fiddler and hum Wy principal song to him, “I’m going to get married uext Sunday,” and before long the old musician would be jerking the tune just as if he’d been playin in f» it for ages past. After “The Tomboy” had a good run I got a Wessage from the Brough & Boucicault Company at Adelaide to come across to play in “Jack Shop- Pard.” It was a great company, and included Fanny “Teddy” Royce, Emma Temple, Bessie Major and William Ward, the great dancer. “The Forty Thieves” followed, in which I had to play Hassan, the Captain of the Thieves. I only got a short notice, which meant staying in my room a couple of nights with a cold water bandage on my head as I stuffed it with the songs and gags of the Captain. However, the piece went well, and wor? us many invitations, including one from a gentle man introducing himself as Mr. Lee, a partner of Marjeroni and Wilson, who were big theatrical people in Melbourne. Mr. Lee chummed up with our treasurer, Harold Ashton, and when the latter told him we were going to have a big regatta next day on Lake Torrens, and that all the ladies and gents, of the company were to have a great day, he smiled and rubbed his hands with much joy. Amongst other events was to be the sculling championship amongst the male and female picnickers. nickers. It was an awful pull, but we were cheered up by our new friend, Mr, Lee. He made himself particularly merry, just as if the whole affair was his; in fact, we all looked upon him as a merry millionaire. He told me to tell the ladies that for whoever won the race he had ordered bangles and watches and other dainty presents as trophies, which he afterwards presented with much high-sounding talk, winding up with a general invitation to all ladies and gentlemen to join him in a jolly champagne pagne and oyster supper at the Prince Alfred Hotel, King William Street, Adelaide. Oh! it was a great night, and a great crowd; in fact, Lee had something like two hundred enjoying his kind hospitality. He was merry, and we determined to toast his health as soon as the liquor went round. Then we couldn’t say too much about him. He was modest, ajid slipped into a side room. We, however, went on saying nice things about him until the whole of the champagne had been swallowed. Then we continued saying nice things about him, about ourselves selves and about everyone else we knew and didn’t know. Oh, it was a wonderful time! We wondered why more champagne wasn’t forthcoming, so we took it as a hint to go home, as we had already consumed quite a flood of expensive sive liquor with our oysters. Some of us went into an adjoining room to get our hats, and found our friend Lee with boxes of choice cigars with which he filled our pockets, and sent us home bright and gay. It seemed a long journey home that night, with ourselves full of cigars and other things (not counting the oysters and champagne), and when we reached our hotel, which was all in darkness, we had to climb the verandah posts and get onto the upper balcony, find a convenient door, and down the dark stairway to let the ladies in. Oh! it was a great night, and didn’t we sleep after it all, dreaming nice things of our big-hearted friend Lee! Oh! yes, we dreamed a lot about it, but we didn’t dream of the awful reaction that was to happen next morning. It breaks my heart to have to confess it, even at this long period, for let me whisper gently that “Lee —was —a —bad—egg!” It appears he had called upon the landlord who provided the sumptuous banquet, and had filled him with some wondrous stories of wealth, and so much did he work into the soft heart of that landlord, that the latter even lent him his dress suit for the evening! and now that landlord was looking for that dress suit, and the man who wore it! It was a long, lonely look, but there he stood, at the theatre asking us where had Lee got to, as he hadn’t paid for the spree of the previous evening. Not for the cigars, not for the champagne—no, for nothing at all. We explained we had only known Lee that day, and couldn’t give the landlord any idea of where “the man who shouted” had got to. However, before we “went on” that night, Detective Dualey brought along a book of photos of criminals, and asked did we recognise anyone in it. I was the first to answer, and pointed out, with my eyes starting out of my head, a smiling face, for blest if it wasn’t our generous friend Leel It appears he had somehow got out of gaol, where he’d been located as a notorious criminal. He slipped out of keeping, and gave us a good time, made a splendid haul at the principal jewellers, and won the hearts of all the ladies, to whom he presented the stolen jewellery, slipped from the landlord without paying him, and in a day or two inadvertently slipped into the grip of the police again. The ladies, when they ascertained that the jewellery presented to them had been stolen, also slipped —down to the jewellers with the presents Lee had presented them with. So the whole affair was a slipping, of which the principal slipper, Lee, ultimately found his outside path too slippery, and slipped into safe custody again. CHAPTER XIV. It was an interesting procession of the actresses marching down to the police court to return the bangles, brooches, watches and bracelets that had been presented to them by Lee, but it was felt it was better to return the gold bracelets instead of having to wear steel ones. However, we saw the last act of the comedy with Lee in the prisoner’s dock. He looked particularly jovial in the dock, in a dainty overcoat he had stolen to hide his evening dress, and as he stood there in the dock he threw sundry winks at the pretty girls whose curiosity had brought them to see the last of the chappie who made presents to them, and the cold up-nosed look they gave him in return would have frozen anyone who didn’t have such a nerve. However, Lee was taken back to gaol, where his merry beak didn’t matter much in the long sentence he was undergoing. going. Shortly after this I received a note from J. C. Williamson in Melbourne to come across and join up in a production called “The Streets of London.” I was with a great company, including George Anson, Phil Beck, H. H. Vincent, Oily Derving, Frank Cates, Captain de Burgh, Isabel Morris, Patty Browne and Edowin Bryer. This was in August, 1887. I had a good time in this play, although I had to work hard; in fact, I had two parts. One was that I was Dan, son of the Puffy Jones the Pieman, who was Anson. One scene that used to take the fancy of the audience was the second scene in Puffy’s home, where we all sat round the table eating pies. It was funny to see the audience roaring with laughter as we ate the pies, my part being particularly amusing to the audience because I ate more pies than anyone else. The fact of the matter was they were real good hot pies bought by the property man just before the opening of the play, and in order to get through my pile of pies I ate very little else during the day. You can understand I went for those pies with considerable siderable avidity; and how the audience roaredwhen when I ventured on my fourth pie. Strange that simple things like that took the fancy of an audience. ence. I have seen the same thing in many plays; just shout the commonplace on the stage, and the audience will roar. One chap may accidentally tear his pants in real life, and the people who see it won’t think it funny; but let him tear his pants on the stage and it makes a scream of laughter. It is the simple things that are funny after all, and one doesn’t wonder at Charlie Chaplin just slipping on a banana skin and causing a scream. Well, I didn’t mind the audience enjoying my eating the pies, for I enjoyed that part myself. The part I had to work hard on was helping Williamson. He was leading character—“ Badger sort of Dick Swiveller, and as he was manager of the show and was almost overwhelmed with the business side he had to “wing” the part, hence didn’t know it very well. He therefore picked on me to prompt him from the side or whatever part of the stage he happened to be, and by gosh, it was a tidy part I had. First he would be making a declaration on the left side of the stage, and I’d be giving him the start of the sentences; then he’d suddenly cross the stage, and this poor devil had to fly around the back scenery and jump over supporting props to be ready for him on the right side, and as he was pretty active, I got enough exercise dashing from one side to another to digest all the pies that I ate in a scene or two before. It was in this piece that the “big fire scene” was first introduced to any great size in Australia, and it took well, particularly as we had a real fireengine engine and horses in that scene. A fire-engine and horses are interesting enough in the street, but on ‘he stage, bless my soul, they created a sensation, ~>ecially when the hose was run out to put out fire that never burned! How people used to cheer this fire business, and when the hero’s home would crash to the stage through its apparent burning, ing, how the crowd roared! It is hard to explain this love of the audience for this scene. It seems the same sort of appreciation that the average crowd has for the sensational. It seemed the same sort of interest that was evinced for Kate Kelly when she journeyed to Adelaide a couple of months before. However, that fire scene was one of the best things that cheered the audience, ence, though it was one of the worst scenes so far as actors were concerned, for all of us came on in that scene; in fact, in order to make as great a crowd as possible, we used to run in on to the stage any stragglers in the adjoining lane. But the stragglers never came in twice, for they got what we got every night—the fumes from the red fire, being of a gaseous sulphuric nature, almost choked us, and so we hated that scene with the hardest hate we could catch, and were mighty glad when the hero would dash through the sulphuric fumes in the glare of the red fires and save the important documents, holding them aloft, as the curtain came down amidst the wild cheers of the excited audience. Oh, yes, that play took on, and gave Williamson the tip for sensational stuff that afterwards made his fortune. CHAPTER XV. When the sensational play was ended, Janet Achurch engaged me as her comedian for her Ibsen and other problem plays, including “The Doll’s House” and “Camille.” The latter was a wonderful affair, and Janet made a remarkable study of her part. She represented the questionable type of women, and kept a house of peculiar morals, if any. Armand Duval, represented by Herbert Flemming, was a young chap visiting that house, but fell in love with her and she fell in love with him. She, knowing what her type meant in comparison with Armand’s, although she loved him so deeply, kept her affection secret from him, although Armand earnestly pleaded for her heart. Armand’s father, however, heard of his son’s affection, and knowing Camille’s type was not of a class suitable for his son, pleaded as a father only can to her to tell the son plainly it was not for him to expect her affection, tion, although it broke her heart to say so. Armand then left her, dejected, and went out into the world. Time passed, and Camille’s health began to weaken. The fast life of her early days and the heart-parting with Armand brought on consumption. tion. She knew her end was near, and she sent for Armand to look once upon his face, and ask his pardon for her hypocrisy in telling him she never loved him, for her heart was ever his, although she felt it was for him that they parted as they did. Armand comes into the room. Camille, exhausted and dying, lies on the sofa almost helpless. She rises from the sofa with great difficulty, to embrace him, and as she threw her arms around his neck and said “Ah, Armand, I die,” a soulless wretch in the pit said “Ha-Ha.” She again embraces Armand with great difficulty and with heart-breaking strain, and again the fellow in the pit cynically shouted “Ha-Ha.” It was enough. Camille pushed Armand aside and rushed down to the footlights. She glared over the stage front at the interrupter and shouted to him; “If that man is not satisfied he can go to the box office and get his money back.” She then went back to Armand, threw her arms around him again, and with great difficulty, with a gentle, broken voice, stammered, “Good-bye, Armand, I die,” and with wonderful, heart-breaking acting she sank into Armand’s arms and the piece was ended. Down came the curtain slowly, and it had no sooner reached the stage than Janet Achurch rushed to the back, and we felt she was after the cynic, and we hoped she met him and gave him a bit of her mind. I liked New Zealand, particularly Dunedin, where the immortal Shamrock Hotel, that was kept by Miss Gibbe, always had a welcome for us. We liked that hotel, not so much because of its Irish name, but for its popular hostess, who considered us actor boys as her own children. And how she looked after us 1 She fed us up like every good mother does her beloved nippers. Poultry was ever on the table, and when we came home after the theatre she would make us all go into the dining-room where she would treat us to great plates of Stewart Island oysters about as large as saucers. I remember one evening as we were eating our oysters with pepper, vinegar and daintily buttered bread, one of the party said: “I wonder if there were pepper, vinegar and bread in the early days of humanity?” I immediately said: “No, I guess not, for the word ‘vinegar* means ‘sour wine,* the French for which is ‘vinaigre,’ hence the word ‘vinegar’ is a bad English adaptation of the French word, and France is not old in the days of the world’s history.” I was going on like this for about ten minutes trying to impress the crowd at the table how clever I was, when the other chap, evidently having a joke to inflict upon the party, began to get uncomfortable. able. I noticed this, so in order to block him I went on: “You see, France cannot be said to be old. Barely six hundred years ago when the Crusaders saders were ” “Cut it short,” shouted the other, “cut it short— dash it man—l’ve got a joke. I was about to say, not having vinegar, pepper and bread and butter, the early man who first ate a raw oyster must have been plucky, especially if it was the size of a plate, like the Stewart Islanders. That’s all.” We didn’t laugh. At those suppers there were also plates of young crayfish, and didn’t we enjoy those happy suppers, and her charge for our weekly stay never exceeded one pound per head, and that in a town mostly populated by Scots! Oh! Miss Gibbe was an angel, and I guess that now she is not there, the tariff is a good deal stiffer. I fancy that Miss Gibbe, with her sweet and happy disposition, inspired the writers of that jolly opera, “Our Miss Gibbs,” for she was ever happy and merry in that quaint Scottown town of Dunedin. CHAPTER XVI. We had a good deal of fun in Dunedin. A contract was called for some building work, and the lowest tender was sent in by one “Sandy Macgee.” It was accepted, and “Sandy” was written to and asked to start the job without delay. “Sandy” turned up next morning with the signed contract, and he proved to be a Chinaman! When he came up, he was accosted with the remark “You’re not Sandy Macgee.” “Ah,” said the Chow, “P’raps I signum Ah Foo, I no gettum contract, so me signum Sandy. Me gettum contract righto.” And he did the job as smartly as he got the contract. We had a fine time in New Zealand, with crowded houses everywhere, the success of Janet Achurch being remarkable. When we arrived at Auckland, Janet considered she would use a great advertising idea, so she told the press she intended giving a grand “At Home” on the stage, at which all the elite of Auckland land were to be invited. It was a novel idea then, and there was much uncertainty how it would take on. It took on alright, for the place was packed almost to suffocation. There was music, tea, cake and recitations. I did some of the music with a song or two, Janet reciting, as she could well do, although in the awful crowd she had little opportunity tunity for dramatic play of her outflung arms. As for the tea and cake, how the crowd went for it! The tables were cleared in no time, and fresh supplies went off almost as fast. It seemed as if the crowd would never have its hunger stilled. And then when the time came for saying good-bye, everyone wanted to shake hands with Janet. Before she was one-third through with them she was sorry she had initiated such an affair; before she was half through she felt she was foolish to have done so; and when three-quarters through with the handshakes, she felt she had done a criminal act, and finally when the last lot went out she flopped down on to a sofa, and with her tired arms hanging over the sofa side, she said: "Thank God it’s over at last.” Evidently the Aucklanders fancied each personal invitation was meant for the family and relations, for they all turned up. When we returned from New Zealand the company pany was disbanded, as Janet Achurch was going back to England, and I linked up with Hick’s Colored Minstrels that opened at the Old Opera House that was on the corner of King and York Streets, Sydney. I was to play the part of Lawyer Marks in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” there being real niggers in the piece, amongst whom were Charlie Pope and Irving Sayles, famous afterwards as corner men in Harry Rickards’ Star Vaudeville Company. Amongst the white Australians on the stage was Alfred Woods, who long afterwards became a clever leading man; in fact, when George Rignold gave up Her Majesty’s Theatre, Woods took it on. However, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” didn’t take on very well, and poor houses resulted. It was our delight at the beginning of things to see young Woods peeping through a hole in the curtain, and suddenly rush up to the dressing-room and shout with glee, “Another one has just come in.” Oh! yes, we enjoyed the humour of it at first, but it afterwards meant that we were not to get our salaries, so we didn’t enjoy it so much, hence it was decided to close up and go to Newcastle. We got good houses at Newcastle, I suppose because the miners were rather interested, because they found that other people besides themselves wore black faces. From Newcastle we went to Maitland, where I thought it was about time I got the full pay that was owing to me, so just before the curtain rose on a packed house, I demanded all the salary owing to me. It was not forthcoming, so I packed up my trunk and started out to the railway station to come back to Sydney. Hicks, the proprietor, seeing I was so determined, chased me dowfi the street. I said: “I want my full salary or nothing.” So he paid me on the spot and I returned to the theatre, going right on to the stage to take on my character without any change of clothes or makeup. up. I wondered for some time why Hicks was so anxious for me to come back right away. I threw a chest for a while, as I fancied it was because of my striking acting, but my chest receded somewhat what when I found that Hicks had sold the house outright for two nights to two speculators at a fat figure, hence if I didn’t go on it would have given an excuse to the speculators that the play would not have been up to sample. CHAPTER XVII. Some Stage Tricks. I had enough of Hicks, so I unhitched from his team and came back to Sydney, where John F. Sheridan, who was famous as the Widow O’Brien in “Fun on the Bristol,” engaged me to tour with a new stunt that was thrilling London at the time —“The Human Rocket.” It was being performed in London by Madame Zazelle. The curtain would rise disclosing a huge cannon, at the side of w’hich stood two Grenadier Guardsmen in flaring red jackets and great fur helmets. A dainty damsel would coquettishly dance on to the stage and throw kisses to the audience. She would then be raised by a rope to the cannon’s mouth, and then lowered into the mouth of the great gun, feet first, and would disappear down the tube, which was abou
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