Page:Our New Zealand Cousins.djvu/248

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232
Our New Zealand Cousins.

The first applicant for a ticket tendered a one-pound note.

"Ain't ye got no smaller change?" came querulously from the official.

"No."

"Well, I can't change it. Ye'll have to wait."

The next man "planked" a half-sovereign, and received his ticket.

I put down a sovereign, and sharply demanded both tickets and change. Now, whether some subordinate had in the meantime been over to the public-house or store for change, or whether my attitude and tone signified that there might be trouble about, I know not, but there was no difficulty raised in my case. The poor second-class passenger, however, who had proffered his pound, was kept waiting in the cold for some minutes, until at length he managed to get an accommodating friend on the platform to negotiate the desired exchange for him.

Now "little straws show the drift of the current." We are all unconsciously influenced very much by first impressions. I can fancy a party of immigrants coming out to New Zealand; their hearts beating with ardent resolves, fond fancies, and high hopes, being at once chilled and disappointed by the bleak, wintry, inhospitable aspect of the Bluff; but if, in addition, they were doomed to a dose of that railway official, I can imagine the suicide statistics going up to a hitherto unapproached percentage. The man deserves promotion. He would be invaluable as a Ministerial Under-Secretary to