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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

A Complaint

page 106

A Complaint.

The following unique fragment, written on brown paper, [unclear: w] found in the bicycle shed. Its style might belong to any century [unclear: a] asylum. The justice of the complaint, however, and the appearance [unclear: o] several phrases lead us to infer that the is quite modern :—

". . . Lo ! then, the time of the proving of my [unclear: knowledge] by writing was at hand (this was in that year following next upon [unclear: th] in which the ship Mataura was wrecked) . . . . At the door [unclear: of] spacious building, hight the Hall of Husbandry, where I [unclear: encounter] certain individuals. Of these, one seemed gifted with a [unclear: superfluity] levity, yet, withal, to be an official. He accosted me and inquired of [unclear: n] my business. Doubtless my bizarre appearance excited his [unclear: wonder] ment, for when I communicated my purpose to him, he spake [unclear: sudden] saying:

"This way, m' lord, 'ere's the machinery court."

"Who is he that superviseth ?" quoth I, as I entered.

"Oh ! that's Hansferansfernandez," said he, with a wink to [unclear: o] that stood near. (I know not whether I have caught the [unclear: nam] correctly).

"What doeth he now ?" quoth I again, seating myself at a [unclear: table]

"Oh, keep it dark, he's twiggin' a move."

I was about to ask for an explanation of these words when he [unclear: th] supervised said in a gentle voice to those there assembled :

"O excuse me, please, just a minute. You can put on the [unclear: ti] afterwards. I just wish to read the regulations."

Thereupon he read sundry rules wherewith I was already acquainted.

Then began I to write, as did the others.

page 107

"O excuse me, please," again spake he that supervised. "You can have more water if you wish."

"Thank you." Again began I to write.

"Oh, excuse me, please. There's a lady learning to ride a bicycle in the Main Hall, and if the gentlemen would not stand and look——"

I cared not for ladies, so I continued writing.

The morning sun streamed through the transparencies in the roof of the spacious hall wherein I sat. The strong beams fell upon my head and made me dizzy. He who had first accosted me was walking about, and as he approached me, jug in hand, he whispered :

"Everything bear an equal strain ?"

I did not understand his words; but I desired of him to be moved into the shade.

. . . The afternoon. Showers of rain fell, and poured on the roof like the beating of many flails. My head seemed to crack as dry wood that splitteth under the stroke of the axe. My feet, be it known, also were muchly chilled by draughts of cold air that rose through the gaping joints of the rough flooring.

. . . Also the next day, when the hall was filled with a continual thud, thud, that seemed to have its origin in the posterior portion of the hall, and that continued throughout the day.

I complained to him that supervised. He said sweetly that he was sorry, but that he was unable to shift the machinery. . . .

To my surprise the proving of my knowledge was satisfactory. Again the time of proving approacheth. Shall I again hear that dull thud, thud, thud ! My thoughts are full of this.

I weep to think of what, perchance, I must endure again. Verily, there is no peace for the wicked.