Following the Equator - Chapter XXXI
Text and images from The Oxford Mark Twain and The Gutenberg Project.
Locations and dates for the most part are from Mark Twain Day By Day, a massive work by David Fears
(See notes marked MTDBD).
Mark Twain takes the train from Timaru to Oamaru, in New Zealand. He is impressed. “They are not English, and not American; they are the Swiss combination of the two. A narrow and railed porch along the side, where a person can walk up and down. A lavatory in each car. This is progress; this is nineteenth-century spirit.” This leads him into a satire on his train ride from Maryborough and the hotel in Maryborough. “The government chooses to do its railway business in its own way, and it doesn't know as much about it as the French. In the beginning they tried idiots; then they imported the French—which was going backwards, you see; now it runs the roads itself—which is going backwards again, you see.”
Miriam Jones Shillingsburg, in At Home Abroad, notes of the story: “Although this must surely be a comic exaggeration, corruption and strife in the system were in the newspapers nearly every day while Twain was in Australia, and while in Melbourne, he noted a court decision against transferring return tickets.”