An artful dodger

sundownerTHE resourcefulness of the English tramp is proverbial (writes ‘Oriel’ in the Melbourne Argus), but his Australian prototype the sundowner, has a genius for turning opportunities to account which his English brother has never understood.

Two specimens of the Australian tramp were camped for the night outside a South Australian town lately, fairly down on their luck. They were both hungry and thirsty, and of bite or sup there was no prospect.

About daybreak an idea occurred to them, and they hurried off towards the township to put it into operation. One went first to prepare the road. Calling at the first hotel he told the landlord how Gilbert, the French pedestrian, who was walking round the world for a wager, was “a coming that way”. What a grand idea it would be to ask him to stop there for a day. It would bring all the boys about and they’d ‘shout’ for him, and spend no end of ‘stuff’.

By-and-by the counterfeit came along at a brisk walk, and the whole populace turned out to cheer him. “Bravo Gilbert”, shouted the crowd. “Come and wet your whistle, old man,” called the landlord, and while the visitor accepted all the hospitality that was showered on him a local sport went round with the hat for a “souvenir”, and the Mayor was sent for to read an address. The pedestrian continued his walk in the evening. A hope is now expressed that he may return that way.

– Gympie Times (Qld.), Saturday 16 April 1898.



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