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The Spike or Victoria University College Review

London notes

page 11

London notes

Dear Spike,—

As your representative, I have not been idle since my arrival in London a short week ago.

My first visit was, of course, as is only right in a loyal subject, to the King. Your card obtained for me immediate admittance past the Horse Guards, Body Guards and Black Guards who hedge the approach to Royalty. His Majesty was in the Audience Chamber reading, I subsequently discovered, an edition de luxe of "The Old Clay Patch." To say that he was please to see me is an understatement. He jumped up, cried, "Why, it's the Frog" seized my hand, patted my head, and pushed me onto a luxurious seat inlaid with gold and covered with protuberances of ivory. Then, "William," he cried, "here's the Frog," A deep guttural voice from an adjoining room muttered "Ach, der Teufel," and the moustache that presently appeared in the doorway over the lips from which the sound had issued made me immediately suspect that I was in the presence of His Imperial Majesty of Germany. Two monarchs with one bomb, so to speak! Here was luck indeed, and with the object of pleasing the old gentleman I told him I had heard of him before. He was delighted. "You are a boxer?" I asked him politely. "You doubtless refer to our mailed fist," he replied. "Oh no," said I, "it is because I have often read of your divine right." The Kaiser laughed uproariously at my jest, and pressing a magnificent pearl in his scarf pin, ordered, from the menial who appeared in response, a bottle of the famous Dreimalverfluchtesbrauerei Non-alcoholic Lager Beer from his cousin's cellar. "We regret," went on the Kaiser after I had removed the froth from my lips, "that our daughter Luise is not here to meet you, but she is just looking round the sights of London. She has quite lost her heart in the Tower." "No wonder, your Majesty, for many a prince has lost his head there," came my ready reply. The Kaiser laughed uproariously at my jest, and, pulling a golden chain suspended from his second waistcoat button, ordered, from page 12 the menial who appeared in response, one of the famous denicotinised Krautblatt eigars from his cousin's Bond. I forgot to mention that his cousin also laughed uproariously at my jests, but not quite so uproariously when the orders were given. "Have you ever heard," I asked the Kaiser, just to make conversation, for the matter was really of no importance, "of our Professor von Zedlitz, the 178th baron of that line?" He pulled from his pocket a neat little volume in which I noticed that the German "Who's Who" and the Police Record were bound tastefully together, and after consulting it for some time in one of these divisions, replied that there was a von Zedlitz once, a Minister for the Interior. "That's quite possible," I said, "for our Von certainly does not minister to his exterior." The Kaiser was again about to laugh uproariously, when he caught his cousin's eye, and simply said "Ach" instead. Thinking that I had perhaps been neglecting the King a little in my conversation, I now turned to him. "These wars and rumours of wars, is there anything I them?" "I used to think so once," replied His Majesty, "but William assures me that since he has heard of the formation of the Victoria College Officers Training Corps, he has given up the idea "Another grunt from William confirmed the statement. To change the subject, evidently a rather painful one, I asked him after the health of the Queen. "Excellent, thank you, "he answered. "Sorry she can't see you, but she is rather busy at present adapting some of my garments as Harem Skirts for her Ladies in Waiting. At that moment a lackey announced Lord Bluff and the Duke of Boulcott Terrace, and thinking that the King and the Kaiser would not like me to see them in such company, I rose hastily and said my adieus. "By the way," I said as I was leaving the room, "I have heard some talk of a coronation approaching. Is there any truth in the rumour?" but was out of earshot ere the reply came.

On leaving the Place gate, whom should I run into but Kitchener. You know he had spoken to me once in New Zealand, that time I unfortunately got in the road of his motor-car on Lambton Quay, and now remembered me quite well. With characteristic abruptness he asked me three question: "Who's your hatter?" "How's Lieutenant Short?" and "What did the O.T.C.?" Of these questions only the second one seemed to me at all relevant. The first was so obviously unnecessary, for, as page 13 you know, I require no hatter, that I simply ignored it. The second be followed up by saying that the fine figure, sang-froid, and impeccable modesty of the Lieutenant were among his most pleasant recollections of New Zealand. I replied that he seemed very well when I left, but had since probably become engaged in other actions, With regard to the third, falling in with the spirit of the riddle, I hazarded the answer that what the O.T. did C. was their Captain going off on a junket of more delicious nature than the one which the good Queen Mab was ever fabulously supposed to have eaten. The great soldier said that he did not remember ever having met Queen Mab, but what he did remember was the O.T.C on the march. Every time he went down the Helter-Skelter at the White City he thought of it. Then thanking me, he saluted, and with best wishes to the Spike upon his way.

I was now due at the town house of the Lord Chief Justice of England, and as I intend to complete my own LL.B. on my return to New Zealand, felt well qualified for the interview. I was shown into his library, and as his Lordship was not quite ready to receive me, had opportunity to look round his shelves. To my great surprise, amongst all the legal authorities of the ages there was no sign of Garrow, Salmond was there, of course inscribed "To my dear friend Alverstone, trusting that a careful perusal hereof may render his judgments impervious to appeal." But where was Garrow? Subsequently I ascertained that his volumes, those delightful "We are seven," were there too, but in the originals whence they sprung. Presently the great judge was announced, a footman appearing before him in the doorway. From the latter's facial expression I judged that he had probably appeared before his Lordship on some less propitious occasion in the past. But over his shoulder I beheld a face the absolute legality of which I never expect to see equaled. A stern, unrelenting, almost terrifying aspect, which made me shudder involuntarily, and by a curious association of idea, think of our own Bertie Evans. He addressed me in a voice which sent my thoughts back along the serried ranks of my past deeds and I fervently hoped that none of the more doubtful of them would come to light, at least, while I was in England. I have stood up to a Poneke forward without flinching" I have sat down to a vegetarian dinner without a wince; but before this page 14 great man I was awed. Under such circumstances the interview was naturally not a very satisfactory one. I have faint recollection of having asked him how many broad arrows were allowed to each prisoner; whether his sentence were usually complex or simple, and whether he favored the introduction of the split infinitive in the death sentence for the sake of variety in the case of prisoners who had heard it more than once, and whether the fact that there were never any labour troubled between employer and employee in His Majesty's gaols did not go far to prove that compulsory labour was, like compulsory training, a solution of a great difficulty. His answers, I regret to say, I forger. I also forget how I left his house, but was pleased to find myself unexpectedly one more in the open air.

This completed my list for the day. On my way home I had, however, two minor interviews, one with a policeman who accused me, quite unjustly, of obstructing the footpath in front of a leading tobacconist's and the other with a taxi-cab driver with regard to legal fares, As I extracted as little from them as they did from me, there is nothing to tell.

To-morrow I have a long round before me, including Marie Corelli, the Bishop of London, and the Swanky Sisters, now appearing at the Alhambra. Reports of these interviews will reach your in time for your next number.

In the meantime I remain,

Your respectful correspondent,

The Frog,