George Alfred Applecrop, guest-house proprietor and rustic philosopher, sat in a wheel-barrow on the shady side of the cow-shed, his head pillowed on sacking, and slept peacefully.
Around the corner of the shed came his friend and neighbor, Mr Theodore Budd, to waken him with loud words.
Save that his eyes opened and his lips moved in speech, George Alfred made no move.
"Shut up, can't yeh," said he. "Want to advertise a man to the listenin' world? Here I been trine to snatch a few winks, with me bad back an' everythink, an' if it ain't the roosters it's the poddies, an' if it ain't the poddies it's you, startlin' a man out of his hard-earned nap yellin' fool questions in his ear.
"Yes: 'Hard-earned nap,' I said. When do you think the manager an' head an' front an' brains of a high class bush boardin' house gets time to think an' plan for the measly bit of profit that the city tourist leaves him? Every night an' all night I lays awake in the dark, when things is middlin' quite, excep' for the mopokes an' musketeers, an' thinks out schemes.
"Then, in the daytime, when I'm fair droppin' with fatigue an' me bad back an' everythink, I'm expected to sit out there in the sun in the paddick an' stop the cows from gettin' into the maize an' spuds.
"My wife, Em'ly's a good hard worker; but she ain't no manager. Many's an' many's the time I've laid awake beside her in the dark an' listened to her steady breathin' an' thought how lucky she was to be able to git tired enough to sleep all night.
"What's that? No! I ain't goin' to no Towrist Club meetin' this afternoon. In the first place, me back's too bad. Second, I got no time; I'm busy. An' third, the Towrist Club gives me a bad pain in the neck, an' I'm goin' to resign.
"Pretty lot of local boardin' house keepers they are: movin' an' secondin' an' carryin' idjiotic motions that is just spitin' their own faces an' takin' the profits outer the districts. Want to cut towrist racks through the bush, do they. Nice lot of ecconomists, I don't think. Stan's to reason. Towrist tracks is for towrists to walk on, ain't they. Well, a walkin' towrist is a hungry towrist; an' a hungry towrist eat's up your profits. An' the Towrist Club is goin' to cut towrist tracks an' give towrists appetities, are they? Not with my money they ain't. They gets no sub outer me this year. Why, I'd -
"Hey, listen! was that Em'ly callin'?
"Just take a quick squint around that corner, will yeh; an' see if them cows has got into the spuds. They ain't. Goodo.
"No, that ain't no one watchin 'em. That's the scarecrow I shifted out of the orchard an' dressed in some of my own duds. At nights I hides him in the scrub. Awful like me in the distance, ain't he. More brain work. It's a bit of luck my wife, Em'ly's a wee trifle short sighted.
"What was we talkin' about? Oh, towrists. Yes; they got other bad faults besides appetites - these here new-fangled duds, f'rinstance. Gives a man family notions. What with the girls wantin' slacks an' shorts an' strides, an' the boys pesterin' me to buy 'em blazers and sweaters an' white flammin' pants, a man don't get no peace. Born an' bred a four-piece man, I was; an' I been a four-piece man all me life - hat, shirt, pants, boots. That's all nature intended; an' anything else is just a bit of a swank.
"Well, I can't waste time listenin' to you all day. You git to yer Towrist Club; an' you can tell 'em what I think of their ecconomics.
"An' look. Would you do me the favour of walkin' round by that scarecrow an' talkin' to him for a few minutes so Em'ly can see you. Wave yer arms a bit to make it look natural. Thanks, Budd. So long."
And, two minutes later, George Alfred Applecrop, diplomat and economist, slept again in his barrow.
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002|