MoboReader > Literature > In Pastures New

   Chapter 6 WHAT ONE MAN PICKED UP IN LONDON

In Pastures New By George Ade Characters: 9167

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


AND SENT BACK TO HIS BROTHER

A man is always justly proud of the information which has just come to hand. He enjoys a new piece of knowledge just as a child enjoys a new Christmas toy. It seems impossible for him to keep his hands off of it. He wants to carry it around and show it to his friends, just as a child wants to race through the neighbourhood and display his new toy.

Within a week the toy may be thrown aside, having become too familiar and commonplace, and by the same rule of human weakness the man will toss his proud bit of information into the archives of memory and never haul it out again except in response to a special demand.

These turgid thoughts are suggested by the behaviour of an American stopping at our hotel. He is here for the first time, and he has found undiluted joy in getting the British names of everything he saw. After forty-eight hours in London he was gifted with a new vocabulary, and he could not withstand the temptation to let his brother at home know all about it. The letter which he wrote was more British than any Englishman could have made it.

In order to add the sting of insult to his vainglorious display of British terms he inserted parenthetical explanations at different places in his letter. It was just as if he had said, "Of course, I'll have to tell you what these things mean, because you never have been out of America, and you could not be expected to have the broad and comprehensive knowledge of a traveller."

This is the letter which he read to us last evening:

"DEAR BROTHER: I send you this letter by the first post (mail) back to America to let you know that I arrived safely. In company with several pleasant chaps with whom I had struck up an acquaintance during our ride across the pond (ocean) I reached the landing stage (dock) at Southampton at 6 o'clock Saturday. It required but a short time for the examination of my box (trunk) and my two bags (valises), and then I booked (bought a ticket) for London. My luggage (baggage) was put into the van (baggage car) and registered (checked) for London. I paid the porter a bob (a shilling, equal to 24 cents in your money), and then showed my ticket to the guard (conductor), who showed me into a comfortable first-class carriage (one of the small compartments in the passenger coach), where I settled back to read a London paper, for which I had paid tuppence (4 cents in your money). Directly (immediately after) we started I looked out of the window, and was deeply interested in this first view of the shops (small retail establishments) and the frequent public houses (saloons). Also we passed through the railway yards, where I saw many drivers (engineers) and stokers (firemen) sitting in the locomotives, which did not seem to be as large as those to which you are accustomed in America.

"Our ride to London was uneventful. When we arrived at London I gave my hand luggage into the keeping of a porter and claimed the box which had been in the van. This was safely loaded on top of a four-wheeled hackney carriage (four-wheeled cab), and I was driven to my hotel, which happened to be in (on) the same street, and not far from the top (the end) of the thoroughfare. Arrived at the hotel, I paid the cabby (the driver) a half-crown (about 60 cents in your money), and went in to engage an apartment. I paid seven shillings (about $1.75) a day, this to include service (lights and attendance), which was put in at about 18 pence a day. The lift (elevator) on which I rode to my apartment was very slow. I found that I had a comfortable room, with a grate, in which I could have a fire of coals (coal). As I was somewhat seedy (untidy) from travel, I went to the hair-dresser's (the barber), and was shaved. As it was somewhat late I did not go to any theatre, but walked down the Strand and had a bite in a cook-shop (restaurant). The street was crowded. Every few steps you would meet a Tommy Atkins (soldier) with his 'doner' (best girl). I stopped and inquired of a bobby (policeman) the distance to St. Paul's (the cathedral), and decided not to visit it until the next morning.

"Yesterday I put in a busy day visiting the abbey (Westminster) and riding around on the 'buses (omnibuses) and tram cars (street cars). In the afternoon I went up to Marble Arch (the entrance to Hyde Park), and saw many fashionables; also I looked at the Row (Rotten Row, a drive and equestrian path in Hyde Park). There were a great many women in smart gowns (stylish dresses), and nearly all the men wore frock coats (Prince Alberts), and top hat

s (silk hats). There are many striking residential mansions (apartment houses) facing the park, and the district is one of the most exclusive up west (in the west end of London). Sunday evening is very dull, and I looked around the smoking-room of the hotel. Nearly every man in the room had a 'B and S' (brandy and soda) in front of him, although some of them preferred 'polly' (apollinaris) to the soda. A few of them drank fizz (champagne); but, so far as I have observed, most of the Englishmen drink spirits (whiskey), although they very seldom take it neat (straight), as you do at home. I went to bed early and had a good sleep. This morning when I awoke I found that my boots (shoes), which I had placed outside the door the night before, had been neatly varnished (polished). The tub (bath) which I had bespoken (ordered) the night before was ready, and I had a jolly good splash."

We paused in our admiring study of the letter and remarked to the author that "jolly good splash" was very good for one who had been ashore only two days.

"Rahther," he said.

"I beg pardon?"

"Rahther, I say. But you understand, of course, that I'm giving him a bit of spoof."

"A bit of what?"

"Spoof-spoof. Is it possible that you have been here since Saturday without learning what 'spoof' means? It means to chaff, to joke. In the States the slang equivalent would be 'to string' someone."

"How did you learn it?"

"A cabby told me about it. I started to have some fun with him, and he told me to 'give over on the spoof.' But go ahead with the letter. I think there are several things there that you'll like."

So we resumed.

"For breakfast I had a bowl of porridge (oatmeal) and a couple of eggs, with a few crumpets (rolls). Nearly all day I have been looking in the shop windows marvelling at the cheap prices. Over here you can get a good lounge suit (sack suit) for about three guineas (a guinea is twenty-one shillings); and I saw a beautiful poncho (light ulster) for four sovereigns (a sovereign is a pound, or twenty shillings). A fancy waistcoat (vest) costs only twelve to twenty shillings ($3 to $5), and you can get a very good morning coat (cutaway) and waistcoat for three and ten (three pounds and ten shillings). I am going to order several suits before I take passage (sail) for home. Thus far I have bought nothing except a pot hat (a derby), for which I paid a half-guinea (ten shillings and sixpence). This noon I ate a snack (light luncheon) in the establishment of a licensed victualer (caterer), who is also a spirit merchant (liquor dealer). I saw a great many business men and clarks (clerks) eating their meat pies (a meat pie is a sort of a frigid dumpling with a shred of meat concealed somewhere within, the trick being to find the meat), and drinking bitter (ale) or else stout (porter). Some of them would eat only a few biscuit (crackers) for their lunch. Others would order as much as a cut of beef, or, as we say over here, a 'lunch from the joint.' This afternoon I have wandered about the busy thoroughfares. All the street vehicles travel rapidly in London, and you are chivied (hurried) at every corner."

"You have learned altogether too much," said Mr. Peasley. Where did you pick up that word 'chivy'?"

"I got that before I had been ashore a half hour. Didn't I hear one of those railroad men down at Southampton tell another one to 'chivy' the crowd out of the custom house and get it on the train? I suppose that 'chivy' means to rush or to hurry. Anyway, he won't know the difference, and it sounds about as English as anything I have heard over here."

The letter continued:

"One of the common sights in London is the coster's (costermonger's) little cart, drawn by a diminutive moke (donkey); but you do not see many of them west of the City (the original London confined within the boundaries of the ancient wall, but now comprising only a small part of the geographical area of the metropolis). I saw so many novel things that I would like to tell about them, but I will reserve my further experiences for another letter."

"I don't want to write again until I have got a new stock of words," the author explained.

He read as follows in conclusion:

"This evening I am going to the theatre, having made a reservation (that is, having purchased) two orchestra stalls (parquet chairs) at the Lyceum. You may gather from this letter that I am having a ripping (very good) time, and in no hurry to terminate my stay in town (in London). I am your awfully devoted brother,

"ALEXANDER."

IN PARIS

(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares