Henry Alfred Applecrop, owner and proprietor of the "Home from Home" guest house in the remote bush, ceased to tinker with his obstinately silent wireless set on Friday morning, and hobbled to the telephone to ring up Smith's General Emporium 12 miles away at the railhead. His manner showed evidence of extreme urgency as he gave the number and waited impatiently for the answering ring.
"The mail car will be leavin' there in 10 minutes," he said to his wife, Emily, as he waited; "an' if I can't get them batteries by that, none of our guests is goin' to hear any Test scores tonight. Eh? Well, how did I know the batteries was flat? If you'd only told me when –-"
Just then the 'phone bell sounded, and, hastily grabbing the receiver, Henry Alfred delivered the following monologue:-
Is that Smith's shop? Eh? No; I don't want the blacksmith's shop! I said, is that Smith's shop? Yes, Smith's Emporium, if you want to be classy. I said, if you want to be classy -– Classy! Oh, never mind.
Now, listen, this is Applecrop speakin' – Wot? I ain't arsking you to stop squeakin'. I said, Applecrop speakin'. Yes; Henry Alfred Applecrop. Now, look; you ain't got too much time to lose –- time to lose –- lose -– No; I ain't orderin' no screws. I want you to send this mornin' via the mail -– Eh? Who's talkin' about wire nails? I don't want no wire nails; I got plenty round –- I never said twenty pound! Will you listen?
Is that Smith's? All right. Now, this is very pertickler – I said, it's very pertickler. Eh? I ain't said nothin' about Hitler nor Hindenberg either. Wot's the matter with your 'phone? Phone! Yes; it's got a confounded splutter –-
I ain't arskin' for no pound of butter! Keep yer bloomin' butter! Are you there? You only got five minutes now. Are you there?
(Henry Alfred jiggled the transmitter hook savagely and tried again.)
Is that Smith's? Well, you just stop tryin' to chip in and listen careful. This is very important –- no; not unfortunit -– important. Got that? Well, now, listen to me, an' stop tryin' to be too previous.
My ole B batteries has gone dead this mornin' an' -– WOT!! I never said ole T. Slattery was dead! He ain't dead, an; no one ain't in mournin'. Ole Slattery did have a bit of a cold, but he ain't no worse –- Eh?
Here! Don't you dare send up no hearse. I said no worse, not hearse. Ole Slattery ain't no worse. (Here, Em'ly, stopping bumpin' with that broom!) Wot's that? Dumpin' who in the tomb? Oh, stone the crows! Will you listen?
(Mrs Applecrop dutifully laid aside her broom and, sitting quietly by the wireless set, began to fiddle with the various gadgets.)
Now, listen careful (continued Henry Alfred). My guests wants to listen in to them Tests tonight. Got that? Good. Well, when I tried my set this mornin' I found the current -– Eh?
Now, please, mister, please! I don't want a pound of currants! I said, I found the current -– the juice, you know. Yes; the 'lectricity. Yes. There wasn't none. No. Well, what I want you to do -– Hang on a minute!
(Suddenly sounds of sweet music smote upon the ears of Henry Alfred, and, turning to were his wife sat, he discovered that the loud-speaker was blaring forth merrily.)
"How did you fix it, Em'ly?" he asked, amazed.
"I've done nothin'," his wife assured him. "Just poked that little bit of wire in there. Seems all right now."
Henry Alfred sighed and turned back to the 'phone.
Is that Smith's? (he asked, mildly). Oh, it is, is it? Well, have you got any B batteries for a wireless set? Oh, you can hear me plain now, can you? Well, how many batteries have you got? Dozens of 'em, eh? Well, if you was to hook 'em al up together you would give yourself a pretty good, sharp shock, couldn't you? Well, that's what you better do, 'cos you need it. That's all, this mornin', thank you.
And, carefully replacing the receiver, Henry Alfred sighed again and returned to his comfortable seat on the verandah.
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004|