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Colin of the Ninth Concession
Chapter XXV - Dooley breaks up the Political Meeting


NATHAN walked on to the raised platform, sat down behind the master’s desk, adjusted his spectacles, fumbled with some papers, and then rising and looking over his spectacles, said : —

"We are met to-night, fellow-citizens, for the purpose of hearing our statesmen discuss the great issues of the day, and I bespeak for them a patient hearing. I shall be very sorry if I have to call on the constable to keep order, or to blow out the candles. I am very sorry that we have not the coir (choir) with us, so that we could vary the proceedings with music."

"Thar’ll be lots o’ music afore the meetin’s over!" sang out a voice from the rear.

The first candidate introduced was a self-important, red-faced, short little man, who immediately proceeded to dilate on what he had done for the country. He talked with the greatest familiarity about Joseph Howe, Dr. Tupper, Francis Hincks, John A. Dorion, and other "distinguished and cultured colonial statesmen." But there was not one of them who was equal in importance to himself, or who had done so much for the country.

If any of the distinguished statesmen mentioned had ever been able to accomplish anything, it was due to the superior political prescience and far-seeing statesmanship of the speaker. If there is anything that a Scottish audience cannot stand it is a man and a speech of this character, and many of the hard-headed auditors began to move about in their seats uneasily.

"It was just at this critical and exciting period of the history of the colony," proceeded the speaker, "that 1 came upon the scene. Being returned to parliament by an overwhelming majority (the record shows the majority to be less than 150), I took my place in the great forum of the country. It was after Baldwin had thundered away against the bill, and it looked as if defeat stared us in the face, that I rose to my place in the House of Commons."

"I’m sure yeh made a hell uv a rise," chirped Jock, the drover; and the audience, greatly pleased with the sally, burst into roars of laughter.

"I hope Jock, the drover, will keep quiet," said the chairman, with an air of authority.

"Nathan," retorted Jock, "if I’d ‘a’ thought you’d ‘a’ gone back on me so quick, I’d ‘a’ niver nominated yeh fer chairman, an’ I give yer fair warnin’, Nathan, thet if yeh don’t give me a fair show at this here meetin’, I’ll move thet Muckle Peter be substitooted, an’ wot’s more, I’ll carry it!

The noises of approval that greeted Jock’s threat indicated that he knew the temper of the meeting better than Nathan, and the latter promptly apologised and subsided. But the reception given to Jock’s sally had paralysed the candidate, and it was a long time before he recovered his wind, so to speak.

There was, sitting on the front bench, an old Baldwin reformer, who listened with the deepest pain, and with constant gestures and low muttered expressions of dissent, to the speech of this candidate. Ever and anon this old reformer would mutter in a scarcely audible tone such expressions as these: "Ach, Goad, yer a leear!" —" Hoo can ye lee sae brazenly ! "—" Yer a bigger leear nor Ananias!"

The moment the candidate concluded his address the old man, who had been rocking to and fro with eyes shut as he recited his comments to himself, sprang to his feet and exclaimed, in a loud voice: "Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, — Goad, yer a leear!" As the audience was left to surmise whether it was the chairman or itself who was the liar, it contented itself by taking the thing good-naturedly and laughing heartily.

The next speaker had even a harder time than the first. It seems that during some period in his history he had kept a store in the county town, and had run counter to Dooley, the blacksmith. Dooley always claimed (and when he was "under the enflooence," claimed vociferously) that this man had "chated him out o’ foive pound uv tay."

So, when the candidate began to speak and was waxing eloquent about what he had accomplished in the way of public reform and national righteousness, Dooley, who, standing near the door, was "three sheets in the wind," could stand it no longer. His warm Irish temper was aroused, and the old trouble about the store transaction rankled in his bosom, and would not be put down. So, with his blackthorn shillalah in his hand, he marched up the centre aisle, and shaking his stick at the speaker, said, "Yer a liar, yeh chated me out o’ foive pound uv tay."

"Hush, hush, Dooley, my man!" said the candidate, "don’t make a fuss here, and I’ll fix it all right."

But Dooley was excited and roared: "Yeh did so, an’ yeh know d—d well yeh chated me out o’ foive pound uv tay!"

The audience became noisy and demonstrative, and Dooley, not knowing whether it was at him or the candidate who had got the start of him on the Young Hyson transaction, leaped upon the platform, and brandishing his stick, roared again : —

"I say he did, an’ he knows d—d right well he did, an’ th’ hull settlement knows he did, an’ I’ll folly him till ivery matin’ an’ see thet th’ entoire ilictorate knows thet he chated me out o’ foive pound uv tay! I’ll tache th’ spalpeen t' chate a poor blacksmith such es he done till me!"

At this, old Nathan, the chairman, thought the time had come to interfere, and so he rose and commanded order in the Queen’s name. But this only served to make Dooley more uncontrollably excited than before, and brandishing his stick menacingly over Nathan’s head, he exclaimed: " You an’ Her Majesty kin be d—d. I’m here t' proclaim t’ th’ hull world, an’ till Her Majesty es well, thet this here shape-stalin’ son uv a plucked monkey chated me out uv foive pound uv tay, an’ if you or Her Majesty attempts t’ interfere wid me, be th’ powers o’ Mall Kelly, I’ll break ivery bone in yer bodies."

Nathan was nonplussed; he did not know what to do. But Jock, the drover, relieved the situation by inviting Dooley out to have a "swig" at the jar. This was perhaps the only way in which the meeting could have been saved.

When Dooley was taken outside, the friends of the candidate who was speaking, locked the door and determined to keep the disturber away. But after Dooley had had his "pull," he returned to the door, and was furious at finding that it was locked. He moved to the window at the head of the school, and just at the moment when the speaker had reached a pathetic point, which he was earnestly driving home, Dooley lifted the window, and sticking his shaggy head through, shouted, "Yer a liar, ye know ye chated me out o’ foive pound uv tay."

This was too much for the meeting to stand, and amid laughter, uproar, and confusion, during which some mischievous lads blew out the lights, it broke up in disorder.


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