Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8 (December 1, 1929)

Our Women's Section

page 49

Our Women's Section

The Parcel


Two days before Christmas Jones came home with a large brown paper parcel—square and flat. He carried it carefully upstairs, and hid it in the usual place for such things—the wardrobe—behind his row of neatly pressed suits. Jones was a neat man—both in his mind and clothes. One could imagine his thoughts arranged in orderly rows; the shabby ones at the back, the good serviceable ones at the front ready for use.

He shut the wardrobe door and went down to tea, feeling secretive and clever. In reality he was perfectly transparent and a “dear old ass,” as his wife often said. To-night he felt extremely pleased with himself, and the world—so much so that he refrained from mentioning that the joint was overcooked. “Well, my dear, it is nearly Christmas again,” said he to his wife. She had heard this remark exactly seven times before—she had been married seven years, and she hated being called “my dear.” It made one feel so middle-aged and dull. However, Jones was not to be blamed for this, for he was nearly middle-aged, and just a little bit dull—moreover, “my dear” was with him a term of affection equivalent to the “dearest” and “darling” and “angel” of the very modern couple next door.

Now Betty had seen her husband walking ponderously up the path, from her seat in the window; she had observed the large flat parcel, heard the “dear old thing” tip-toeing up the stairs—heard the creak of the wardrobe door. “What delightful babies men are—even when they are frightfully dignified,” thought this discerning young woman. “I wonder what it can be?” When Jones opened the door he had been greeted by “Hallo, Stephen dear, I didn't hear you come in; tea's all ready.” (Oh, pernicious woman!)

Betty was very kind that evening, she poured out her husband's coffee for him—just as he liked it—and perched on the arm of his chair while he read the paper. She thought of the wardrobe upstairs, and nearly kissed the back of his head, but remembered just in time that Stephen hated sentiment. Instead, she sat at the piano, dreamily playing French love songs. Betty was still young and rather romantic.

Lately affairs had become rather strained in the Jones establishment. Betty had been reading dozens of novels where all the heroes were slim, dashing and passionate. She realised dismally that her Stephen was just a little bald, rather plump, and very matter of fact. While he, returning from a tiring day at the office, was beginning to be aware that tea was never ready, and Betty always out playing Bridge. One day she had actually said “Damn!” when he casually mentioned that his shirt was altogether minus buttons. Such a state of affairs obviously could not continue.

page 50

page 51

This twenty-third of December night Betty decided that Stephen wanted to make amends, after the manner of men, and had bought her the little chiffon frock she had wanted so much, as a Christmas present and a peace offering. She thought of the parcel upstairs with a delicious little thrill. In fact, that night she could hardly sleep—such is the effect of a billowy, fluffy chiffon frock upon the mind of a woman. Stephen, the unromantic and middle-aged, had an excellent night.


Christmas Eve! That jolly day when all the world rushes about and laughs joyously. Betty had helped Stephen on with his neat black coat, resisted a temptation to ruffle his smoothly brushed hair — waved to him as he went his dignified way down the little path to the gate. “Dear old Stephen,” she thought. “Betty is decidedly improving,” mused the unsuspecting husband, as he walked to the tram stop. Stephen never ran; also, he never missed trams. The man, as I said before, had an orderly mind.

An Ever-Popular Playground. A scene at Tongariro National Park, N.I.

An Ever-Popular Playground.
A scene at Tongariro National Park, N.I.

Betty was dusting the bedroom — little flicks here and there—for she was preoccupied. She stopped before the mirror, thought of the chiffon frock — dainty, filmy, devastating! “I must just peep at it!” We will have to excuse Betty for this—most other women would have felt the same—especially about a frock. She opened the wardrobe door, saw the rows of suits, actually kissed the sleeve of one, for she was a romantic little thing—and, behold, there was the parcel, containing the fulfilment of her dreams. She lifted it out, rather guiltily, I must admit—undid the string, stripped off the covers with reckess abandon, and found—not a fragrant mass of chiffon loveliness— but a picture!

Betty sat on the bed and wept. It wasn't even the kind of picture she liked—a bleak landscape, and a few fat, sleek cows grazing. “Beastly thing!” she sobbed. Naturally she was prejudiced, and could not appreciate its beauties. She dashed downstairs to the telephone, her mind bent on revenge—a ghastly and cruel revenge. “Is that Simms's Hardware? It is Mrs. Jones speaking. Would you please send up a large garden spade at once—thank you. I particularly want it to-day!” Now, Stephen was not at all fond of gardening; it was one of the few things he really disliked. Also, Betty knew that he had wanted a complete set of H. G. Wells—that he expected it for his Christmas present.

That afternoon she hurried off to one of her endless Bridge parties, feeling triumphant, a little wicked, and, also, it must be confessed, more than a little mean. By the way, she played a very bad game, once even forgetting what was trumps! Her hands seemed to be full of spades — ace, king, queen—they swam before her eyes: she wanted to throw the cards across the room. “Really, partner, you're awfully lucky with spades this afternoon!” remarked her hostess. Oh, bitter irony! On the way home Betty saw that the chiffon frock was gone from the window, she felt acutely miserable at the thought that someone else would wear her chiffon frock. She decided that Stephen was not only a thoughtless idiot, but what is far worse—a heartless beast. That evening Mrs. Jones was cold and haughty, and Mr. Jones puzzled and miserable. And it was Christmas Eve!


The Joneses were having breakfast—porridge, bacon, toast and marmalade. Stephen liked order, even in his breakfast. Afterwards he departed upstairs, and Betty sat in silence, wondering how she could bear to look at the hateful picture again. She heard him open the wardrobe door—then a silence—then his footstep upon the stairs. She wanted to rush out into the street. Instead, she remained glued to her chair, staring at a slice of toast. “Happy Christmas, my dear!” Stephen was leaning page 52 page 53 across the table, and in his hands was the flat parcel—that awful, tragic parcel.

Betty smiled sweetly. “Thanks, Stephen,” she said; and began very slowly to undo the string and peel off the wrappings which screened the bleak landscape and the sleek cows from her eyes. Stephen hovered about, watching her furtively, his eyes beaming with good humour and a certain kindly tolerance.

The last wrapper undone, Betty found a flat cardboard box which she hadn't noticed before. Lifting the lid reluctantly she saw—not the cows grazing—but a heap of diaphanous chiffon, fragrant and beautiful. Then an extraordinary thing happened. Stephen saw his wife's curly head go down upon the table, heard a little despairing cry of “Stephen, my dear!”

Mr. and Mrs. Jones often laugh about the picture, which, by the way, he had bought for his brother. The spade is one of Stephen's most precious possessions, and though the chiffon frock is worn out, Betty, because she is still a romantic little thing, keeps it carefully hidden away. It reminds her of Christmas.

Tramping for Girls

Here are a few hints for the tramper, for summer is here, and the “long white road,” the knapsack, and the camp fire are calling us. Very few modern girls can resist a long day in the open, a jolly lunch miles from the “madding crowd,” and a limp home in the twilight.

There is absolutely no need to make yourself a hideous spectacle merely because you are going for a tramp. I have seen creatures (I cannot call them women) stalking along the roads, an insult to the beauties of Nature, and a perfect example of the poet's words: “Where every prospect pleaseth, and only man is vile.” Why look a freak, and probably be horribly uncomfortable, with thick riding breeches and heavy hob-nailed boots? You must remember that not being a man you are accustomed to light shoes and silk stockings, and you cannot change suddenly. Your feet simply won't stand it—and why should they?

First of all, do not go too far; it is a great mistake, and you won't enjoy it. We are all familiar with the girl who strides along, head down, swinging arms, steaming face, never a glance to the right or left. Next day she will proudly tell you that she walked thirty miles! What an achievement! But did she really have a good time? We doubt it. For most of us, fifteen to twenty miles is ample, and allows us time to stop here and there—on the summit of a hill or by a cool stream, perhaps to take a few snaps, or just to look. Life is such a rush that we have little enough time to see the leaves and the clouds, therefore let us feast upon them during our tramps, and carry back in our hearts a fresh green little corner—a lasting memory.

Now for a few “common sense” hints, something practical. Wear a cool, comfortable frock, with a pleated skirt, to allow you to scramble over fences and jump streams. No tennis shoes and silk stockings, but light wool and brogues. If you soap the insides of your stockings you will be spared the agony of blisters, and they are agony when you have a last five miles to do! Although it is summer, take a woollen jersey—something light—which you can stuff into your knapsack. You will be thankful for it on the way home.

Just one word more—do not carry too big a load, it is unnecessary, and often spoils your fun. It is hard to climb a stiff hill when you are shouldering a fifty-pound pack! When you are packing the “grub” remember two or three cakes of plain chocolate—sandwiches are apt to get very “squashy”—a loaf of bread is far better, and more easily carried.

Best luck for your holiday tramps.

“Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me;
Give the jolly heaven above,
And the highway nigh me.”

Books to Read

“The Cabala,” by Thornton Wilder. If you enjoyed “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” you will find “The Cabala” nearly as fascinating. There is a curious charm about these “impressions” of a modern society sect in a modern Rome—a charm which cannot be described. You will find this a delightful book.

“Toad of Toad Hall.” Every child who has been thrilled with “When We Were Very Young,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and “The House at Pooh Corner,” will simply love A. A. Milne's latest book, “Toad of Toad Hall.” It is perfectly delightful and will give the kiddies some very happy hours.

page 54

page 55

The Blouse and Skirt

This season it is going to be very fashionable to wear a blouse and skirt, a reversion to our school days, or to the girlhood of our mothers. There is a great difference—no stiff collars and long skirts — but a soft silk shirt with open neck and wide tie, and a smart pleated skirt worn at the waistline, with a leather belt and buckle. Nothing could look smarter and nothing could be easier to make. You can buy a pattern anywhere, and you will be delighted with your little sports suit—for street and office wear.

Brother Sun.

How shall I worship thee,
O Brother Sun?
I would fill my soul with thee
And thus become
A part of thee, and fee!
Myself in thee,
I would dance
I would laugh,
I would sing
For thee.
I would gather the harvest
Of my life, and give
The fruits to thee.
I would gather the sorrow
Of my years and give
My tears to thee.
I would gather the joy
Of my youth, and give
My love to thee.
O Brother Sun
How shall I worship thee?

To Freshen a Faded Carpet

In some cases a carpet can be brightened considerably, after cleaning in the usual way, by washing with a prepared carpet soap or soap jelly. If a special soap is used, care should be taken to use a soap of a trustworthy make containing no free alkali. The carpet should be washed in small patches, rubbing first of all with a cloth wrung out of hot water and then with a cake of carpet soap. If soap jelly made by dissolving ordinary soap in water is used, this should be rubbed over the surface with a small scrubbing brush. All traces of the soap used must be rinsed away afterwards, by rubbing with a cloth wrung out of fresh water, and then the surface should be dried as far as possible by rubbing with a clean soft dry cloth.

Another method of treatment is to rub either with a cloth or brush dipped in petrol. This being exceedingly inflammable, however, the work must on no account be done where there is a fire or naked light either in the room or in its vicinity.

If the carpet is too worn or faded to profit by treatment such as the above, it can either be sent away to be dyed professionally, or, if it is not worth this, it is possible to recolour it fairly satisfactorily at home. Any good make of home dye can be used for the purpose, and a hot, strong solution of this should be made. To keep it as hot as possible, the dye solution should be stood in a pan containing boiling water, and the solution applied to the carpet by means of a brush. Naturally, when a carpet is dyed in this way, the colour is not so permanent as when treated professionally and actually immersed in the dye bath, but the treatment does not take any very considerable time, and can be readily repeated when necessary.

A Beautiful Waterway. Cruising on the Wanganui River, North Island.

A Beautiful Waterway.
Cruising on the Wanganui River, North Island.

page 56

A “Safety First” Publication

The quarterly journal of the National “Safety First” Association (Inc.), published by the proprietors, The National “Safety First” Association, 119 Victoria Street, London, is a bright, interesting and informative publication. The September issue, which reached us recently, lives up to its reputation in this respect, containing, as it does, many instructive and constructive articles on the various phases of “Safety First.” Dealing with the question of road safety, for instance, Sir Herbert Austin, K.B.E. (to whom much credit is due for the heartening stimulus given to the British Motor Industry by the increasing popularity of British motor cars in the motor markets of the world) contributes a thought - provoking article—“Building Safety into Motor Vehicles”—an article containing many valuable suggestions tending to minimise the increasing toll of road accidents.

The activities of the Association and its branches are many and varied. One of the measures adopted in England to safeguard the younger children leaving school, is by senior scholars acting as school safety patrols. Their duty is to assist the younger scholars safely across the streets. “Teachers supervise the working of the arrangements, but they are not often called on to interfere. The children are proud of their achievements, and would regard an accident as a reflection on their own efficiency, and youth knows no greater blow than that.”

Special articles on industrial accident prevention and safety organisation are also published.

Amongst the useful safety slogans contained in the September issue, the following may be quoted:—

“Accidents do not happen — they are caused.”
“Co-operation cannot be commanded or demanded—it must be won.”
“Always pay attention to any posters or notices displayed. They are put up for your guidance and safety.”
“When caution becomes a habit accidents will be few.”
“Help the new man—for your safety as well as his own.”
“Where Safety is first life is longer.”

The Journal is ably conducted, and is doing a most useful work in awakening the conscience of the individual to the perils of carelessness and to the need for exercise, at all times, of vigilance, to the end of reducing the toll of accidents which bring so much human suffering and economic loss in their train.