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record; and the strange fact will be noted that the paper does not appear, though obviously I stand in the pose of a man holding a sheet of a big paper, reading it. The absence of the paper is significant.
I write these things not knowing well what the future has in store for me-whether in truth I, James Standish, shall die on January 1 of the next year, as I have read in the Times,' according to my description, or whether the whole thing has been a juggle of Eastern hypnotism and conjuring.
That is the record that I found in my deceased relative's papers. It is an extraordinary coincidence, if nothing more, that he actually did die, suddenly, of failure of the heart, at Staplehurst, which is a little village on the coast, on January 1 of the year following that in which these things happened. It appears to me that he was endeavouring to fly from the fate foretold to him, for he was one of the few survivors of the wreck of the Mohawk, that ran aground in December of last year. He was conveyed, suffering from a broken leg, to the inn of this little fishing village, and there died of failure of the heart's action following exhaustion from the shock of the amputation of the limb. It is singular that I have not been able to find the catechism of question and answer to which he refers in his record; but there the photograph is, showing my deceased friend in the attitude of a man apparently reading, and holding in his two hands before him a newspaper of which there is no visible sign on the photographic print.
HORACE G. HUTCHINSON.
BY LADY BROOME.
My experience of being interviewed began many years before the invention of the present fashion of demanding from perfect strangers answers to questions which one's most intimate friend. would hesitate to ask. My interviewers had not the smallest desire to be informed as to what I liked to eat or drink, or at what hour I got up of a morning. The conversation on these occasions used to be strictly confined to my visitor's own affairs. Perhaps strictly' is not the word I want, for I well remember that my greatest difficulty at these interviews was to keep the information showered on me at all to the subject in hand, and to avoid incessant parenthetical reminiscences of bygone events.
Both in Natal and Mauritius we lived so far away from the town that it was too much trouble for the interviewer to seek me out, nor indeed do I remember hearing of cases which needed help and advice there so often as at other places.
My real début in being interviewed was made in Western Australia some sixteen years ago in the dear old primitive days, when I felt that I was the squire's wife and the rector's wife rolled into one, and most of the troubles used to be brought straight to me. Indeed, so numerous were my visitors of this class that a special room had to be set aside in which to receive them; and certainly, if its walls had tongues as well as ears, some droll confidences might be betrayed by them.
But I must confess I began badly. Almost my first visitor in that room was a 'pensioner's' widow. There can be very few pensioners' left now, for ten years ago, when we left dear Western Australia, hardly thirty of the old Enrolled Guard' survived. The colloquial name by which they were known in those latter days was Pensioner, though it does not really express their status.
Fifty years ago a large military force had been sent out to the Swan River Settlement-all that was then known of a colony now a million square miles in extent-to guard the convicts asked for by the first settlers to help them to make roads and bridges and
public buildings. After twenty years the deportation of convicts to Western Australia ceased, and the troops were withdrawn.
As, however, it was desirable to induce respectable settlers to make the colony their home, special advantages had been offered to soldiers to remain and take up free grants of land. Many of those who had wives and families accepted the offer, and, whenever they proved to be sober and industrious men, did extremely well. In addition to the liberal grants of land, each man was given a small pension, and ever since the convicts left his military functions had been confined to mounting guard at Government House. Even that slight duty came to an end, however, during our stay, and smart young policemen replaced the old veterans in out-of-date uniforms, their breasts covered with numerous medals for active service in all parts of the globe.
But to return to my first interviewer-an old Irishwoman, very feeble and very poor, her man long since dead, and the children apparently scattered to the four winds of heaven; the grant of land sold, the money spent, the pension always forestalled, and the inevitable objection to entering the colonial equivalent for the House.' To more practised ears it would no doubt have sounded a suspicious story, but it went to my heart, and I gave the poor old body some tea and sugar, an order for a little meat, and-fatal mistake-a few shillings. Next day there was a coroner's inquest on the charred remains of my unfortunate friend, who had got, as it seems she usually did, very drunk, and had tumbled into her own fireplace. Everyone seemed to know how weak and foolish I had been in the matter of even that small gift of money, and the newspapers hinted that I must be a Political Economist of the lowest type! So pensioners' widows tried in vain to put the commether' on me after that experience.
'If you please, my lady, an 'Indoo wants to speak to you,' ushered in a little later my next interviewer. I beheld a small, trim, and cleanly clad little man entering at the door. His request was for a pedlar's licence. I timidly pointed out that I did not deal in such things, and that he must have been wrongly advised to apply to me for the document. This brought on a rambling story, very difficult to comprehend until I furbished up the scanty remains of my own knowledge of Hindustani. I then gathered that my friend was somewhat of a black sheep in character as well as complexion, and had so indifferent a record
in the police sheets that he could not get a licence to start a hawker's cart unless someone would become security for his good behaviour. He explained very carefully how he could manage to raise sufficient money to stock his cart, but no one would go security for him. I knew that hawkers made quite a good living in the thinly populated parts of the colony, and he seemed desperately in earnest in his desire to make a fresh start and gain his bread bonestly. I told him that I would consult the Commissioner of Police and see him again; which I did, with the result that I went security for his good conduct myself! No doubt it was a rash thing to do, but I wanted him to have another chance, and I impressed on him how keenly I should feel the disgrace if he did not run straight. Very good, lady Sahib; I won't disgrace you,' were his last words in his own language; and he never did. It all turned out like a story in a book, and two or three times a year my 'Indoo' turned up, bringing a smiling little wife and an ever-increasing series of babies, to report himself as being on the high road to fortune, if not actually at her temple gate. It was one of the most satisfactory interviews that little back room witnessed
Sometimes I had a very bad quarter of an hour trying to explain to the relatives of prisoners that I did not habitually carry the key of the big Jail in my pocket, and so was unable to go up that very moment, unlock its door, and let out their, of course, quite wrongfully tried and convicted friends. I have often been asked, 'Why did you see these weeping women at all?' but at the time it was very hard to refuse, for, in so small a community as it then was, one knew something of the circumstances, and how hardly the trouble or disgrace pressed on the innocent members of the family. Sympathy was all there was to give, and it was impossible to withhold that.
Looking back on those interviews one sees how comedy treads all through life on the heels of tragedy, and I am sure to a listener the comic element, even in the most pathetic tales, would have been supplied by my legal axioms. I used to invent them on the spot in the wildest manner, and I observed they always brought great comfort, which is perhaps more than can be claimed for the real thing. For instance, when I was very hard put to it once to persuade a weeping girl who had flung herself on her knees at my feet, and was entreating me to at once release her brother, who was in prison for manslaughter, that I had no power to give
the order she begged for, I cried, 'Why, my poor girl, the Queen of England could not do such a thing, how much less the wife of a Governor? I dare not even speak to my husband on the subject.' I have often wondered since if the first part of that assertion was true. The second certainly was.
Although I could not promise to overthrow the action of the Supreme Court in the high-handed manner demanded of me, still I have never regretted my habit of seeing these poor women and listening to their sad stories. It really seemed to comfort them a little to know how truly sorry I felt for them, and I always tried to keep up their own self-respect, and so help them over the dark days. I had very few demands on me for money, which was seldom needed for such cases; only when illness-rare in the beautiful climate-supervened was that sort of aid at all necessary.
But my interviewers did not invariably consist of supplicants against the course of justice. When it was found that a visit to me did not affect in any way the carrying out of the just-passed sentence, my petitioners fell off in numbers, for which I was very thankful. Sometimes I received visits of the gratitude which is so emphatically a sense of favours to come, but I very soon learned the futility of attempting to deal with those daughters of the horse-leech, and cut their visits as short as I could. Once, however, after a brief interview with a fluent and very red-faced lady, leading a demure little boy by the hand, a great and bitter cry was raised in my establishment, and I was implored by my housemaids not to see any more of them hussies.' The lady in question said she came to thank me for letting her dear, innocent, good little boy out of the reformatory. In vain I protested that I knew nothing whatever about the matter. The boy had been one of six or seven little waifs who had been sent to the reformatory on Rottnest Island, where we always spent our summers. These children used to come down to me every Sunday afternoon for a sort of Bible lesson, which I tried to make as interesting as I could; but beyond their names I knew nothing about them. I found that they were well taught and cared for, and, as they could not possibly escape from the island (I never heard that they had ever tried to do so), were allowed a good deal of liberty after the hours spent in school or the carpenter's shop. I presume this boy's sentence had expired in due course, and that he had returned to his loving mother; hence the wail from my distracted