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4-304 (Text)

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author,male,Demarr, James,78 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Plaint Text :
Public Written
Ward, 1969
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4-304-plain.txt — 3 KB

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My greatest want was something to read, in the matter of books or newspapers. To a person fond of reading, it is no small deprivation to be two or three months or more and never see a book or newspaper. Sometimes, but rarely, we got a newspaper, perhaps months old, but no matter how old, it was always welcome. Going one day to the sheep station opposite, I found they had, by some means, got possession of a book. And what sort of book does the reader think? Not a pleasant novel, but 'Watt's logic, or the right use of reason'. This I borrowed, thinking it better than none; but fond as I was of reading, and although I had so much leisure time, so little did it suit my taste, that I have taken it in hand I may say scores of times, and I do not think I ever had the patience to read it for half an hour before laying it down again. It was the driest book, without exception, I ever read in my life. Its tendency seemed to me to so bemuddle the intellect, that it could not reason at all.
Curious to see how my companions would like the book, I spent about half-an-hour or more, one night, and for the fun of the thing, in reading portions of it to them. They had quite enough of it, and never wanted to hear it read a second time.
This was the only book I could get for about three or four months. I tried the head station, but Mr B., our employer, never seemed to have a book. What books he had were generally borrowed from some distant station. But at last one of the men rode in from the head station, and, with a joyful countenance, handed to me Charles Dickens's 'Nicholas Nickleby', all the more welcome because I had never read it.
Now we were happy; and that night I commenced reading it to my companions, who were delighted; but to shew that there was an innate good nature in these fellows, they advised that the reading should be stopped, until the men of two or three stations near us, had been invited to come and hear it read.  So the next day the news of our good fortune was passed round to the stations, and the men invited to come, and readily did they respond to the invitation.
The book, as a matter of course, was always read at night, and the hut was full of attentive listeners. The nights were cold and frosty, but we always had a glorious log fire, and our only light to read by, was the usual one, a piece of twisted rag stuck into a pint tin full of melted fat. It would have delighted the heart of a philanthropist to have seen how these fellows enjoyed the reading of this book. If I could have read till daylight they would not tire. To see the close attention they gave to the reading, and to hear their remarks at the finish, was interesting and amusing also. To them it was a real life history, and their sympathies were all with the honest and good characters in the story. Two of the listeners came from a station seven miles distant, but as all could not leave their stations, I agreed to read it a second time in order that those who were by necessity prevented from hearing it the first time, might experience the same enjoyment.
After the reading, there was always an animated conversation on the incidents and characters, before the men would disperse to their several homes.