I lately met an old schoolmate of mine up-country. He was much changed. He was tall and lank, and had the most hideous bristly red beard I ever saw. He was working on his father’s farm. He shook hands, looked anywhere but in my face — and said nothing. Presently I remarked at a venture “So poor old Mr B., the schoolmaster, is dead.”
“My oath!” he replied.
“He was a good old sort.”
“Time goes by pretty quick, doesn’t it?”
His oath (colonial).
“Poor old Mr B. died awfully sudden, didn’t he?”
He looked up the hill, and said: “My oath!”
Then he added: “My blooming oath!”
I thought, perhaps, my city rig or manner embarrassed him, so I stuck my hands in my pockets, spat, and said, to set him at his ease: “It’s blanky hot to-day. I don’t know how you blanky blanks stand such blank weather! It’s blanky well hot enough to roast a crimson carnal bullock; ain’t it?” Then I took out a cake of tobacco, bit off a quarter, and pretended to chew. He replied:
The conversation flagged here. But presently, to my great surprise, he came to the rescue with:
“He finished me, yer know.”
“Finished? How? Who?”
He looked down towards the river, thought (if he did think) and said: “Finished me edyercation, yer know.”
“Oh! you mean Mr B.?”
“My oath — he finished me first-rate.”
“He turned out a good many scholars, didn’t he?”
“My oath! I’m thinkin’ about going down to the trainin’ school.”’
“You ought to — I would if I were you.”
“Those were good old times,” I hazarded, “you remember the old bark school?”
He looked away across the sidling, and was evidently getting uneasy. He shifted about, and said:
“Well, I must be goin’.”
“I suppose you’re pretty busy now?”
“My oath! So long.”
“Well, good-bye. We must have a yarn some day.”
He got away as quickly as he could.
I wonder whether he was changed after all — or, was it I? A man does seem to get out of touch with the bush after living in cities for eight or ten years.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:57