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Letters From Troy
by [?]

After him, Renatus Hansombody, carpenter, rose at the back of the hall and announced that he had a question to put to the Doctor. The Doctor, by the way, is one of the most popular of the candidates.

“I should like,” said Mr. Hansombody, “to ask the Doctor if he will kindly explain to the company Clauses 5, 6, and 13 of the new Act?”

The Chairman protested that this would occupy more time than the meeting had to spare.

“In that case,” said Mr. Hansombody, “I will confine myself to a test question. The Act provides that the Chairman of a Parish Meeting is to be elected by the Meeting. Now suppose the votes for two gentlemen are equal. In such a case what would the Doctor advise? For until you have a Chairman elected, there is no Chairman to give a casting vote.”

The Doctor thought that, since we had long ago elected a Chairman by acclamation, the question was superfluous.

“And you call him a straightforward man!” Mr. Hansombody exclaimed, turning round on the Meeting. “What I say is, are we to have pusillanimity in our first Parish Council? What I say is, that a gentleman who gives a working man such an answer to such a question–“

At this point the door opened and a shrill voice asked, “Is Hansombody here?”

“I am here,” said Hansombody, “to expose impostors!”

“Because if so, he must please come home at once. Mrs. Hansombody’s cryin’-out!”

“I always said,” remarked Old Pilot James, “that this cussed Act would scare half the women in the Parish before their time.”

“Beggin’ your pard’n, Doctor,” began his denouncer lamely.

“Not at all, not at all,” said the Doctor. “We must keep these matters altogether outside the sphere of party politics.” (Loud cheering.)

“Then I’ll have to ask you to step along with me.”

The two political opponents picked up their hats, and left the room together.

The Chairman rose as the door closed behind them. “I think,” he said, “this should be a lesson to us to accept the Act in the spirit in which it was given. If nobody else wishes to ask a question, I will now take a show of hands: but I warn you all it’ll be a dreary business.”

At this, the first hint of tedium, the company rose, drained their glasses, and made for the door, leaving the sixty-six remaining candidates to vote for themselves.

“Well,” Mr. Rabling said to me, as we stood in the street; “so far, this here Parish Meeting might be like any other Parish Meeting in the Kingdom!”

I doubted, but did not contradict him.

“There’s one thing,” he added; “Ironmonger Loveday has laid in a whole stock of sixpenny fire-balloons for to-night: and there isn’t a breath of wind. His boy’s very clever with the scissors and paste: and he’ve a-stuck a tissue-paper text on each–‘Success to the Charter of our Liberties,’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God Speed the Plough’; and nothing more than the sixpence charged.”

Simple, egregious, delectable town! As I leaned out last night, watching the young moon and smoking the last pipe before bed-time, a dozen of these gay balloons rose from the waterside and drifted on the faint north wind, seaward, past my window. Another dozen followed, and another, until from one point and another of the dark shore a hundred balloons soared over the water, challenging the stars.

Troy Town,
29 January, 1895.

“And then, as he set the bowl of goat’s milk on the board, that simple Tyrolean turned to me with a magnificent sweep of the hand, and exclaimed–“

Ah, my dear Prince, if you could only tell me what he exclaimed, you would restore a whole parish to its natural slumbers. For indeed he is playing the deuce with our nights, here in Troy, that guileless Tyrolean.