HAINING STREET HOSPITALITY
Convivial Chows Captured
Half a Hundred for the Revenue.
In a quiet upstairs room in a Haining Street shack, Chin Yum Get was the agreeable host. There, after slow years, in New Plymouth and the piling with infinite patience of shilling on shilling, sat Willie Sen. He had sold up his business, and now yearned for recreation and the lighter side of life. There was no talk there in Chin Yum Get's room of the price of tomatoes; such subjects were of a laborious past. On the contrary, there was restful silence. Willie Sen lay on a sofa, and through a delicate haze Chin Yum Get was as comfortably disposed. On a table between them, under a soft green shade, there glowed a lighted slush lamp. Beside it lay the trays and cleaning needles and appurtenances of the opium smoker. There, then, was peace. Of what Willie Sen dreamt or of what magic enchantment stole into Chin Yum Get's stolid mind no one will ever know, but what is known is that the
BAWLING OF AN EXCITED CHOW
at the side door cleared the mist from their eyes very quickly. Chin Yum Get had time only to bundle the two pipes into a bag, together with the incriminating extract of the poppy, and hustle his dopy guest into the passage and on to the stairs when a sergeant of police entered the room by the window. Before a Chinaman could have uttered Jack Robinson, or its laundry ticket, equivalent, Chin threw the bag into a recess under the stairs and turned blandly to confront the man with three stripes on his arm. Chin and Willie Sen looked as if butter would not melt in their mouths, let alone opium, but the bag had been sighted. The sergeant let in his two confreres, and the contents of the bag were brought to light. The bowls of the pipes. were still hot, but Chin Yum Get and Willie Sen were as silent as a couple of Confucian images.
At the Magistrate's Court the following morning Chin Yum Get, the younger Chow, and, for his kind, not bad looking, got his lot over quickly, for he pleaded guilty to having been found
IN POSSESSION OF POPPY ESSENCE
fit for smoking. Lawyer O'Leary, his spokesman for the purpose of the case, was just as slick in what he had to say: "I suggest that a reasonable fine is the best means of increasing the country's revenue. If the fine is heavy he'll go to gaol and become a burden upon the State."
"We have a scale," replied the Bench, "Twenty-five pounds."
Willie Sen looked every inch of a prosperous, retired greengrocer when he appeared later before the Bench with Lawyer Treadwell championing his cause. On the matter of whether he had had opium in his possession, he blew out the match with deliberation and declared that he had not, and that never, never had an opium pipe touched his lips.
Chin Yum Get, having paid the penalty previously, made himself out
A VERITABLE DEMON
for the drug. He declared that he used both pipes, and that when he got tired of one he picked up the other.
"And do you always have two pots of opium and use two cleaning sticks?" asked the Magistrate.
It floored Chin as a blow on the part of the anatomy that bears his name would have done. A Chinaman cannot look foolish, but Chin looked the nearest thing to it.
"That tale is too thin,” said Mr. Hunt in ordering Willie Sen to contribute 25 notes to the revenue.
"We cannot hope to stop it," he added, "but this will help to keep it down.
- HAINING STREET HOSPITALITY, NZ Truth, Issue 880, 7 October 1922 http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTR19221007.2.22