The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 8 (December 1, 1928)
Bill Buddle's sole education had been thrust upon him at a boxing school, and when he reached the intelligence front in the battle of life, he successfully encountered the situation by using his head instead of his hands.
In the inevitable conflict with his intellectual superiors, he simply sidestepped their wily mental moves by exploiting the psychological side of the subtle art of self-defence.
Whatever Bill could not understand, he explained fully. Whatever he fully explained, everybody accepted unconditionally.
In the little village of Geegeeville, Bill was regarded as the Intelligentiary of the village. Not only by the gentry, but also by the gents, the gentlemen, and by the people generally.
Bill's bedside poet was Omar Khayyam, and what man, woman, or child in the village had not been cheered and inspired by Bill's favourite quotation:
“Some for a costly limousine will mourn; Some hope, a little coupe, to adorn;
Ah, take the train, and let the motor go,
Nor heed the honking of a distant horn.”
It was when the Geegeeville Debating Society got held up over a dispute as to the correct meaning of the word “railsitter” that Bill Buddle brilliantly demonstrated his right to retain the intelligential title.
Mr. Hercules Hedger, chairman of the Geegeeville Debating Society, was commissioned to wait on Bill and take delivery of the decisive outburst of wisdom.
He met Bill at the local “smiddy,” and, with a bellows-like strength so characteristic of his kind, he looked Bill fair in the eye, and rasped out:
“Bill, what is a ‘railsitter’?”
“A polygamist,” replied Bill, “is a man who keeps on making the same mistake all his life. A ‘railsitter’ is a man who learns from other people's mistakes, and never makes the same mistake twice.”
This, of course, was purely a side-step on the part of Bill, who was sparring for time.
Had Mr. Hercules Hedger asked what a “railsplitter” was, Bill would certainly have had page 17 old Abe Lincoln on the tip of his tongue. Hedger, however, had asked what a “railsitter” was, so Bill continued:
“A ‘railsitter’ is a man whose motto is ‘Safety First.’ He pays for a seat in a railway train, knowing that he will have the privilege of sitting in that seat with the assurance that at no stage of the journey will he be dumped out of that seat into a lagoon, on to a gorse hedge, or over a barbed wire fence.”
On being made acquainted with Bill Buddle's ultra-modern definition of the word “railsitter,” some of the more hungry members of the Geegeeville Debating Society, showed a disposition to participate in a further helping of Bill's philological wisdom.
Mr. Hercules Hedger, the chairman, undertook to oblige, and on meeting Bill the following day, he said: “Bill, with further reference to the word ‘railsitter,’ it seems to be the general impression that the ‘railsitter’ is a man who sits on the fence.”
“No - no - no - NO!” shrieked Bill. “You're thinking of the motorscooter. He always sits on a fence—that is—'er—of course, if he happens to fall that way. If it is a protracted sitting, he usually passes the time blaming the roads and cursing the country, while the ‘railsitter’ squats in his comfortable cushioned seat enjoying the scenery.”
Moral: Go by train and get to where you're going.
The Scene Bill Buddle Might Have Seen
“Yes,” sad Scoot Whizzer, “for getting over the country and seeing the scenery, give me the motor car every time.”
These words were spoken to Bill Buddle by Scoot Whizzer as they flew along the road in the new “Rattlebury” which Scoot had just purchased and was bringing home from the city.
“You see,” said Scoot, enlarging on the virtues of the motor car; “with train travelling you see the same old scenery every time.”
“I can never manage to see any scenery when I'm travelling in a motor car,” replied Bill; “everything seems to shoot past like a big basin of haggis.”
“Yes,” said Scoot, ignoring Bill's nasty indictment; “give me the motor car for variety, and there's nothing can beat the motor for giving a man a thrill.”
“And they can give you a dirty spill, too,” said Bill.
“I said ‘thrill,’” yelled Scoot, “not ‘spill.'”
Scoot's sense of humour had long since been embalmed by the constant inhalation of the vapours of many mysterious and terrible spirits, and with a deep touch of motor reverence in his voice, he continued:
“For combining business wth pleasure, give me the motor car. Nothing to touch it for killing two birds with one stone.”
“I thought the motor had a better average than that,” said Bill, and the conversation was closed.
As the “Rattlebury” vaulted along over the pot-holes, Scoot again became talkative.
“Remember Jim Butters, who went to school with us?” he asked.
“Perfectly,” responded Bill.
“Well,” said Scoot, “he's got a great sheeprun in these parts. The homestead, alone, which you will see from the road, cost something like five thousand pounds.”
“Good,” said Bill; “it should be worth seeing.”
At that moment they reached a part of the road that narrowed slightly and a car that had been following, came up close behind them.
“There's a car behind, tooting to get past,” said Bill.
Scoot gave a quick glance to the rear, and then, stepping on the gas, the “Rattlebury” gave a mighty leap and bounded forward with a speed that, to Bill's mind, made the passing scenery look like a half-cooked omelette.
When the time was opportune, Bill glanced behind, and away in the distance he could just see a little dark speck which, he had no reason to doubt, was a Ford car.page 18
Having treated Bill to about ten thousand acres of scenery to the mile, and feeling that his prestige as a pilot had been brilliantly enhanced, Scoot slowed the “Rattlebury” down a bit and looked over at Bill with a triumphant smile.
Bill seized his opportunity, and said: “You were saying, Jim Butters had a place in these parts. What about dropping in to see him when we come to it?”
“Confound those Ford cars!” shrieked Scoot. “That was Jim Butters’ place with the tiled roof that we passed about two miles back. I thought you noticed it.”
“I did notice something red,” said Bill; “but at the rate we were travelling it looked like a tomato patch.”
“Never mind,” said Scoot; “some day when you're not busy we'll take a run out and spend the day with Jim.”
“Right-oh, thanks,” said Bill. “I would like to see Jim Butters.”
Moral: Travel by rail, and see the scene that's otherwise unseen.
If there was one thing Jeff Hasty loathed more than a slow horse, that thing was certainly a slow train.
Jeff was fitted with one of those great big roomy brains which, like an elephant's appetite, requires to be nourished on quantity rather than quality.
With Jeff, a vulgarly large helping of speed was preferable to a generous assortment of scenic splendour.
Jeff had long since persuaded himself that slow horses were meant to provide sport for fools, while slow trains were intended for the transport of slow horses.
On one occasion, Jeff had posted a letter on a slow train, and six months later, it came back to him from the dead letter office.
As a result of this marathonic experience, Jeff was never able to witness a man purchasing a ticket for the purpose of travelling in a slow train, without becoming involved in a host of morbid speculations as to the man's ultimate destination.
Jeff's first lesson in real speed was brought about by a remark made by Bill Buddle to the effect that a slow train on the right line would beat a fast motor on the wrong road.
To mention slow trains in the same category as fast motor cars was the one sure way of completely stirring Jeff Hasty's motor-superiority complex into action. It stung his sense of quickness to the quick, as it were.
On the occasion that Bill Buddle had made his remark concerning slow trains and fast motor cars, he had taken the opportunity of further animating the situation by announcing his preference, for a slow train that puffed along as against a fast motor car that petered out.
This, of course, was too much for any selfrespecting speed-merchant, so, to prove that Bill Buddle belonged to the type of gentleman in whose company it is folly to be wise, Jeff Hasty undertook to give the slow train an hour's start and beat it to its destination by another hour.
When Jeff started off in his high-powered, low-geared, peak-priced “Tootlebeam,” he was as full of confidence as the tank was empty of motor spirit. Jeff, however, was not long in summing up the petrol position, and as he turned back for the purpose of filling the tank with petrol, he took the opportunity of prefacing page 19 the operation by filling the air with profanity.
So, as the slow train puffed and grunted up the incline, Jeff's “Tootlebeam” purred along the road in good style.
After purring for about five miles, however, the “Tootlebeam” developed “engine trouble.”
“Engine trouble,” it should be explained, is nothing more or less than the result of trying to make a slow car do a fast journey.
One motor in a hundred is built for speed. The other ninety-nine develop “engine trouble” attempting to head it.
It is impossible for one slow train to pass another slow train on a narrow line. Hundreds of motorists die in the attempt to prove that it is possible for one fast motor to pass another fast motor on a narrow road.
When Jeff Hasty reached his destination, the whole of his confidence had leaked out, and a creepy despairing feeling had leaked in. Staring him in the face was the miserly fact that his one chance of success hinged on the possibility of a slow train having developed “engine trouble.”
As he dawdled along he heard his name shouted from the rear, and, turning round, he found himself staring into the grinning face of Bill Buddle.
“Good heavens!” gasped Jeff, pulling up; “how did you get here, by air?”
“Oh, no,” chuckled Bill, “I came down on the slow train this morning.”
Moral: Travel by train. Fast starts make slow finishes.
An Old Traveller for a Smooth Trip
Old Mrs. Gladbury was an exceedingly wealthy old woman, and although she had reached the four-score-year-and-ten mark, she was still in possession of most of her faculties, as was evidenced by the fact that she did not own a motor car.
Mrs. Gladbury had no particular grudge against the motor car itself. What grieved her, however, was the fact that the motor car had been responsible for landing so many respectable people in gaol.
The very thought of a gaol was anathema to old lady Gladbury, and she certainly had no intentions of tempting the devil by buying a motor car.
So, while her less favoured neighbours stampeded around the country in “our car,” Mrs. Gladbury was quite content to travel in peace and comfort in “our train.”
It was when a new motor salesman arrived in the village that things began to happen as far as Mrs. Gladbury was concerned.
The new motor car salesman had served his apprenticeship to salesmanship with a secotine solicitor, and when he once got in touch with anyhody, it took more than a strong man's bluff or a weak woman's poodle to drive him off.
So, when it became known that the new salesman was taking Mrs. Gladbury for a run to the city and back with a view to selling her a new “Tipemup” car, the high-heads of the village wagged their chins, and gurgled, “What did I tell you?”
Unfortunately for the salesman with the secotine complex, it happened to be the potholey season in the main highway trade.
Notwithstanding the ingenuity of the car salesman in reducing the bumps per gallon to a minimum, it was quite evident that with each succeeding bump Mrs. Gladbury's bump of motor car antipathy expanded accordingly.
“Pretty rough road,” said the car salesman, in extenuation of the crime.
“I thought it was the car,” said Mrs. Gladbury.
“Oh, no,” said the salesman; “it's the potholes. “It's difficult to keep out of them.”
“Still,” said Mrs. Gladbury, “the car hasn't missed many.”
“The trouble is,” said the salesman, “the roads are far too flimsy for the motors.”
“Or, perhaps,” suggested Mrs. Gladbury, “the cars are too flimsy for the roads.”
The car salesman could now see that the pothole question was going to have a most disturbing effect on the sale of the “Tipemup,” so he said: “You won't notice the potholes so much on the return journey.”
“I'm sure I shan't,” rejoined Mrs. Gladbury.
On arrival in the city it was arranged to leave again on the return journey at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the car salesman undertaking to pick Mrs. Gladbury up at the garage.
“An old dog for a hard road,” says the old maxim. Mrs. Gladbury, however, had neither the intention nor the inclination to emulate the eccentricities of the old dog.
Mrs. Gladbury was a sensible old lady, and she preferred to ride comfortably on a smooth line rather than be buffeted about on a hard, potholey road.
When the car salesman stepped into the “Tipemup” on the return journey, there was attached to the steering wheel a note, which read:
“I certainly shan't notice the potholes on the return journey. Am going back by train.”
Moral: Travel by rail and see the road beautiful.
Bill Buddle's Free Motor Tour
When Joshua Skidman poked his nose over Bill Buddle's back fence and asked Bill if he and Mrs. Buddle would care to join the Skidmans in a motor tour, Bill accepted the invitation on behalf of the Buddle family with the fervour of a man returning thanks after being prepresented with a cheque for ten thousand and the freedom of New Zealand.
On hearing the glad news, Mrs. Buddle nearly fainted with excitement.
“It's very good of them to ask us,” said Mrs. Buddle; “it will be a cheap holiday.”
“Cost us nothing except the board,” rejoined Bill.
“Of course,” corrected Mrs. Buddle, “we'll have to pay for half the petrol.”
“Even if we pay for all the petrol,” said Bill, “it will be well worth it.”
“Of course,” explained Mrs Buddle, “the Skidmans won't expect us to do that.”
“No, I don't suppose they will,” said Bill, adding as an afterthought, “perhaps they won't expect us to pay for any.”
“I think we should offer to pay for half the petrol,” suggested Mrs. Buddle.
“Yes, that's only a fair thing,” said Bill. “Anyway, seeing the Skidmans have been so jolly decent in inviting us to go with them, we're not going to squabble over a gallon or two of petrol.”
So the great day arrived, and Bill Buddle and his wife set off on their grand free motor tour with Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Skidman.
Seeing that the Skidman's were providing free motor transport for the tour, Bill reckoned it was only a fair thing that he should pay for the luncheons and other incidentals along the way.
In fact, when it came to the settling up for teas, dinners, suppers, lunches, launches, and entertainments, Bill Buddle displayed such a rare talent for generosity, that Mr. Joshua Skidman was content to sit at the wheel and do all the “pulling in” while Bill stood at the cash window and did all the “paying out.”
At one stage of the journey, when a mishap to the car necessitated some repairs Bill offered to pay, but Mr. Skidman firmly protested.
When Mr. Skidman pulled out of the garage, however, and left Bill to pay the account, Bill was smitten with the terrible suspicion that, in spite of Mr. Skidman's protestations, his offer to pay for the repairs had been duly accepted.
One night, as Bill Buddle and his wife sat by the fireside, Bill said: “I was just making up what that free motor tour with the Skidmans cost us. Apart from board and lodgings, and a few other items that we would have had to pay anyway, the tour cost us, roughly eighteen pounds ten.”
“Yes,” replied Mrs. Buddle, “and I was just looking up the railway guide the other day, and I find that if we had travelled by train it would only have cost us seven pounds five.”
Moral: Travel by rail, and put your surplus in the bank.