Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ashley Sterne A Tunnel Tragedy


Here is another Miss Paggs story.



A Tunnel Tragedy.
(The Urana Independent and Clear Hills Standard, NSW.  March 19, 1920)

Funny Adventure with Miss Paggs.

By Ashley Sterne.

My life has been recently blighted, and the blighter is Miss Paggs. To put the whole case in a nutshell, we are engaged, and letters of condolence may be addressed to me, care of the editor.

The affair is most exasperating, and was entirely unintentional on my part. I didn't want Miss Paggs; I'd much rather have had a pound of butter.

You remember that I spent a fortnight at Dazzleton with the Paggs's? Well, Archie Paggs got engaged to the melon-faced girl he met on the pier, and when she moved off with her people to Drizzleton, Archie managed to wangle an invitation to spend a week with them.

Once again he sought my aid to dispose of his sister, though had I seen where my good nature was to lead me I would sooner have given myself up to the police for any old criminal they wanted.

However, I accepted the onus,. and on the day Archie went off with the Melon Plantation to Drizzleton, I and Miss Paggs started back to town.

To keep her occupied on the journey I bought her a box of marsh mallows, a sweet of which I am very fond.

Considering my forethought, I was somewhat disappointed to find that Miss Paggs did not like marsh mallows. They made her teeth ache, she explained. I was glad I had not bought – as I nearly did – a book of chess problems for her. She'd have probably said they gave her earache.

As it was, I was rather hard put to amuse her. There were no other occupants of the carriage, otherwise I might have borrowed an illustrated paper or a magazine for her. However, she got out an unfinished jumper and employed herself with that. All went well, comparatively speaking, until we entered a long tunnel.

For some reason the electric light failed to come on, and I at once got up, in my customary polite manner, to close the window. But no sooner had I got to my feet in the darkness and put out my hand for the window-strap than I suddenly found my arm full of Paggs.

I thought at first she had also risen to close the window, but when she placed her head on my shoulder and her other arm round my neck, I could only think that the marsh mallows had gone to her head, until I remembered that she hadn't had any.

I tried to disentangle myself and push Miss Paggs back into her seat, but only succeeded in whisking something floppy through the window. Then she started whispering in my ear:  "Oh, darling! At last! When I saw you rise with outstretched arms to come to me! But why did you wait for the stupid old tunnel? We've had the carriage to ourselves for the last hour."

Me wait for the tunnel! Ye gods! I realised the horrible mistake she had made, and for a moment dreadful thoughts flashed through my mind.

Miss Paggs continued to blither in my ear, though I haven't the faintest idea what she was talking about, except that she took it for granted that I loved her. When I remembered how she had thrown me into the middle of a Jazz band, pitched me off my motor cycle, and almost drowned me whilst rescuing her from jelly-fish, I really could not see what grounds she had for her assumption, and I laughed out loud.

''I'm so glad it's made you happy, too!" she murmured. "Kiss me, darling." I hastily swallowed the marsh mallow I had been masticating, and kissed her. I understand that I performed this ceremony on her ear, but, as I told her later, the tunnel was so infernally dark, anybody might have made the same slip.

When eventually the train emerged into daylight, the jumper had vanished. "It must have fallen out of the window in the tunnel," remarked my self-imposed fiancee.

"Intelligent garment!" I said to myself, wondering why I hadn't followed it.

"But never mind the silly old jumper," she continued. "I've got you now."

Yes, got me fairly – or rather unfairly.  To-morrow we are going to buy the engagement ring.

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