Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

1 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



11 THE "CITY" BAG. By ERNEST WILLIAMS. SUBURBAN tradesmen shudder when they see me pass their doors of a morning, swinging, black and shiny, beside my owner. City trades- men rejoice to see me, and rub their hands and chuckle as they, or their shopmen, stow in the goods, and bulge out my sides, and make several attempts before my lock is fastened. Not every City man carries a bag to bring home household necessities but, no doubt, nine out of every twelve bags so carried could tell a tale like mine. After I was created, I stood upon a shelf with many other bags, shiny black, plain black, and tan. Occasionally, we were all taken down and dusted by a smart assistant and put back again, but seldom in the same places, so I had a good opportunity to talk with fresh neighbours from time to time. As bags, I could never obtain any of their experiences, being new like myself; but some had much to tell of where, as leather, they originally hailed from before they were cut about, and shaped, and sewn, and made to look so smart—they talked, just as a soldier talks about his life before he joined the Army. I presented such a respectable appearance, that I forgot I was ever anything but a bag, and that my hide came from off an ox reared on a Kentish farm, and that I had undergone a strange process in a Bermondsey tan-yard, and, eventually, found my way into the hands of the bag-maker. I had been in stock" in the warehouse about a month, when one morning I was taken down from the shelf, with several of my com- panions, and examined by a funny-looking little man, who seemed very undecided which of us he should have--for I gathered from his con- versation that he only wanted to buy one of us -at last, he selected me, and looking at the little green ticket fastened to one of my handle- rings he asked what the price marked at C2 meant, which the salesman told him stood for i os. 9d.; he fumbled in his waistcoat pocket and produced a card, and said it was for "the trade," so he obtained me for 8s. 9d. The pleasant smile left the salesman's face as he took the lesser sum to the pay-desk, and brought back the receipt. My new owner, however, did not notice this, but took me up from the counter and grasped me by the handle, and chuckled and said to himself as he stepped from out the warehouse-" Two bob saved anyhow." I learnt afterwards that a "bob" meant a shilling, for my master often indulged in slang, and as I was his almost constant com- panion while he was at business, it is not to be surprised at that I should pick up a lot myself. My master was highly respected for all that, and very sober-very. I never went with him into a public-house or restaurant all the time of my City life. I meant to tell you of my life from the time of coming into my first owner's hands, but so many things flit through my mind, that it is a difficult thing to keep them in their order. Well, to go back again, when I was purchased, I was carried through the busy streets, thronged with all sorts of people rushing here and there, and lots of busses and cabs and vans were being driven along the roadways. I saw many other bags as they were being carried past me, but they mostly looked old and worn; and as my bright shiny surface threw back the reflection of the sun, I felt proud indeed beside them. My master suddenly stopped, and turned and entered a large building, went through a swing floor, took off his hat, hung it on a peg, and placed me beside a desk, at which he took a seat on a high stool. I concluded this must be the office where he was employed. As I laid there on the cocoa- nut matting I could hear the chatter of some of the clerks, and 1 heard, though very faintly, my own name mentioned more than once, and thought they must be joking. When the time came to go home, my master unfastened my lock and placed inside me that day's issue of the Daily Telegraph, and I felt sure I should be able to learn something of the doings of the world, but I was sadly disappointed, for bags cannot see inside themselves any more than other things can. However, before we arrived at the large terminus from which we took train to the suburb where my master lived, I was to carry my first burden, in the shape of a weighty grocery parcel. It was all ready, tied up, upon the counter, with my master's name pencilled upon it, and oh how my sides ached as they squeezed that parcel in. I think I allowed my catch to snap-to extra quick, in the hope that somebody else might feel pain by having nipped fingers, but they were too sharp for me. In the train I was placed on the rack overhead and felt thankful to get a rest. Arrived home, and my contents turned out, I was subjected for five minutes to a good deal of handling, and then placed on a small side-table while the family sat down to tea. There were four children, three boys and one girl, who with my master and his wife managed to fill up the places around the table. I am so seldom empty that I am never hungry, and I could look at those boys as they made the slices of bread and jam disappear without my mouth watering. Tea over, they were off to cricket, and my master and his wife and daughter went out for a walk, leaving the servant to mind house. No sooner had the front door been shut to, than she must needs pick me up to examine me, and then glancing around to make sure no one was really looking, she pressed the catch and looked inside me. Seeing nothing to satisfy her curiosity I was shut to again, and left to mind my own business, until I should be required in the morning but I was wanted before that, for towards midnight, when all the house was dark and quiet, I heard a door-handle quietly turned, and footsteps approaching the room where I was. Then I saw by the light the individual carried that it was my master, arrayed in dress- ing-gown and slippers, and in his hand was a roll of blue paper tied with red tape. While I was wondering what he was going to do, he came over to the table, and opening me, placed the roll inside. Then he went off to bed again, evidently satisfied that his papers would not be forgotten and be left at home. When morning came, I was taken again to the City; and so on for many years, having many loads to carry. "Every dog has his day," and, of course, every bag has its day, and age began to wrinkle me, and my smart appearance gradually departed, in spite of being rubbed occasionally with a patent blacking, which made me look, for a time, a bit respectable; but I was not good enough for my master, and I had to give place to a new comer, which made me almost cry the first time I saw it going out to business in my place. I was put underneath the pot-board in the kitchen—discarded and useless. Sometimes I was taken on an errand, which seemed to revive me and to recall old times. At last I was forgotten entirely, and became blue with mould, and should, no doubt, have been caught up one fine morning and thrown into the dust-bin, had it not been for an old man who came round to buy rags and bones. Some jars which stood near me were to be sold to him, and while these were being cleared out he espied me, and offered the servant a penny for me. Fancy, what a price to be worth-only a penny Still, it was better than being in the dust-bin. I was deposited at the bottom of the bone- man's sack and several articles were put in to keep me company at different times, all having seen their best days, for I could hear the sighs they gave when they came to realize where they were-in a rag and bone bag By the stopping of the continual jolting and the bump which came as the sack was set down upon the wet floor, I judged the man's day's work was done and this proved to be right. For after a time we were unceremoniously emptied out and looked at again, and I was pleased to hear the old man say that my poor worn-out humble self would fetch a tanner," which you may know means in slang sixpence, and I felt satisfied to hear this—for I began my leathery life with a tanner. Accordingly, in a dirty evil-smelling poky little shop I was displayed to the public gaze-— "FOR SALE." There I lay for three days, and then I was sold for eight-pence—sold to a professional thief. I shuddered when I found this out—as find it out I did several nights after, for we had an exciting adventure. At a nobleman's country seat, my new owner made a "successful attempt" and had placed some hundred of pounds worth of jewellery within me, and was making off, when one of the farm-hands caught sight of him, and he gave the alarm, and a long chase took place. Self- preservation first-I was thrown into a hedge and my burgling owner soon disappeared, and his pursuers lost the scent, but they found me. I remained for some time, minus the jewellery, in the hands of the county police, and was given up eventually, for reasons I could never make out, to the nobleman who owned the jewellery, who of course did not want such a dirty old thing as myself, so he gave me to Jim, his head coachman, who treasured me up as though I were worth a lot of money, as a fitting object for the Chamber of Horrors in some waxwork show. Many open-mouthed yokels came to inspect me, and would stare for quite ten minutes at a time. There was no guilt they could attach to me-my conscience was quite clear. I was a' bag, and at the mercy of those who carried me. However, Jim didnt keep me very long, for a young reporter on the local newspaper heard of my existence and determined to speculate-so he bid Jim a sovereign for me, which sum Jim accepted. The reporter's Editor hailed me with delight and thought his junior had done a smart thing in buying such a relic, and paid him at once the sum he demanded— £ 2. That week there appeared a lengthy article in the paper, by their Special Commissioner," who had managed at great personal inconvenience and enormous cost to secure the very bag in which the daring burglar attempted to carry off the jewels be- longing to Lord W- Here followed a long list of the articles, and ended up by stating The Bag is on view at our office during business hours, and can be inspected on giving up cU out coupon, which will be found on Page 4 this week's issue." Here was notoriety indeed The sale of paper that week doubled, and I was place under a glass case on a deal table, with a barn around me, just like that which, as I^ heard, guards the King's jewels at the loVf of London, and quite a thousand persons ca to look at me. Public interest at last subsided and I placed in the window with the specimens printing, and here I was enabled to conve with the office-boy who could write shorthan > and 1 recited to him some of the events or life, which he took down and declared if eVfr rose to be an editor he would publish tn As for me, I am quite content, for after a life, I am in retirement in the country performed my work to the best of my a and deserve, I am sure, you will say, a earned rest.