Page:Our New Zealand Cousins.djvu/247

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Our New Zealand Cousins.

houses, and bigger shops. The wharves are somewhat more extensive, and the railway buildings have been added. There was a railway twenty years ago; that I distinctly remember, because an enthusiastic Bluffite got a shovel, and dug a sort of pit in the drifted sand, and showed me the rails, but there was no train then. The line was blocked by the sanddrifts, and possibly also because the provincial treasury-chest was at ebb-tide.

There is a train now. It is the coldest, most comfortless train I ever rode in. The railway officials seem like the old rails, to have been dug out of a sanddrift too. One individual, who seemed to be invested with authority, was about the most sluggish in his movements of any official I remember to have ever met. He professed the most sublime ignorance of the time-table, or possibly was too lazy to give the asked-for information. Surely any fool, he evidently thought, coming to the Bluff, should know at what hours the trains ran. At any rate he acted as if such were his mental excogitations. The miserable pigeon-hole, or trapdoor, through which the bits of pasteboard are purveyed, was kept inexorably shut till exactly one minute after the train was timed to start This, in spite of frequent knockings by a troop of fellow-passengers, who were already depressed enough by what they had seen of the Bluff. Of course, then, the guard began to fuss, the engine-driver to cuss, the solitary porter to "muss," and things rapidly got "wuss."