OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
June 10, 1914
Mr. Redmond is said to have vigorously opposed the suggestion that British troops should be sent to Durazzo on the ground that the present is not a time when our home defences should be weakened.
The presence of some ladies on the Holyhead links disturbed Mr. Lloyd George to such an extent, one day last week, that he foozled a shot, and it is reported that the Government is at last contemplating serious steps against the Suffragettes.
"Lord Strathcona's Seat for Sale."
We would respectfully draw Mr. Masterman's attention to the above.
Europe's G.O.M., the Emperor Francis Joseph, is now so well that his doctor's visits have been discontinued, but the statement that he went for a long ride last week on a motor-bicycle is declared to be an exaggeration.
According to The Express there was some little unpleasantness in Paris last week owing to the Chairman of the London County Council claiming precedence over the Lord Mayor. It is thought that this could never have happened had the Lord Mayor taken his coachman with him.
Corsica is now claiming that Columbus was born there, and not in Genoa, and there is much evidence to prove that the claim is well-founded. Still, it seems a little bit greedy of Corsica, which already has some reputation as the birth-place of another distinguished man. It is possible, however, that Genoa may give way if somebody will reimburse her for the very heavy expense of her statue of Columbus.
Owing to a strike the demand for patent-leather boots for Ascot cannot be met, and many visitors to this race meeting will have to spend the day in comfort.
The announcement that the Mappin Terraces at the Zoo have now been opened has, we hear, caused considerable discontent among the animals in the old-fashioned dens and cages. They consider that these too ought to be opened.
By the way these new quarters are proving so popular among the animals that there is some talk of advertising them extensively in Central Africa and other haunts of big game with a view to attracting new tenants to the Regent's Park Garden City.
Regulations for the killing of flies have been issued to the troops at Aldershot. Curiously enough, artillery is not to be employed. One would have supposed that this sport might have afforded invaluable training for bringing down hostile aeroplanes.
From a statement just issued we learn that Mr. A. Lock, of Edenbridge, has slaughtered more than 18,000 queen wasps, and that for eighteen successive years he has secured premier honours for wasp-killing at a local horticultural show. Orders, we learn from an exceptionally well-informed insect, have now been issued to the W. (Wasps) S.P.U. to sting Mr. Lock on sight.
"A census," we read, "is to be taken of all the birds of the United States by the American Board of Agriculture," but we are not told what particulars will be asked for. Probably merely name and address, not religion.
"Pygmalion for Threepence" attracted a large number of the working classes to His Majesty's Theatre in spite of the price being higher than "A Twopenny Damn."
Among the workers' organisations which booked seats was the London Glass Blowers' Society. Hitherto, we understand, the favourite expression of the members of this Society has been the innocuous "You be blowed," and it is sincerely to be hoped that Mr. Shaw's play will not have given these gentle souls a taste for anything stronger.
After holding up an elderly man in broad daylight in an arcade off Ludgate Hill last week two highwaymen ran away and were captured in the Old Bailey. It is thought that the homing instinct took them there.
* * * * *
Hail to the Bard, the simple Bard, Who wrote the little song, And to his Muse, who laboured hard To help the work along. Health to the Candid Friend also Who had his word to say, And to the kindly G.P.O. That sped it on its way.
A blessing on the Editor Who let it see the light; Likewise the patient Printer, for He got the colons right; Here's to the "sub," whose special line Was spacing it to fit, And to the cheery Philistine Who lit his pipe with it.
* * * * *
An Empire Day Essay.
"Dear Teacher,—On Empire day we had a holiday. I had a flag on Frideday. On Fridday I was very happy, was you Teacher when we had a holiday."
* * * * *
"The King has conferred the Grand Cross of the Victorian Order on M. Doumergue, the Premier of France."
And The Sydney Sun heads this "Horrors in France." The Victorian Order, however, is not really so dangerous as that.
* * * * *
THE SIGHTS OF LONDON.
* * * * *
ULSTER FOR SCOTLAND.
"Nil mortalibus ardui est."—Q. Horatius Flaccus.
When Horace made those sound remarks. Showing—in spite of Jove's decree— How mortals rode in impious arks Transilient o'er the sacred sea, How there was not beneath the sun A task so tough but what he'd back us Somehow to go and see it done (Such was the flair of Flaccus);
Little he guessed how wind and tide Should be the sport of human skill; How steel and steam should mock their pride And get the deep reduced to nil; How we should come in course of years, Either by cable or Marconi, To hold across the hemispheres A conversazione.
He'd learn with even more surprise That, after working all this while On ways and means to minimise The severance of isle and isle, Erin we find as far away, As rudely severed by a windy sea, As Athens seemed in Horace' day From old Brundusium (Brindisi).
Strange, too, in yonder hybrid land This myth about a racial knot Binding the gay Hibernian and The dourly earnest Ulster-Scot— Neighbours whose one and only link (A foil to their profound disparity) Is—thanks to some volcanic kink— A common insularity.
Come, let us down this myth in dust; Let statesmen's time no more be spent To fake a "race" from what is just A geologic accident; Let a great brig across the strait, Where Scot to Scot may freely pass, go, And Ulster find her natural mate In consanguineous Glasgow.
* * * * *
A HAZARD ON THE HOME GREEN.
Standing on our front door-step you can see our garden running down at a moderate speed to our front gate. Or, conversely, standing at the front gate, you can see it mounting in a leisurely fashion to the front door. In either case it consists of two narrow strips of lawn bisected by a well-kept perambulator drive. Beyond the grass on either side blooms a profusion of bless-my-soul-if-I-haven't-forgotten-agains and other quaintly named old-world English flowers. On the left-hand strip of lawn, looking gatewards, is the metal pin to which the captive golf-ball is tied. On the right is the pear-tree, to which later on we have to affix a captive pear.
"What I like about the garden," I said to Araminta when we first moved in, "is the fact that it is in front, so that visitors, instead of saying in a perfunctory way, 'Have you got a garden, too? How delightful!' will be forced to murmur, 'How sweet the clover smelt on your lawn as we came up the drive. What a perfectly entrancing golf-ball.' If I must go to the trouble and expense of keeping up a private pleasaunce I want everybody to see the pleasantry of it at once."
"Swank," replied Araminta. She is absurdly early-Georgian in the matter of repartee.
Last Saturday I determined to mow the lawn. I put on my oldest suit of clothes with the now fashionable slit-trouser leg, fastened the green bonnet to the front of the car, and wheeled it out of the tool garage. Araminta went out, saying airily that she would be back to tea. After a little trouble I induced the instrument to graze the left-hand pasture as far as the hobbled Colonel. Then, feeling that my shoulders wanted opening a bit, I went indoors and fetched a brassie-spoon. I suppose I must have been striking with unusual vehemence, but anyway, in playing a good second to the fourteenth green, I sent the pin flying out of the ground. The Colonel broke his parole and dashed rapidly to the topmost boughs of the pear-tree on the right, carrying the rest of the apparatus with him. There was nothing to do but to follow him, spoon in hand.
It was soon evident that the pear-tree had been over-looked during spring-cleaning, for the foliage, though very luxuriant, was in an extremely soiled condition.
I had just located the deserter when I heard feminine voices of unknown proprietorship. It is the habit of quick masterful decisions in important crises that has given to Englishmen an empire on which the sun never holes out, and I decided instantly to remain where I was. If it had been a mashie I might have faced them, but a brassie-spoon out of a lie like that—no.
The callers came slowly up the path, rang the bell, chattered to the servant, left cards, and retired. Without much trouble I could have brained them with the brassie-spoon as they passed beneath me. But some odd impulse of chivalry restrained me. It is blunders like these that have wrecked the plans of the greatest generals. Just as they opened the gate who should appear but—of course—Araminta? "Oh, I'm so glad I've caught you!" she cried. "You must stay and have tea now. We'll have it in the garden. My husband's somewhere about. He said he was going to mow the lawn, but I suppose he was too lazy." Lazy, indeed! Ha, ha! So like a woman.
Peering angrily with one eye out of my leafy ambush, I tried hard to attract Araminta's attention, but all in vain. Chairs were brought out and tea came with some particularly cool-looking sandwiches; cups were filled; spoons clinked; steadily the afternoon wore on. Flecks of fleecy white cloud chased each other in the blue-domed heaven above me. From far away rose the hum of the mighty city. In the next-door garden but two I could see a happy family circle partaking of light sustenance. I think it was nearly an hour-and-a-half before those infernal women left. Araminta conducted them to the gate, said a lingering good-bye, and wafted them down the road with wavings and smiles. When they were safely off the premises I slithered down and confronted her, looking dignified and stern, still holding the ball in one hand and the wooden club in the other.
Instead of bursting into tears, as I had expected, she went off into a fit of idiotic giggles. "You—you don't mean to say you've been up in that tree all tea-time! You are too funny. And you've got a great black splodge over one eye. Do go and wash."
With an effort I controlled my rage. "In future," I said coldly, "when I am—er—mowing the lawn, visitors will be served with tea in the second drawing-room."
"All right, dear," said Araminta; "and in future, when you are mowing the lawn, you shall have yours taken up into the pear-tree."
Women have no sense of humour.
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* * * * *
* * * * *
TO BE OVERHEARD DAILY.
First Luncher. Waiter, bring me the bill, please.
Waiter. Yes, Sir.
Second Luncher. No, I say, old man, this is mine. Waiter, bring the bill to me.
W. Yes, Sir.
F. L. No, waiter, it's mine.
S. L. My dear old chap——
F. L. Yes, it's mine. Get it, waiter.
W. Yes, Sir.
S. L. But I asked you.
F. L. No, I asked you.
S. L. Yes, but I asked you first.
F. L. That doesn't matter.
S. L. Of course it does. And I've been doing all the ordering too.
F. L. That's all right. I'm glad you have. You do it very well.
S. L. Well, I want to pay.
F. L. Oh, no, my dear fellow. It's my lunch. I've been feeling like the host all the time.
S. L. So have I. I haven't felt like a guest at all. It's my bill.
F. L. I couldn't hear of it. You came here to lunch with me.
S. L. Upon my soul, I thought you were lunching with me. I asked you, you know.
F. L. You can't deny I asked you; I said, "We'll lunch together next Thursday," didn't I?
S. L. That's all right, but I swear I asked you first. It was because I had asked you that you said what you said.
F. L. Well, I look on it as my lunch, anyway.
S. L. Then why did you let me order the things and send back that wine?
F. L. That's all right, old man. You've been lunching with me to-day. Next time I'll lunch with you.
S. L. I'm not satisfied with it. I consider this my lunch.
F. L. No, no. It's mine. Here's the waiter.
S. L. Waiter, let me have that.
F. L. No, waiter, give it to me.
S. L. (snatching the bill, glancing at it, and hastily slamming down a sovereign). That's all right, waiter. Keep the change.
W. Yes, Sir; thank you, Sir.
F. L. Waiter, don't take that money. This is my affair.
W. Yes, Sir.
S. L. It's all over now, old chap. It's paid. Come along. (Gets up.)
F. L. (producing a sovereign). That's for the bill, waiter. I don't know anything about that other money.
S. L. But it's paid. It's done with.
F. L. Oh, no. You mustn't do that. It's my lunch. I asked you, you know. Why, I told my wife this morning that you were lunching with me to-day.
S. L. I asked you first, you know.
F. L. I don't think so, old chap; I don't indeed.
S. L. I assure you I never had a shadow of doubt about it. I took it for granted that you knew you were lunching with me and I was the host. Otherwise should I have made that fuss about the omelette? Should I now?
F. L. I was very glad you did. I felt that you felt at home.
S. L. It puts me in such an awkward position. Really, I should take it as a personal favour if you'd let me pay.
F. L. No, no. No, no. This is my affair. I asked you.
S. L. I asked you first.
F. L. No, no. No, no. Come along. Here's your sovereign.
S. L. Well, I consent, but under protest. Next time you really lunch with me.
F. L. Right-o. I'd love to.
* * * * *
"Lines of an alliterative character will occur to anyone who has read much poetry. There is a notable example in Shelley's 'Skylark.'
'Singing still dost roar, and roaring ever singest.'"
Dublin Sunday Independent.
A man we know does this much better than any skylark.
* * * * *
The Daily Chronicle (of Kingston, Jamaica) informs its readers that "According to Theopompus, a waiter of the fourth century B.C., the Epirots were divided into fourteen independent tubes." The waiters of Epirus must have found this a great convenience when ordering meals from the kitchen.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Vagaries of the Moment.
Dearest Daphne,—This is completely a jewel season. People may be just as glittery as they like. Heads, necks and arms don't monopolise the pretty-pretties now, and, what with jewelled tunics, girdles, shoes, stockings and "Honi soits," as well as gems on what little corsage and skirt one may be wearing, one's jewel-box may be quite quite emptied every evening. Indeed, if we hadn't plenty of jewels I sometimes wonder, my dear, what our grande toilette would consist of! And this has led to the launching of "Olga's" latest triumph, the lock-up evening wrap—a charming affair, thickly plated with sequins and fastening with the dearest little real locks all down the front from the throat to the toes!
A propos, Beryl Clarges had such a darling adventure the other night. She came out of the opera, meaning to go on to the Flummerys' and one or two more places, with all her pretty-pretties on, and fastened securely into her lock-up wrap. She got into her car suspecting nothing. But it wasn't her own chauffeur and footman at all, Daphne! It was two delicious robbers who'd managed to get possession of her car; and they drove her out to Hampstead Heath and held a pistol to her head and said, "Now, my lady, you've got on about thirty-thousand pound worth of sparklers. Hand 'em over quietly and we won't hurt you." And Beryl didn't turn a hair (she says) but answered, "You silly boys! I'm locked into 'Olga's' new thief-proof wrap and you can't get anything but my shoes. My maid always locks me in and lets me out, and she's got the keys and you've left her behind!" And they tried to wrench the wrap open, but it resisted, and Beryl put in some piercing g's in alt., and help came and the robbers fled. And now she's the woman of the moment, and her picture, standing on Hampstead Heath in her lock-up wrap, defying ten robbers, is in all the weeklies.
Some people say it was all managed by her publicity agent, and others declare it was a put-up thing between Beryl and "Olga." Anyhow, the new "manteau de surete" is absolutely booming, and entre nous, cherie, people who never wear anything more valuable than sequins and paste are quite falling over each other to get thief-proof wraps!
There's quite a little rage among girls just now for boxing. Juno Farrington, the Southlands' girl, is responsible for it. She's been the acknowledged leader of the jeunes filles since she first came out and has set the fashion among them in everything, from inventing a new cocktail to chaperoning her chaperon. (It was Juno who first started the custom at parties of doing all the after-supper dances in the street and finishing up the night at an early coffee-stall.) The Duchess of Southlands was making her little moan to me the other day, and I told her she ought to be so proud of dear Juno having temperament and personality. "Temperament and personality are all very well, Blanche," said the dear little invertebrate woman, "but worried mothers wish they didn't develop till after marriage! If Juno's grandmamma knew how modern she is she'd leave everything she has to charity." Indeed it's a constant effort for her parents to hide their girl's modernity from the dowager—a dear old disapproving piece of antiquity whose youth dates from remote ages of blushing, fainting, accomplishments and downcast eyes. She's an immense fortune to leave, and Juno (so far) is her heiress; but the girl seriously imperilled her prospects during the very last visit the Southlands had from the dowager. The latter was doing her everlasting knitting one day when she called out, "Here, Juno, child, come and help me. I've dropped a stitch." And Juno went to her and looked about on the floor and said, "Where did you drop it, Gran? I don't see it anywhere!"
I'd a little dinner-dance on Thursday and Juno was one of several girls who brought their mothers. "Oh, my hat and feathers!" she called out as she looked over the menu; "none of your a la dishes for this child! Sorry, old girl, but I'm in training. Will you order broiled steak and pale ale for me? I'm going to box Tricky Sal, the coloured girl-boxer from the Other Side. Wonder how she'll like my upper-cut and left-hand jab! Isn't it glorious, people? I've got my ambition! I'm a White Hope! See if we don't fill the Colidrome at our Grand Boxing Matinee!"
"Girlie," pleaded la mere, "you're joking! You wouldn't dream of boxing except before just relations and intimate friends!" "Relations and intimate friends be somethinged!" cried Juno. "I'm going to box in front of the good old public! And the gate shall go to your Holiday Home for Melancholy Manicurists, mother dear." "My only one, my Melancholy Manicurists are quite quite in funds," urged the duchess; "we want nothing for them." "Don't worry your little head, dear," said Juno; "they've got to be helped and that's all about it!"
So the matinee at the Colidrome is to come off. The piece de resistance will, of course, be Juno Farrington and Tricky Sal. Then the Dunstables' two girls, Franky and Freckles, have promised a sparring match if their mother doesn't get to hear of it down at Dunstable Castle (they're going out with their aunt this season). Beryl and Babs will wrestle. And they want me to give a show with the Indian clubs (no one does them quite as I do, but I'm not a bit vain about it). Every seat is sold already!
I believe people never had such a horror of bores and banality as they have now—owing chiefly to the influence of our Anti-Banalite Club. Silent dinners, at which one communicates only by wireless, are a good deal done and are quite nice and restful, the general atmosphere (if someone tainted with banalism seems inclined to speak) being, "I know what you're going to say. Please—please—please don't say it!" On a little dinner of this kind at Bosh and Wee-Wee's last week there descended a terrible man, a far-away cousin of Wee-Wee's, who hardly ever leaves his terres in some remote part of the country—the sort of creature, you know, dearest, who always has a colour and a smile and an appetite and who writes to the papers to say he's seen a bush growing upside down or has heard the cuckoo singing in the night or has plucked and eaten something in his garden in December! He began by mentioning the weather! People quite jumped in their chairs, and Popsy, Lady Ramsgate, gave a little scream. He followed this up by saying town seemed full; and then, a propos of having run up against a college friend in town, informed us that the world was a small place after all! When this last enormity was let loose upon us Norty said solemnly, "Where's the nearest point policeman?" And, instead of taking the hint, the creature began to hold forth about "that fine body of men, the London police!" Wee-Wee was in sackcloth and ashes about it afterwards. She says that sort of thing is in his family.
I had a serious talk with Norty about the Irish problem yesterday, and he tells me there's a whisper in the Lobbies that certain persons have already sold the kinema rights of the first Irish Parliament to a film company for a colossal sum and, as the money is spent and the company is incessantly jogging them to deliver the goods, they're bound to put the thing through! It's said that someone asked a Member of the Government point-blank whether there was any truth in the rumour, and was told, "The answer is in the negative-affirmative, Sir!"
* * * * *
[Sir Alfred Mond states that there is absolutely no foundation for the announcement made in some newspapers that a peerage is to be conferred upon him and that his name is to be included in the list of this year's birthday honours.—Daily Chronicle.]
"No bally fear! I won't be a peer; I've given my bond," Says Sir Alfred Mond; "But it won't make me scunner If they elevate Brunner."
"A belted earldom's far beyond My poor deserts: it must be Mond. He's so distinguished, such a stunner In every sort of way," says Brunner.
"As a thorough-going democrat I always travel steerage; I'd sooner eat my Sunday hat Than take a nasty Peerage; Such sops the snobbish crowd may soothe, But not yours truly, Handel Booth."
"As a simple Knight I'm quite all right, But to make me a peer Would be rather queer; It might also disturb Sir George," says Sir Herb.
"This time you've backed the winning horse, I'm bound to be a Duke, of course; But wait and see—the slightest hitch Might altogether queer my pitch; So mum's the word," says Little Tich.
"The rumours of Our elevation Are totally without foundation. On peerages We turn Our backs, Signed with Our seal, Revue-King Max."
"He that on frippery sets his heart May purchase titles such as Bart.; These garish gauds my spirit spurns, I'm greater as I am," says Burns.
"Yon tale aboot ma Coronet Is comin' off, but not juist yet; Aw'm haudin' oot for somethin' smarter, For choice the Thistle or the Garter; Whichever ribbon is the broader A'll tak wi' joy," says Harry Lauder.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE COMPLETE DRAMATIST.
II.—Exits and Entrances.
To the young playwright, the difficulty of getting his characters on to the stage would seem much less than the difficulty of finding them something to say when they are there. He writes gaily and without hesitation "Enter Lord Arthur Fluffinose," and only then begins to bite the end of his penholder and gaze round his library for inspiration. Yet it is on that one word "Enter" that his reputation for dramatic technique will hang. Why did Lord Arthur Fluffinose enter? The obvious answer, that the firm which is mentioned in the programme as supplying his trousers would be annoyed if he didn't, is not enough; nor is it enough to say that the whole plot of the piece hinges on him, and that without him the drama would languish. What the critic wants to know is why Lord Arthur chose that very moment to come in—the very moment when Lady Larkspur was left alone in the oak-beamed hall of Larkspur Towers. Was it only a coincidence? And if the young dramatist answers callously, "Yes," it simply shows that he has no feeling for the stage whatever. In that case I needn't go on with these articles.
However, it will be more convenient to assume, dear reader, that in your play Lord Arthur had a good reason for coming in. If that be so, he must explain it. It won't do to write like this:—
Enter Lord Arthur. Lady Larkspur starts suddenly and turns towards him.
Lady Larkspur. Arthur! You here? (He gives a nod of confirmation. She pauses a moment, and then with a sudden passionate movement flings herself into his arms.) Take me away, Arthur. I can't bear this life any longer. Larkspur bit me again this morning for the third time. I want to get away from it all. [Swoons.
The subsequent scene may be so pathetic that on the hundredth night it is still bringing tears to the eyes of the fireman, but you must not expect to be treated as a serious dramatist. You will see this for yourself if you consider the passage as it should properly have been written:—
Enter Lord Arthur Fluffinose. Lady Larkspur looks at him with amazement.
Lady Larkspur. Arthur, what are you doing here?
Lord Arthur. I caught the 2.3 from town. It gets in at 3.37, and I walked over from the station. It's only a mile. (At this-point he looks at the grandfather clock in the corner, and the audience, following his eyes, sees that it is seven minutes to four, which appears delightfully natural.) I came to tell Larkspur to sell Bungoes. They are going down.
Lady Larkspur (folding her hands over her chest and gazing broodingly at the footlights). Larkspur!
Lord Arthur (anxiously). What is it? (Suddenly) Has he been ill-treating you again?
Lady Larkspur (flinging herself into his arms). Oh, Arthur, Arthur, he bit me this morning——
And so on.
But it may well be that Lord Larkspur has an intrigue of his own with his secretary, Miss Devereux, and, if their big scene is to take place on the stage too, the hall has got to be cleared for them in some way. Your natural instinct will be to say, "Exeunt Fluffinose and Lady Larkspur, R. Enter Lord Larkspur and Miss Devereux, L." This is very immature, even if you are quite clear as to which side of the stage is L. and which is R. You must make the evolutions seem natural. Thus:—Enter from the left Miss Devereux.
She stops in surprise at seeing Lord Arthur and holds out her hand.
Miss D. Why, Lord Arthur! Whatever——
Lord A. How d'you do? I've just run down to tell Lord Larkspur to——
Miss D. He's in the library. At least he——
Lord A. (taking out his watch). Ah, then perhaps I'd better——
[Exit by door on left.
Miss D. (to Lady L.). Have you seen The Times about here? There is a set of verses in the Financial Supplement which Lord Larkspur wanted to——(She wanders vaguely round the room. Enter Lord Larkspur by door at back). Why, here you are! I've just sent Lord Arthur into the library to——
Lord L. I went out to speak to the gardener about——
Lady L. Ah, then I'll go and tell Lord——
[Exit to library, leaving Miss Devereux and Lord Larkspur alone.
And there you are. You will, of course, appreciate that the unfinished sentences not only save time, but also make the manoeuvring very much more natural.
So far I have been writing as if you were already in the thick of your play; but it may well be that the enormous difficulty of getting the first character on has been too much for you. How, you may be wondering, are you to begin your masterpiece?
The answer to this will depend upon the length of the play, for upon the length depends the hour at which the curtain rises. If yours is an 8.15 play you may be sure that the stalls will not fill up till 8.30, and you should therefore let loose the lesser-paid members of the cast on the opening scene, keeping your fifty-pounders in reserve. In a 9 o'clock play the audience may be plunged into the drama at once. But this is much the more difficult thing to do, and for the beginner I should certainly recommend the 8.15 play, for which the recipe is simple.
As soon as the lights go down, and while the bald stout gentleman is kicking our top-hat out of his way, treading heavily on our toes and wheezing, "Sorry, sorry," as he struggles to his seat, a buzz begins behind the curtain. What the players are saying is not distinguishable, but a merry girlish laugh rings out now and then, followed by the short sardonic chuckle of an obvious man of the world. Then the curtain rises, and it is apparent that we are assisting at an At Home of considerable splendour. Most of the characters seem to be on the stage, and for once we do not ask how they got there. We presume they have all been invited. Thus you have had no difficulty with your entrances.
As the chatter dies down a chord is struck on the piano.
The Bishop of Sploshington (L2 10s. a week). Charming. Quite one of my favourites. Do play it again. [Relapses into silence for the rest of the evening.
The Duchess of Southbridge (35s. per week, to Lord Reggie). Oh, Reggie, what did you say?
Lord Reggie (putting up his eyeglass—they get five shillings a week extra if they can manage an eyeglass properly). Said I'd bally well—top-hole—what?—don'cherknow.
Lady Evangeline (to Lady Violet, as they walk across the stage). Oh, I must tell you what that funny Mr. Danby said. [Doesn't. Lady Violet, none the less, trills with happy laughter.
Prince von Ichdien, the well-known Ambassador (loudly, to an unnamed gentleman). What your country ought to do——[He finishes his remarks in the lip-language, which the unnamed gentleman seems to understand. At any rate he nods several times.
There is more girlish laughter, more buzz and more deaf-and-dumb language. Then
Lord Tuppeny. Well, what about auction?
Amid murmurs of "You'll play, Field-Marshal?" and "Auction, Archbishop?" the crowd drifts off, leaving the hero and heroine alone in the middle of the stage.
And then you can begin.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
A THEATRICAL REVIVAL.
* * * * *
THE NAKED TRUTH.
[A correspondent, having failed to let his property through the ordinary channels of advertisement, falls back upon "Mr. Punch's" help, having noticed in his pages several examples of the charm of Commercial Candour.]
House to be Sold, with Garage—or can be let alone; detached (owing to subsidence of soil); standing on its own ground (except for a small portion which is lying in neighbour's yard). There are three stories: (1) that it is haunted, (2) that it is unfit for human habitation, (3) that it is mortgaged up to the hilt. The title is undisputed.
The house faces N. and S.—or did when last inspected. It commands a magnificent view of the back gardens of the next street, where a weekly regatta is held every Monday. For lovers of music there is a piano next door and five gramophones within audible distance; an organ plays every Saturday at the house opposite.
The sky-light affords an unobstructed view of the firmament—not surpassed in the wilds of Scotland.
The garden is small, but cannot possibly be overlooked even by the most short-sighted and unobservant. The soil is very fertile, grass growing readily under the feet. The presence of the early bird indicates an abundance of ground game. There is some fine ancient timber in a corner, possibly the remains of a bicycle shed.
On the ground floor are three sitting-rooms, each with standing room also; every one of them is a study. There is no actual smoking-room, but one can be improvised in a moment by lighting any of the fires. There is a large attic suitable for a billiard-room for short men. The wine-cellar contains fifty cubic feet of water, thus ensuring a uniform temperature; there is a large collection of empty bottles, which could be left. The water supply is constant, so also are the applications for rates. The drains on the property are immense. There is gas all over the house. Summonses are served at the door, and the tradesmen call many times daily and wait if you are out.
The owner is obliged to go abroad for private reasons and must dispose of the property at once. The house, being concrete, can be seen at any time, or an abstract can be had on application to the Caretaker who is within—or should be. If not within will be found at the "King's Arms" next door. For particulars apply to Phibbs and Gammon, Jerry Buildings, Wapping.
* * * * *
"Dr. A. M. Low, of Shepherd's Bush, states that he has discovered a process by which photographs can be sent four miles."
To show him that the discovery is an old one we are sending him ours. By special messenger-boy process.
* * * * *
"On the concluding day Major Orman and the officers of the battalion were At Home to the station. The ladies of the latter assembled in their smallest frocks."—Rangoon Gazette.
And in these days they can be very small indeed.
* * * * *
ART AT THE CALEDONIAN MARKET.
* * * * *
A SPORTING OFFER.
(Written after a contemplation of one of our outer suburbs, and on hearing of the threatened lock-out in the building trade.)
Can this be true? that hodmen strike? The very thought my soul bewilders. Has Art, has beauty got no spike To perforate the breasts of builders?
Her bricky teeth flung far and wide, On virgin fields my London browses, The amaranthine plains are pied With nutty little bijou houses.
Here Daphne makes the junket set Or squeezes from the curd the pale whey, And drone of bees holies the Met- ropolitan and District Railway.
Here Amaryllis tends the hearth Till, home returning from the City, Her Damon comes to weed the garth (Which makes his hands most awful gritty).
Here in the golden sunset's haze Is love, I ween, no whit less hearty Than when it walked in soot-grimed ways, But, oh how chic and oh how arty!
The cots themselves are spick and span, Filling with awe the gross intruder; Their style is early Georgian, Which looks like measles mixed with Tudor.
Through little panes be-diamonded The scented dusk comes softly stealing; When you get up you strike your head Severely on the timbered ceiling.
And some break out in sudden wings And bloom with unsuspected gables; The cubic area of the things Prevents one getting round the tables.
To weave such nests, so fair, so coy, Should be the workman's bonum summum, To me it were all mirth, all joy To paint, to whitewash, or to plumb 'em.
Far other was the task of thralls Who had to rear these inner suburbs, Piling the sad Victorian walls Where each wan window laced its tub-herbs.
Small wonder had they cried, I wis, Shedding large tears amongst their mortar, "We cannot build such streets as this Without two extra pints of porter!"
But now—ah well! Here is a bard Long versed in wild extravaganza, Knowing the foot-rule, and to lard With purple bits the pounding stanza;
A little weary of the harp, Metres and rhymes that fail to dowel, Willing to turn from pains so sharp To some soft labour with the trowel.
Sooner than let our love-birds pine For post-impressionistic dwellings, With all the windows out of line And curious humps and antic swellings,
The motley Muse's maundering nous Cares nothing what the union rate is, If any young things want a house I'll build the kickshaw for them gratis.
* * * * *
Another Impending Apology.
"We are glad to hear that Canon N. S. Jeffrey has latterly made such good progress that he is now able to bet downstairs each day."—Gazette-News for Blackpool.
* * * * *
"She was slightly troubled with sore chins, and went to the post in scratchy fashion."
* * * * *
"THE SINCEREST FLATTERY."
* * * * *
* * * * *
AN ADVANCE FINALE.
There is an idea already fermenting in the brains of many publishers that their present method of printing personal assurances as to the merits of their new productions is unsatisfactory. It is felt that these eulogies are open to the suspicion of prejudice and should be replaced, or supplemented, by the advance publication of the final chapter of the author's work. Mr. Punch, anxious to promote this excellent change by the publication of a specimen finale, has pleasure in anticipating the fifty-first, and concluding, chapter of Mrs. H-mphry W-rd's projected romance, The Winning of Aurora; and he is convinced that his readers will not rest till they have secured the remaining fifty chapters.
Aurora let fall the book she was reading, a celebrated pamphlet on the Oxford Tractarian movement, in a cover which was a miracle of Italo-Moroccan tooling, and gazed thoughtfully at the scene before her. Viewed thus in outline, her head in repose had something of the delicacy of a Tanagra figure, while to the eye of a connoisseur the magnificent yet girlish torso might have recalled a Bacchante by Skopas. To her right rose the rugged sides of Garthfell, purple and scarlet in the subdued light; to the left was Felsbeck, and from her feet the ground fell away abruptly till it met the immemorial woods of Supwell. Among them Aurora could distinguish the massive Boadicean keep of Supwell Castle, strangely yet harmoniously blended with the neo-Byzantine portico of white marble designed by Inigo Jones for the thirty-first Earl. She remembered vaguely that she was attending a reception there to-night; but her gaze soon left the noble pile—so typical of all that is best in English architecture—to rest upon the humbler neighbouring group of Lowmere cottages. In one she knew old Ralph, the shepherd, was dying of a painful form of spinal catarrh, directly attributable to the cesspool at his front door; in another the mother of fifteen children was nursing the only remaining one through an attack of mumps, and in a third the breadwinner was lying in the malignant grip of abdominal influenza. Aurora mentally reviewed the chief points of Socialism, Individualism, Syndicalism and Socinianism, as represented by the select group of thinkers to which Cecil belonged.
Following a noiseless footman in the gorgeous Supwell liveries, Mrs. Lovelord and Aurora took up their position under a rare palm at the head of the great ebony staircase, which a royal personage was said to have coveted, and watched the Earl and Countess receive their guests. Mrs. Lovelord's keen eye noted that the Earl was standing on the Countess's train, a priceless piece of Venetian point which had once belonged to the Empress Theodora. Aurora's attention was attracted by a tall grey-haired man wearing the Ribbon of the Garter half-hidden under a variety of lesser decorations; he was talking eagerly, vivaciously to the notorious Duchess of Almondsbury. Cecil, who had joined Aurora at once, whispered that the man was Professor Villeray.
"They say he knows every crowned head in Europe," he said. The great scientist was relating anecdote after anecdote of the people he had known—Charlemagne, Machiavelli, Newman, Dickens, the Shakspeares, father and son. There followed a racy story, inimitably told, of Miss Mitford in her less regenerate days. Aurora turned away.
"Would you care to take a turn through the rooms?" Cecil asked. "The Rembrandts are in tremendous form to-night—what?"
The house was one of historic interest and importance, with that blend of magnificence and domesticity so typical of all that is best in English life. Aurora's eyes wandered from the massive emerald chandeliers, the envy of every connoisseur in Europe, to Raphael's masterly "Madonna," which, with a daring harmony by Sargent, filled the niches on either side of the great mantelpiece, itself a triumph of the art of Niccola of Pisa.
"There's Sir John. I didn't think he'd be here with all this rumpus over the Bill," said Cecil. The Prime Minister was deep in conversation with the Marquis of Falutin, P.T.O., Q.T., R.S.V.P., the famous diplomat, whose recent intervention in the Nice imbroglio had saved the European situation. Aurora could see the flashes of his wit illuminating Sir John's saturnine countenance. Her further progress was barred by Lady Highflyer, who nodded to her, and said to Cecil, whose petite intimite with all this great world struck Aurora anew:
"You heard Philip's got Jericho?" He nodded. "Such a relief. The Duke's delighted, of course, especially after poor Erskine's fiasco, or perhaps I should say fiancee. He's infatuated, I hear. Only L20,000 a year between them! Ah, there's Madeline Duchess. Well, a rivederci."
She passed on, her dress, which had taxed the resources of the first modistes of the day, Rue de la Paix, trailing heedlessly over the priceless Aubusson. Aurora turned to find the Home Secretary at her elbow. Instantly she was all eagerness and vivacity.
"Will there be a division?" she asked.
"Dear lady," he replied, "qui vivra verra. The Anabaptists are up in arms, but——" He screwed his glass into his eye. "Had anything to eat?" he asked, as three of the footmen passed with a jewelled tray of Peches Melba. "A Benvenuto Cellini, if I am not mistaken," he continued, tapping the tray with his ring, a unique Pompeian intaglio of Venus Anadyomene with the iynx. "The plates are fourteenth-century Venetian. The only other set is in the Vatican, you remember." He removed a drop of the Earl's champagne from his moustache. "Ah, I see Cantoforte's going to sing. Marvellous man! I remember him in Paris in the 'forties—the roaring 'forties, as poor Dizzy called them."
"He only plays when Royalty's present," a woman behind Aurora whispered, as the great artist broke into Palestrina's Andante Furioso. "They say he charges a thousand a minute."
A memory of the Lowmere cottages assailed Aurora. At last she saw her way clearly. Never had she so realised the possibilities of life.
"I will marry Cecil," she said to herself. "With his brains, a million a year, and the breeding to which only the highest circles can attain, we will regenerate England."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"On Saturday last, an up-country woman attempted to commit suicide by laying herself across the rails. At that time the second up Passenger train was passing but slowly and the cow-catcher of the train almost touched the woman. The Driver stopped the train with great pluck."—Times of Assam.
* * * * *
I have four milk-boys as pets. They don't know it, but I cultivate an intimate knowledge of their habits and study them as, once, years ago, I was wont to study white mice and goldfish. I have watched their development, listened to their song, and have made several interesting discoveries about them.
When, after a hard evening's reading, perhaps, I jot down a few notes and tumble into bed at 1 A.M., I do so with the delightful certainty that at 6.30 the first of my pets will rouse me with his mellow warbling. He (Number One) looks always on the bright side of things and probably belongs to a club for incurable optimists, for he intersperses his roulades with cheery spells of whistling. Should Number Two, who is a pal of his, loom through the early morning mist with the lark and the first motor-bus at the other end of the Terrace, no false modesty deters him from making himself known; he gives a view-halloo that startles every drooping cat in the district. He informs Number Two, while that person is yet nebulous, a mere blur on the cosmos, that he went to the local Empire last night, and that it was a bit of all right. With an intermittent rumble he elicits the information that Geor-r-rge (that's Number Two's name) went to his local Palace and had a treat of a beano. And when they meet—exactly opposite my dwelling is the favoured spot—the Can-can is performed with variations. Jolly fellows are One and Two.
As for Number Three, I could tell you a little story about him. He has had a love-affair. There was a time when he too joined in the dance and song, as one might say; but all that is over for him. One morning he turned up late, his usual merry call changed to a croak like that of a bull-frog virtuoso. I peered between the curtains to make sure that it was not Number Five (as yet hypothetical); but no—it was Three, with a look on his face that could only bear one interpretation. Belinda had been perverse, unkind, icy—had, in fact, thrown him over. You could read it in the angle of his cap, in the broken lace dragging from his boots, in his shuffling progress, and in the dulled gleam of his brass-mounted cans. From that date he became a frowning pessimist, perpetrating wheezes and squeaks and mumblings, quaverings and hoarse murmurs, instead of the customary sportive yelp. 'Tis an unkind world, according to Number Three.
Number Four generally arrives as the lingering chatter of his predecessors dies away. He is rotund, judging by his voice (I have not yet seen him); also I should say that he goes in for physical culture. For, by the sounds that ascend to my window, his procedure is as follows: he unhooks the empty can from the railings of the opposite house and dashes it violently upward against the wall, catching it on the rebound. This action he repeats a few times just to get into form; it is, as it were, a muscular prelude. Then, taking seven or eight empty tins from his trolley, he juggles with them, not very expertly, for some of them break away into neighbouring areas and have to be retrieved; or he will set the whole lot in the road and kick them round for five minutes, brilliantly and wonderfully. This warms him. Picking them up, he spends a relatively quiet interlude in sorting out the one he wants, then fills it, bangs the lid down, and rehangs it in position. Having repeated the process with the remainder, he glows with a sense of duty done, and bursts into his farewell song; I often wish that it was his swan-song. He produces in this vocal valediction noises which to the ears of a Futurist composer might seem as Olympian music, but which to my insufficiently educated taste are merely excruciating.
These, then are my four pets. I value them, for they teach me self-denial and self-restraint; they rouse me at an hour when I might otherwise be lost in slothful sleep; and they assure me that there is a sphere in which taxes and politics really do not matter in the slightest. Some day, I suppose, they will grow up. What will become of their talents in the world of men it is beyond me to imagine. But Number Four seems to have the makings of a politician.
* * * * *
* * * * *
TWO EYES OF GRAY.
"Sprats should be cooked very fresh. Their condition can be ascertained by their eyes, which should be bright."
How cold the culinary mind That household care absorbs! Can the observer really find Within yon sparkling orbs No message, nothing further than A fitness for the frying-pan?
For oh, in that pathetic gaze What crowded memories dwell! What wistful dreams of briny days Beneath the surging swell, Ere fate had seized this little fish And plumped him on an earthen dish!
Methinks I see him even now, As late he sailed along With smiling and unruffled brow Amid the finny throng, No gladder, gayer sprat than he In all the caverns of the sea.
With what a rapture would he tweak The casual kipper's tail, Or nimbly sport at hide-and-seek Around the whiskered whale! (Do whales that haunt the ocean wave Wear whiskers? Some do, others shave.)
And, when by hunger overcome He felt a trifle limp, What joy within his vacuum To stow the passing shrimp, And afterwards to sink and snooze, Soft-cradled on the nether ooze!
Ah, yes, as I behold those eyes So bright, so crystal-clear, I feel within my own uprise A sympathetic tear; But supper's call one must obey, And so I dash the drops away.
* * * * *
ANOTHER INFORMATION BUREAU.
A Pretty Thought—Tipsters—Our Feathered Friends—A Guide to Manners—Aiding his Suit.
A Pretty Thought.
After reading that a number of letters have been written to the King on his birthday by school children, my wife and I have decided that our little girl, Clara, who is just six, shall write one for next year—or possibly for Christmas—and we should be glad of your counsel in the matter: as to how his Majesty is addressed, how to make sure that the letter reaches him and receives proper attention, and so forth. Is there any intermediary with whom one should get upon good terms?—J. U. T. (Haggerston).
Your question is a very natural one, and we are glad to be able to reply to it. The habit of writing to His Majesty is growing. He should be addressed on the envelope as—
His Majesty, Buckingham Palace, near Victoria Station, S.W.,
and the envelope should be marked "Private" or "Personal," to ensure his getting it. By a piece of great good fortune for you one of the papers has very considerately published specimens of letters just sent to His Majesty, and you can make those your model. The most suitable is perhaps this—
"Dear King George,—I wish you many happy returns of the day. If I had one pound I would buy a suit of clothes with ten shillings and a watch for the other ten shillings. I hope you will have a long and fruitful reign."
Is not that charming in its naivete and whole-hearted delight in the opportunity of congratulations and good wishes? We wish your little Clara all success.
I receive every day circulars from gentlemen who assure me that they know for certain the winners of forthcoming races and asking me to let them send me this information for a consideration. Do you think I should be wise in doing so? Naturally I want to make my fortune.—H. M. (Epping).
We reply to your question by asking another. How is it that these gentlemen, with all their advantages of foreknowledge, are still so anxiously in business?
Our Feathered Friends.
Can you tell me how I can obtain information as to the means of identifying the songs of birds? I hear a great many near our house in the country, but I cannot put names to them. I am told that when Colonel Roosevelt was last in England Sir Edward Grey took him for a long walk in the New Forest to instruct him in English ornithology. Do you think he would take me? I am a strong Free Trader and have traces of American blood.—B. B. L. (Dorking).
Sir Edward Grey, we fancy, has other things to do. You had better write to "W. B. T." of The Daily Mail, or in his regrettable absence to "P. W. D. I."
A Guide to Manners.
I have a son for whom I desire a political future. What I should like to get for him is a Member of Parliament who would converse with him on statecraft, the British constitution and so forth, but it would have to be one who was jealous for the honour and dignity of the House, and I need hardly say that I should not care for a Liberal. Can you give me any hints?—J. K. (Henley).
We strongly recommend Mr. Ronald McNeill, Mr. Amery, Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke, or Lord Winterton.
Aiding his Suit.
Although an utterly unathletic man I am paying court to a lady who dotes upon male proficiency in games. How would you advise me to forward my cause?—M. L. G. (Harrow).
We should advise you to put yourself into knickerbockers and a golfing attitude and be photographed. Judging by their present contents, there is not a paper in the country that would not be glad to print the picture, and then you could show it to the lady and win.
* * * * *
A WELCOME FLAW.
"You look worried," said Diana, "very worried, dear."
I smiled sadly. "It can't be helped," I said.
"Did you like my cake?"
"Very much; it wasn't that. I am a little worried, Diana."
"What a pity. Will you have some more, dear?"
"No, thank you."
Diana leant forward and cut a very large slice.
"No, really, thank you," I insisted.
"Right; this is for me."
"Diana," I said, "I've something on my chest." She looked surprised. "Yes, there's something on my chest. I speak in a spiritual sense."
"Well, hadn't you better tell me what it is, dear?"
"I will," I said stoutly. "Diana, this—this engagement can't go on." There was no fire in the room, so I gazed blankly into the radiator.
"What on earth do you mean, Dick?"
"It can't go on," I repeated.
"Why? Dick, you're joking."
"Joking!" I laughed a hollow mocking laugh. "Don't make it hard for me, Diana."
She crossed over and sat on the arm of my chair.
"Are you feeling ill, dear?" she inquired ever so sweetly.
For a moment I nearly gave way; then, with a tremendous effort, I braced back my shoulders.... Diana fell heavily to the floor.
"Darling," I said as I picked her up, "I'm so sorry; I didn't see you were sitting so near the edge. I'm——"
"All right," she replied. "And now what is it? You haven't changed towards me?"
"Diana—I—oh, it's difficult."
"Yes, dear. Go on."
I gazed into the carpet. "I must begin at the beginning. I—it's difficult."
"Yes, dear; we've agreed about that."
"In the first place," I began, "I am a man of the utmost integrity."
"That doesn't matter, and, anyway, you're quite a dear."
I bowed gravely. "I try to look at things from a high standpoint," I continued. "Now, Diana, I consider you are perfect. I love you intensely because you are so perfect."
"Don't be silly, dear."
"I mean it. On the other hand, I know myself very well indeed."
"You think so."
"I do. And I have come to the conclusion, after many racking hours, that I am not worthy of you. The proper course, the only course, is for me to release you." And I sighed heavily.
"Well," said Diana, "of course it's a very pretty idea, and I'm glad you're so fond of me, but the whole thing's absurd. I've accepted you and there's an end of it."
"Diana, you're making it very hard."
"I'm making it impossible."
"No," I declared, "because—I release you now."
Diana fingered her handkerchief. "D—Dick, I refuse to be released. It's too silly for w—words. Come over here."
With a great effort I didn't get up; instead I gazed at the ceiling.
"Diana," I said, "I'm disappointed in you. I'm trying to do the right thing, the noble thing, and you mustn't stand in my way. You've no right to stand in my——"
"Anyhow, I'm going to."
"You know," I said, "this puts me in a very awkward position—very awkward. Diana, you must see my point of view."
"You mean you won't. I had expected more of you."
Diana smiled. "I thought you considered me perfect."
"Well, you see, dear, I'm not."
I sighed. "I'm afraid not," I said. "I fear not."
Suddenly I sat up. "Good Lord!" I exclaimed. "Hooray!"
"What is it?"
"Don't you see? This puts matters on an entirely different footing. Darling, you don't want me to do the right thing, therefore you're not perfect."
"No; that's settled."
"Well then, you don't deserve a perfect husband."
"I don't want one."
"That's not the point. You don't deserve one."
"No," said Diana.
"Then that's all right," I said; "because you won't get one." And I cut myself a large slice of cake.
* * * * *
[Chairman (at Friendly Lead, proposing toast of the performers). "All the hartists have give their services free, and I think you'll agree with me, gentlemen, that the labourers are worthy of their hire."]
* * * * *
THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
["It is impossible for me to dine out either in private or in public without having those confounded telephones mentioned to me."
She was so young but fair to see; Her eye conveyed the glad regard; She murmured to the P.M.G. That life was very, very hard (It never crossed his mind that she Was double seven five Gerrard).
She spoke of love, as ladies will; He thought it no affair of his; "I cannot say," he said, "until You tell me what your trouble is;" So while he ate and drank his fill She told him all about it, viz.:—
"Augustus, handsome, tall and lean, Excels in every kind of sport; Such perfect men have rarely been, And cash with him is never short; His words are few and far between; He is the strong and silent sort.
"His courage is sublime, and yet His manly shyness is absurd; Of all the girls he ever met It was myself he most preferred; He'd try and try, but couldn't get His wretched tongue to say the word.
"Speech was to him a foreign art. He hired a poet of repute, Learnt yards of eloquence by heart, Came, full of it, to press his suit; At sight of me forgot his part ... What could I say when he was mute?
"But there are ways and means for those Who like to sit and blush alone, And, undetected, to propose In phrases other than their own ..." (The P.M.G.'s suspicions rose; This sounded like the telephone).
"And this, on second thoughts, was what Augustus hit upon, and he Affirmed a passion, strong and hot. Where one might hear but none might see, And was accepted on the spot, But not, confound you, Sir, by me.
"Yours was the fault, you monster, who, Unmoved, unblushing, dare to dine!" Her victim turned a little blue And cleared his throat and muttered, "Mine?" "Yes, yours!" she cried. "You put him through (For good) to double seven nine!"
* * * * *
"I am afraid," I said, "that I shall have to withdraw my permission."
"Withdraw your what?" said the lady of the house, emphasising every word scornfully.
"Yes," I said, "I shall have to forbid you to go."
"It's not a bit of good," I said, "laughing like that. Laughter only adds fuel to the fire that is raging in my breast. I am going to forbid you to go."
"Don't waste your forbiddings," she said, "I'm not banns, and I won't be treated as such. Besides, even banns are never forbidden in these days."
"Yes, they are," I said. "A bann was forbidden last week. A father of eighty years, infuriated by the imminent desertion of a daughter of fifty-five, got up in church at the third time of asking and said, 'I object. Who's going to look after me?' The clergyman nearly swooned."
"And the unfortunate objecter was carefully removed by his friends. I don't see that that's much of a help to you."
"Anyhow," I said, "I won't have it."
"It's too late to talk like that. In half-an-hour I start for Sandy Bay to stay with Violet. My luggage is already at the station."
"Yes," I said, "and you leave me here alone to look after everything."
"Well, what of that?" she said. "Don't you often leave me alone here to look after everything?"
"Ah, but that's different. When I go away rien n'est change; il n'y a qu'un Anglais de moins."
"My own Parisian one!" she murmured.
"The mistress-mind remains and things go on being controlled. Lord love you, my absence makes no difference."
"What you mean is," she said, "that you simply can't get on without me. Isn't that it?"
"If you put it in that way," I said, "you can't expect me to admit it."
"Well, it comes to that, doesn't it?"
"What I mean to say is that it's your fault."
"Aha," she said triumphantly, "I knew you'd mean to say that sooner or later. Everything's my fault, of course."
"It is," I said, "an arguable proposition."
"And how do you prove it in this particular case?"
"Easily," I said. "You have neglected to train me for the daily work of a household and a family."
"You never asked to be trained," she said.
"No," I said, "I was too proud and too sensitive. I did not come to you and say, 'Let me beard the cook in her fastness. Let me order the sirloin of beef for the mid-day meal. Let me rebuke the housemaid, or raise her wages, or give her notice,' or whatever it is that one does in the case of a housemaid. I did not ask that I too might be allowed to talk bulbs or Alpine plants to the gardener. I did not plead that I might order dresses or medicine for the girls, or watch over John's putting to bed. All these things, because you were haughty about them, I left to you; and you—what did you do?"
"I generally went and did them."
"And that," I said, "is just what I complain of."
"You wouldn't have liked it," she said, "if I hadn't."
"You ought," I said, "to have taken me into your counsels, instead of leaving me to eat out my heart in total ignorance of all the things that make the world a happier and a better place. Votes for women, indeed! First let there be homes for men."
"Shall I ring for a glass of water?" she said.
"There must be no sarcasm," I said. "This is too serious for sarcasm. Besides, think what will happen."
"John," I said, "will fall into the fishpond."
"You can have his clothes dried."
"No," I said, "I shall spank him. It is my only remedy."
"Peggy will tumble off her bicycle and cut her knee."
"Anyhow, you can't spank her for that."
"And there will be a message from the kitchen to say that there are no mutton cutlets in England."
"You can eat beef or chicken."
"And Rosie will have to see the dentist, and Helen will want to go out to tea, and there will be holes in all their boots; and ladies whom I have never seen will call on you and will be shown in on me. Oh, it is a terrible prospect!"
"It does sound rather blood-curdling," she said.
"And, after all, why do you want to go to Violet's?"
"She asked me, you know. That's one reason. And I shall be able to look round for lodgings in August."
"Are we going to Sandy Bay in August?"
"Yes; didn't you know? And I shall have four days of perfect peace."
"You won't. You and Violet will disagree about hats, or the colour of a dress, or the education of children, or the true way of putting men in their proper place. It isn't everybody who agrees with you as I do."
"Yes, I know I shall miss you every minute of the time—that's what you wanted me to say, wasn't it?"
"Yes, that was it. You really do know how to lead me by a silken thread."
"And I shall probably get my breakfast in bed. You'll think of me, won't you, when you're breakfasting with the children? And don't let John have jam every day."
"I shall give him," I said, "a pot for himself."
"Good-bye," she said, pressing a paper into my hand. "I've written down some things that must be attended to."
"I shan't attend to them," I shouted, as she walked off.
"Breakfast in bed," she called back.
R. C. L.
* * * * *
THE EARTHLY HADES.
["I could reel out such a list of notorious Yorkshire criminals ... as would put every other county utterly out of the running."—Extract from recent letter to "The Pall Mall Gazette."]
Bah! to your boasts of the blackguards of Lancashire; Tush! to your talk of the rascals of Staffs; Come, let me openly mention as rank a shire (Yorks) as you'll find for the riffest of ruffs; Choose all the pick of your Cheese-shire or Pork-shire men, Men who have sunk in the deepest of mud; Deuce of a one can come near to us Yorkshiremen Born with Beelzebub's blue in our blood.
"Nuts" who have long left the strait way or narrow gate Swarm on each side of the Swale or the Ouse; Huddersfield vies in its villains with Harrogate; Satan in Sheffield would shake in his shoes; Hull?—though you might not be driven to drat it, you'd Certainly substitute "e" for its "u," And, from a purely unprejudiced attitude, We should pronounce it the worse of the two.
Yorks has a side, you see, surely more sinister Far than the shires that would snatch at her fame; So, when you curse at our present Prime Minister, Calling him every conceivable name, We shall accept 'em with sangfroid and phlegm, as he Gives you this practical proof of his powers, Setting his seal to our sinful supremacy, Seeing he comes from this county of ours.
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A FRUGAL MIND.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
I have reason to believe that Scotland Yard has on occasion displayed considerable intelligence, and I regret that novelists will never allow it to be as cunning even as myself in guessing the identity of the villains of their criminal plots. Mrs. Charles Bryce, for instance, might, without unduly taxing the imagination, have credited the Force with the coup of bringing to justice the murderer of Mrs. Vanderstein, but she went out of her way to employ that marvellous amateur, Mr. Gimblet, for the purpose. I must believe that he was marvellous, because she says so; but in this case he did nothing and had little opportunity of justifying his references. He merely believed what he had the luck to be told and caused the miscreant to be arrested when of his own motion he practically offered himself for arrest. There are, after all, two phases of crime—the first, its commission, and the second, its detection. Mrs. Bryce would have done better to confine herself to the former, since she has an exciting tale to tell of Mrs. Vanderstein's Jewels (Lane) and shows herself well able to curdle the blood in the telling of it. But, lacking that gift of logic which is essential to the stating and the solving of detective problems, she endeavours to achieve her ends by keeping back what are admitted, and not discovered, facts. She is reduced to telling the same story twice, and I cannot say that I was nearly as excited the second time as I was the first.
Once upon a time King James, being annoyed with the City because it wouldn't lend him money, summoned the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to his presence and, "being somewhat transported," threatened to remove his Court to some other place. To this the Lord Mayor very politely but readily retorted, "Your Majesty hath power to do what you please and your City of London will obey accordingly: but she humbly desires that when your Majesty shall remove your Court you would please to leave the Thames behind you." I think this single instance from the history of the City goes far to explain that peculiar pride in it which the Londoner instinctively feels without exactly knowing why. I have not space to argue with Sir Laurence Gomme upon his main point, its continuity of policy and purpose from the Roman Empire till to-day, shown by the records of London's past. I leave it to the scholar and antiquary. It is my purpose to persuade the man in the street, to whom the names of Palgrave, Freeman and Stubbs are not household words, to buy a copy of London (Williams and Norgate) for inclusion in his permanent library. If I should insist upon his reading it then and there he would reply, as one ignorant fellow to another, that he had not the necessary understanding of the remote past and was too preoccupied with the affairs of the present. Be it so, but none the less let him buy it and at any rate glance at its many curious and admirable illustrations. Later he will dip into it in search of further episodes after the manner of that I quote, and lastly he will do the thing thoroughly, to find that he is much more concerned with the past than ever he supposed; that now he understands that "greatness which is London," and that he is infinitely obliged for the recommendation of a not-too-learned clerk who shared his own diffidence, even reluctance, in approaching so learned and weighty a treatise.
I am sure that Miss Constance Holme has, in The Lonely Plough (Mills and Boon), written a clever and amusing novel. What she has not done is to make herself intelligible. Some of the mist that enwraps the background of her frontispiece has obscured her story and her characters. I know that she is writing about lively and entertaining people because there emerges, now and then, a page of dialogue that is witty and alive; and I know that her story is dramatic because she tells us now that someone "let out a screech," and now that he "uttered sharp little sounds remarkably like oaths." I know, too, that the sea is encroaching upon somebody's dwelling-place, and that someone else tries to keep the waves in their place, but is no more successful than was the great King Knut of blessed memory. Then there is a fine figure of a land-agent and several ladies who talk the snappiest of slang. But the mist and the sea have swept across Miss Holme's pages and blotted out the rest of the affair. Not Meredith nor Robert Browning at their most complex have been more baffling. I must admit, however, that the description of a game of mixed hockey, somewhere in the middle of the book, was delightfully fresh and vivid. Here, for a page or two, I could rest from my grapplings with the story and join in all the excitement and peril, that mixed hockey provides. Then there is Harriet, who says, "Stow all that piffle." I should like to know more about Harriet, who from that brief glimpse of her seems a lively vigorous person, but the encroaching sea swallows her with the others, and there is an end. I repeat that Miss Holme has written a clever dramatic story, but the title is certainly the clearest thing about it.
When Mr. Calthrop's at his best He weaves you tales of fauns and elves, And ancient gods come back to test Their humour on our modern selves; He finds romance in common clay; He lifts the veil from fairy rings, And points the unfamiliar way Of looking at familiar things.
And at his second best, or less, His graceful manner still redeems With easy charm and cheerfulness More hackneyed, less seductive themes; Each page has something witty, wise, Well-turned, fantastic or jocose— Each page of Breadandbutterflies, From Mills and Boon, six shillings (gross).
Even though it has been seared by the tragic end of a youthful liaison ("It was in France, you know," and that seems to explain all to Minella Drake, daughter of the Vicar of Goldringham) the heart of a Sussex taxidermist appears to be exceptionally tender. Seldom can Tom Murrow, through whose eyes we view the scenes and incidents of Mr. Tickner Edwardes' Tansy (Hutchinson), have sealed up badger or squirrel in its glass morgue without shedding on the fur some glistening tribute of tears over a village sorrow. So much of his time in fact is occupied by conversations of a sentimental nature with the two Wilverleys (whose aged father, Mark, by the way, having retired from active life on his farm, habitually talks in rhymed couplets) that he can have had as little leisure for stuffing specimens as he had to discern the love gradually growing up for him in the bosom of Minella, his guileless confidante. The background of Tansy consists in the shepherd's seasons of the Sussex downs (for Tansy, a splendid type of advanced though rustic womanhood, is a shepherdess), and the plot of the story is that of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, with the convenient variation that the villain of the piece, having his pockets stuffed with cartridges, disappears (as villains should) in a cloud of malodorous smoke. Mr. Tickner Edwardes' knowledge of rural life and scenes is as thorough as his description of them is charming, and, if the general impression conveyed by Tansy is a little too idyllic for those who have been brought up in the rough school of Wessex agriculture, it is pleasant for a moment to lend ourselves to the illusion of his sunny romance.
Unattractive as Sophia Ree was in many ways, I frankly admit that she was a lady of mettle. A stockbroker's typist, with a fortune of L2,000 and a salary of a few shillings a week, she no sooner obtained inside information about the floating of The South Seas Coastal Rubber Development Company than she decided to apply for 2000 shares. They were allotted to her, and in consequence she became a most important person. In fact, she had only to say "Gugenheim" to her employers and she had them at her feet. Why this was so you must discover for yourselves; all that I, who am no expert in financial matters, can tell you is that somehow her 2000 shares seem to have given her a position of enormous power in the company, and that the Gugenheim man wanted to buy her out. Her sister Judith kept bees and was an extremely good woman. I never got really to understand her; and her wonderful power of seeing into the future, which does not often go with apiculture, left me unimpressed. The trouble with this book of Mr. E. R. Punshon's is that the parts of it do not seem to fit into a symmetrical whole, but, at any rate, a study of The Crowning Glory (Hodder and Stoughton) has greatly improved my knowledge of the behaviour of bears and bulls and bees.
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GOLF AND THE DRAMA.