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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)

The New Chum's First Camp

The New Chum's First Camp.

Butler did not lose much time in Christchurch when he crossed the Port Hills to the town that was to become the City of the Plains. He went exploring the country for sheep-farm country, with a settler who had a run beyond the Malvern Hills. Everything was new and wonderful to the young Englishman. He described a night in camp with his friend, in the valley of a tributary of the Rakaia River: “On one of these flats, just on the edge of the bush and at the very foot of the mountains, we lit a fire as soon as it was dusk, and tethering our horses, boiled our tea and supped. The night was warm and quiet, the silence only interrupted by the occasional sharp cry of a wood-hen, and the rushing of the river, whilst the ruddy glow of the fire, the sombre forest, and the immediate foreground of our saddles and blankets, formed a picture to me new and rather impressive. Probably after another year or two I shall regard camping out as the nuisance it really is instead of writing about sombre forests and so forth. Well, well, that night I thought it very fine, and so in good truth it was. Our saddles were our pillows, and we strapped our blankets round us by saddle-straps, and my companion (I believe) slept very soundly; for my part the scene was altogether too novel to allow me to sleep. I kept looking up and seeing the stars just as I was going off to sleep, and that woke me again; I had also under-estimated the amount of blankets which I should require, and it was not long before the romance of the situation wore off, and a rather chilly reality occupied its place; moreover, the flat was stony, and I was not knowing enough to have selected a spot which gave a hollow for the hipbone. My great object, however, was to conceal my conditions from my companion, for never was a freshman at Cambridge more anxious to be mistaken for a third-year man than I was anxious to become an old chum, as the colonial dialect calls a settler—thereby proving my new-chumship most satisfactorily.”