Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ashley Sterne So That's That!

Another Ashley Sterne comic article, republished in The Urana Independent and Clear Hills Standard (NSW), March 12, 1920.

So That's That!

By Ashley Sterne.

I wasn't surprised when it started to ache. Any tooth would get tired and ache which had had to carry the burden of my wisdom inside it for so many years. My surprise was that it had remained in business so long without wanting to retire.

So one day I took my courage in both hands and a bag of money in the other, and went to find an excavator of molars. I found one in his front garden pulling horseradishes for practice.

"Step in," he cried. "Step right in and take a look at the papers. I will just fetch a gasometer of laughing-gas. and a syphon of cocaine, and then you shall have the time of your life."

I stepped into the dental chamber and read an ancient Bradshaw for a couple of hours. Then the toothmonger came in with the laughing-gas and the cocaine. He threw me into his chair – very comfortable one, totally out of  keeping with the base uses to which it was put – and screwed me up to the third storey.

"Now, if you will open your mouth – " he began. I did so.

"I shan't want to get inside," he added, hastily. "I only want to put this little mirror in, and take a peep round."

So I shut some of it. He then inserted a lot of tools and spread a little d'oyley over my tongue so that I couldn't utter a word.

"Tell me if this hurts," he said, selecting a crochet-hook, jabbing it into my tooth, and twiddling it about all among the wisdom.

I gurgled in the affirmative, and with great presence of mind the toothmonger managed to rescue the mirror, which I had nearly swallowed in my efforts to speak.

"Does this hurt less, or more?" he inquired, pushing the crochet-hook right in and tweaking the nerve with the end of it.

I gurgled wildly, and this time swallowed the mirror completely. I heard it chink against my works as it fell in.

"A trifle tender," he observed. "You must be gassed."

And before I could protest, and say that I preferred electric light to gas, he had filled up the vacant spaces in my mouth with india-rubber wedges, clapped a gas-mask over my face, and was pumping gas into me as if I were R34.

I passed peacefully away a few seconds later. When I came to, I observed the tooth-snatcher standing over me with a radiant smile.

"And so that's that!" he said, jubilantly, holding up a tooth that was apparently full of the very best wisdom.

"What is what?" I asked, as he tossed it into the waste-tooth basket, and tore the india-rubber wedges from my mouth.

"That is what," he said, indicating the disused tooth.

"And what's that?" I inquired, dazed with the gas.

"Two pounds ten and tenpence, exactly," replied the tusk-tinker.  "Ten-and-six for the extraction, one and-six amusement tax, half-a-crown the gas, plus ten per cent, increase owing to Peace prices, a penny for the receipt stamp, six shillings for income tax, and sundries – including fire, lights, boots, and attendance – thirty shillings."

I opened my bag of money and handed him a War Savings certificate, a bank-note for one pound fifteen and threepence, and a packet of pins.

It was not until I reached home, and the effects of the gas had quite worn off, that I realised that the wretched fang-filcher had pulled out the wrong tooth. The dud one was on my upper jaw; he had filched the corresponding tooth on the lower jaw. I felt most annoyed, and thought of going back and insisting on its being replaced.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps it was my fault. You know if you stick a mirror in your mouth and look at your top teeth they look like your lower ones in the mirror? You remember, too, that I accidentally gurgled his mirror into my works? Well, if you put two and two together, you will agree with me, I think, that this extract of wisdom is more likely to be a "that's that" than the other "that's that" that that toothmonger said was what his "that's that" was. What?

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