NATHAN walked on to the raised
platform, sat down behind the masterís desk, adjusted his spectacles,
fumbled with some papers, and then rising and looking over his spectacles,
said : ó
"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."
"Tharíll be lots oí music afore the
meetinís 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."
"Iím 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 Iíd Ďaí
thought youíd Ďaí gone back on me so quick, Iíd Ďaí niver nominated yeh
fer chairman, aní I give yer fair warniní, Nathan, thet if yeh donít give
me a fair show at this here meetiní, Iíll move thet Muckle Peter be
substitooted, aní wotís more, Iíll carry it!
The noises of approval that greeted
Jockís 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 Jockís 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!"
ó" Hoo can ye lee sae brazenly !
"ó" 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, ó 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
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 oí foive pound uv
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 oí foive pound
"Hush, hush, Dooley, my man!" said
the candidate, "donít make a fuss here, and Iíll fix it all right."
But Dooley was excited and roared: "Yeh
did so, aní yeh know dód well yeh chated me out oí 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 : ó
"I say he did, aní he knows dód
right well he did, aní thí hull settlement knows he did, aní Iíll folly
him till ivery matiní aní see thet thí entoire ilictorate knows thet he
chated me out oí foive pound uv tay! Iíll tache thí 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 Queenís name. But this only served to make Dooley more
uncontrollably excited than before, and brandishing his stick menacingly
over Nathanís head, he exclaimed: " You aní Her Majesty kin be dód. Iím
here t' proclaim tí thí hull world, aní till Her Majesty es well, thet
this here shape-staliní son uv a plucked monkey chated me out uv foive
pound uv tay, aní if you or Her Majesty attempts tí interfere wid me, be
thí powers oí Mall Kelly, Iíll 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 oí 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.