PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1914.
The Deutsche Tageszeitung says:—"Our present war with England shall not be done by halves; it is no war to be stopped by 'notice,' but by a proper settlement. Otherwise the peace we all desire would be both rotten and dangerous." Your wish shall be respected, Deutsche Tageszeitung.
* * *
The fines which Germany has been imposing so lavishly on towns and provinces will, a commercial friend informs us, ultimately prove to be what are known in City circles as "temporary loans."
* * *
By the way, The Globe tells us that the KAISER was once known to his English relatives as "The Tin Soldier." In view of his passion for raising tin by these predatory methods this title might be revived.
* * *
The German threat that they will make "Gurken-salad" of the Goorkhas, leaves these cheery little sportsmen undismayed.
* * *
We give the rumour for what it is worth. It is said that, overcome with remorse at the work of his vandals at Louvain, the KAISER has promised when the war is over to present the city with a colossal monument of himself.
* * *
Meanwhile President WILSON is being urged by innumerable tourist agencies in his country to stop the war before any more historical buildings are demolished.
* * *
A number of the more valuable of the pictures in the Louvre have, with a view to their safety, been placed in cellars. La Gioconda is to be interned at an extra depth, as being peculiarly liable to be run away with.
* * *
Strangely enough, the most heroic single-handed feat of the war seems only to have been reported in one paper, The Express. We refer to the following announcement:—
"AUSTRIAN WARSHIP SUNK By J. A. SINCLAIR POOLEY Express Correspondent."
* * *
It is stated that the German barque Excelsior, bound for Bremen with a valuable cargo, has been captured by one of our cruisers. It speaks well for the restraint of our Navy that, with so tempting a name, she was not blown up.
* * *
A proposal has been made in The Globe that all "alien enemies" in this country shall be confined within compounds until the end of the War. Suggested alteration in the National Anthem: "Compound his enemies."
* * *
"Carry on" is no doubt an admirable motto for these times, but the Special Constable who was surprised by his wife while carrying on with a cook (which he thought to be part of his professional duty) complains that it is misleading.
* * *
We hear that some of our Nuts have volunteered to serve as regimental pets.
* * *
Partridge shooting began last week, but poor sport is recorded. The birds declare that it is not their fault. They turned up in large numbers, but there were not enough guns to make it worth while.
* * *
Illustration: The Thinker. "YOU SAY THIS WAR DON'T AFFECT YOU: BUT 'OW, INSTEAD OF A BRITISH COPPER SAYIN', 'GIT AHT OF IT,' WOULD YER LIKE ONE O' THEM GERMAN JOHNDARMS TO KEEP PRODDIN' AT YER WIF 'IS BAYNIT?"
* * * * *
The Gibraltar Manner.
"GIBRALTAR LIFE NORMAL. Ladies Making Garments."
* * * * *
THE TWO GERMANIES.
Marvellous the utter transformation Of the spirit of the German nation!
Once the land of poets, seers and sages, Who enchant us in their deathless pages,
Holding high the torch of Truth, and earning Endless honour by their zeal for learning.
Such the land that in an age uncouther Bred the soul-emancipating LUTHER.
Such the land that made our debt the greater By the gift of Faust and Struwwelpeter.
* * *
Now the creed of NIETZSCHE, base, unholy, Guides the nation's brain and guides it solely.
Now MOZART'S serene and joyous magic Yields to RICHARD STRAUSS, the haemorrhagic.
Now the eagle changing to the vulture Preaches rapine in the name of culture.
Now the Prussian Junker, blind with fury, Claims to be God's counsel, judge and jury.
While the authentic German genius slumbers, Cast into the limbo of back numbers.
[Footnote 1: Great play is made in STRAUSS'S Elektra with the "slippery blood" motive.]
* * * * *
The Late "Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse."
First Student of the War. Why did they call it "Kaiser William the Grocer?"
Second Student. Don't know. I should have described him as a Butcher.
* * * * *
NEW NAME FOR THE RUSSIAN CAPITAL.
PETROGRAUD (St. Petersburg), Tuesday.
By Imperial order, the city of St. Petersburg will henceforth be known as Petrograu."
It looks more like three new names.
* * * * *
Q. I hear the Sugar Refiners are raising cane?
A. That's because they haven't yet got the German beet.
[Awarded Gold Medal and Banana Skin for worst joke of the war.]
* * * * *
FOR THE RED CROSS.
Ye that have gentle hearts and fain To succour men in need, There is no voice could ask in vain, With such a cause to plead— The cause of those that in your care, Who know the debt to honour due, Confide the wounds they proudly wear, The wounds they took for you.
Out of the shock of shattering spears, Of screaming shell and shard, Snatched from the smoke that blinds and sears, They come with bodies scarred, And count the hours that idly toll, Restless until their hurts be healed, And they may fare, made strong and whole, To face another field.
And yonder where the battle's waves Broke yesterday o'erhead, Where now the swift and shallow graves Cover our English dead, Think how your sisters play their part, Who serve as in a holy shrine, Tender of hand and brave of heart, Under the Red Cross sign.
Ah, by that symbol, worshipped still, Of life-blood sacrificed, That lonely Cross on Calvary's hill Red with the wounds of CHRIST; By that free gift to none denied, Let Pity pierce you like a sword, And Love go out to open wide The gate of life restored.
The Red Cross Society is in need of help. Gifts should be addressed to Lord Rothschild at Devonshire House, Piccadilly.
* * * * *
A BRUSH WITH THE ENEMY.
"I think we may advance to attack," said the Prussian Commander, folding up the Berliner Tageblatt War Map.
"One moment, Sir," interposed the Chief of Staff, "the supply of captured alien women and children is exhausted."
"Then," said the Commander, "we shall be forced to confront the enemy's fire without the usual screen."
"Why not advance under a flag of truce?" suggested the Chief of Staff.
"I am loth to violate the canons of civilized warfare," said the Commander, "but really there seems no other way, unless—unless—— Here! Hand me a telegram form. I have an idea."
The Commander wrote rapidly for a minute. "Send this at once," he said, "and pre-pay the reply."
In an hour the answer arrived. The Commander tore it open with eager haste. "We are saved!" he cried. "The advance commences at daybreak to-morrow." He tossed the telegram over to the Chief of Staff, who read:—"Am forwarding immediately per special train 1,000 foxes as requested.—Hagenbeck, Hamburg."
And the KAISER, reading the Commander's despatch later in the day, mailed his Super-strategist the insignia of the Order of the Double-faced Vulture.
* * * * *
DIARY OF A KAISER.
Sunday.—To-day has witnessed another triumph for the high-souled German army. Ten Belgian villages have been burnt. Some of the inhabitants have been also burnt; the rest have been driven out to starve. This will teach Belgium not to build villages in the way of a possible German advance. General von Schweinehund was in command of the noble German column. Have telegraphed my supreme congratulations and have conferred upon him the Iron Cross. How splendidly God is behaving in these days.
Monday.—It is stated that in East Prussia a village has been burnt by the Russians during a battle. This is monstrous, and must be stopped at once. Have sent a protest to the TSAR and have telegraphed to neutral countries pointing out that Russia is spreading barbarism, whereas Germany is spreading civilisation and culture. A reply has come from America; it contained only one word—"Louvain." That may be meant for humour, but I do not understand it. The Americans must not forget that Louvain was burnt by German troops, and that being so there can be no complaint. Have told my Court Chaplain, Dr. Meuchler, to draw the Divine attention to this infamy on the part of the Russian Huns.
Tuesday.—Six Belgian mayors and five hundred selected Belgian villagers have been shot by my gallant troops. One of them had sneered at Lieutenant von Blutgierig as he sat at breakfast. The Belgians are indeed a stiff-necked race, but with God's help they shall be made to understand the sympathetic gentleness of the German character. But to sneer at a man in uniform is an inconceivable crime worthy only of an Englishman. The lieutenant has had to go into hospital to recover from this shameful treatment. He is a true German and shall be rewarded.
Wednesday.—Ordered three cathedrals to be razed to the ground. Forget how many ordinary churches have been destroyed. All Belgian and French universities are to be at once bombarded and burnt for failing to recognise superiority of German intellect. Have just read noble book by Professor Lumpenthor, who proves that CAESAR, HANNIBAL, ALEXANDER, HOMER, VIRGIL, SHAKSPEARE, NAPOLEON, ATTILA and GENGHIS KHAN were all Germans. He seems to fear that we modern Germans are too merciful. This is no doubt true, for the Belgians are not yet reconciled to us as their God-appointed masters.
Thursday.—Our wonderful navy continues its magnificent deeds. Two Danish boats and an English trawler have been sent to the bottom by mines in the North Sea. Have commanded religious services to be held in all German churches to thank God for all His mercies.
Friday.—Have arranged everything with Turks, who will shortly intervene with their army to help Germany to spread civilisation and the Gospel. Hear that England is about to use Indian troops. This, being an attack on German culture, cannot be allowed. Unless something is done about it shall countermand religious services.
Saturday.—Have ordered all remaining Belgian villages to be burnt and inhabitants to be shot. This will please my glorious troops. The Divine blessing is evidently on our cause.
* * * * *
"The Rev. N. J. POYNTZ, M.A., is appointed a chaplain on the Bengal Establishment.
Add to European Crises."—Pioneer.
It can't be as serious as that.
* * * * *
"Lost, Appendix, heart shaped, short chain attached."
Sunderland Daily Echo.
It must be a very fierce one to have bitten through its lead.
Illustration: INDIA FOR THE KING!
* * * * *
Imperial Patron of Art. "DON'T TROUBLE ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS; JUST GET A BROAD EFFECT OF CULTURE." [A well-known battle painter of Duesseldorf has been commissioned by the KAISER to make studies of the present campaign.]
* * * * *
HIS FIRST VICTORY.
"Yes, I like the kit," she said, "and I'm glad you came to show yourself, because I've got a little present for you." He winced.
"I ought to say," he remarked, "that I have already received five barbed-wire-cutters, three vacuum flasks, eleven comforters, six writing blocks——"
"Oh, but this won't take up any room," and she held out a woollen helmet of the popular colour.
"Thanks awfully," he replied, drawing back, "but I never wear them."
"Of course you don't," she said; "they're not meant for tennis tournaments or the opera, but for the campaigner whose lodging is on the cold bare ground. In fact when once he gets it on he never wants to take it off again."
"From the look of it," he remarked, "it will be a case of Hobson's choice. You've underrated the size."
"I took your measurements last week," she said coldly.
"But that was before I joined the colours. You forgot to allow for subsequent developments."
"In any case the wool stretches," she observed. "Are you going to try it on?"
"It will play the very deuce with my hair," he objected.
"Very well," she said. "Dick shall have it."
"Never," he exclaimed, and snatching up the woollen object, began to ram his sleek head into the small aperture at the bottom.
Halfway through, apparently yielding to panic, he sought to return to fresh air and the light of day, but her hands ruthlessly seized the elaborate crochet edging, and pulled and tugged it down mercilessly towards his shoulders until his distorted features appeared at the hole in front with a pop, and she clapped her hands in delight.
"It fits you like a glove," she cried, "and though your nose is a bit red you look quite handsome."
"I'm being strangled," he gasped, clutching at his throat; "take it off!"
"In time of war," she observed, "we all have to put up with a little inconvenience. I shall soon be living on turnips, for instance, and you know how I hate them."
With a strange gurgling in his throat, he collapsed on the Chesterfield. His face grew purple, his eyes bulged and rolled, his veins swelled, his head dropped forward. She grew alarmed.
"Are you really choking?" she exclaimed. "Here, take your hands away. Let me help! Good gracious! Darling! Oh! Whatever shall I do?" She sprang for her scissors, and in a moment the helmet lay on the carpet hopelessly mutilated.
"Thanks," he replied, smoothing his ruffled hair. "In another minute the Germans would have missed their billet."
"Neither you nor Dick will be able to wear it now," she said, and her lip trembled.
"Dick won't," he said, "and as a matter of fact I'm going to."
"How can you?" And there was a catch in her voice.
"Not on my head perhaps, but on my heart—or rather," he added, slipping a khaki arm round her, "on the place where my heart used to be."
Next morning, on parade, his chest measurement was the object of universal envy.
* * * * *
THE TWO RECRUITING SERGEANTS.
Upstairs, Baby, after many false starts, had finally settled into sleep. Downstairs, the little maid, alternately rattling knives against plates and saying "S'sh" to herself, had cleared away dinner. John, who had been strangely silent during the meal, was in his deep arm-chair, smoking. It was Mary's peace-hour.
She lay on the sofa, for she was always tired by now, reading the morning paper—her first chance at it. As she read, she made little comments aloud, as that the Germans were beasts, or that it was splendid about the Russians doing so well; and this was the signal for John to join in with the latest strategic gossip from the City.
Only to-night he didn't. He just sat smoking and thinking ... thinking.
"I suppose the French," said Mary, lazily, "are going to—— John!" She looked across at him suddenly, realizing all at once that he had answered none of her questions, knowing all at once that something was the matter.
"Yes?" he said, coming out of his thoughts with a start.
"John, you—," she sat up with a jerk and craned her head forward at him—"you haven't been dismissed?" She clenched her hands tight for the answer. Sometimes at night, when he was asleep and she wasn't, she would wonder what they would do if he were dismissed.
"Silly, of course not," said John with a laugh.
She gave a sob of relief and went over and sat on his knee and put her arms round his neck.
"Oh, John, I was so frightened. But what is it? There's something."
He smoked rapidly for a little. Then he put his pipe down, kissed her, and lifted her off his knee.
"I want to tell you something," he said; "but you mustn't look at me or I couldn't. Sit down there." She curled herself up on the floor, leaning back against his knees. "Mary"—he swallowed something which had stuck in his throat—"Mary, I've got to enlist."
She was round in a flash.
"What do you mean you've got to?" she cried indignantly. "That beast going to make you?" The beast was John's employer, a kindly man, whose fault it was to regard John as one only among many, a matter on which Mary often longed to put him right.
"No," said John. "But—but I've got to."
"Who's making you, then?"
"I don't know ... I suppose the GERMAN EMPEROR really."
"There's lots that ought to go before you go. You've got a wife and a child. Let those without go first."
"I know," said John doggedly. "I've thought of that."
She threw her arms round his neck in a sudden passion. "You can't leave me, John, you can't! I couldn't bear it. Why, we've only been married eighteen months. How can you want to go away and leave me and baby and—— Why, you might get killed!" Her voice went up to a shriek.
"I don't want to leave you," said John, a strange, terrifying, rapid-speaking John; "I hate it. I hate war, I hate fighting, I hate leaving you—oh, my God, how I hate leaving you, my darling! I've prayed to God all day to stop the war before I have to go, but of course He won't. Oh, Mary, help me to go; don't make it harder for me."
She got off his knee; she brought a chair up opposite to him; she sat down in it and rested her chin on her hands and looked straight at him.
"Tell me all about it," she said. "I'm quite all right." So he told her all about it, and she never took her eyes off his face.
"A man came into the office to-day to talk to us about the war. The Governor introduced him—Denham, his name was ... I knew he was all right at once. You know how you feel that about some people ... He said he thought perhaps some of us didn't quite know what to do, and he wondered if he could help any of us ... Said of course he knew that, if we thought England was in danger, we'd all rush to enlist, but perhaps we didn't quite know how much England was in danger, and all that England stood for—liberty, peace, nationality, honour and so on. In fact he'd come down to see if any of us would like to fight for England ... Said he was afraid it was rather cheek of him to ask us to defend him, because that was what it came to, he being too old to fight. Said he knew some of us would have to make terrible sacrifices, sacrifices which he wasn't in the least making himself. Hoped we'd forgive him. He couldn't say that if he were as young as us he'd enlist like a shot, any more than he could say that if a woman jumped off Waterloo Bridge on a dark night he'd jump in after her. On the whole he thought it would be much easier to pretend he hadn't noticed. In fact that's very likely what he would do. But if someone, say the mother of the girl, pointed out the body to him, then he'd have to come to a decision. Well, he was in the position of that mother, he had come down to point out the body. He confessed it wasn't the job he liked best, pointing out bodies for other people to save, but he was doing it because he thought it might be of some service. That was what we all had to realize, that it was a time when we had to do things we didn't like. 'Business as usual' might be a good motto, but 'Happiness as usual' was a thing we mustn't expect ..."
John fell into silence again.
"What else did he say?" asked Mary, still with her eyes fastened on his face, as though she were looking at him for the last time.
"That was how he began. I can't tell you all he said afterwards, but I felt as if I'd just fight for him, even if there was nobody else in England ..."
"Aren't there lots of people who wouldn't mind going as much as you?" said Mary timidly. "I mean men with no wives or children. Oughtn't they to go first?"
"I suppose they ought. But, you see, you'd never get anywhere like that. A would wait for B who was married but had no child, and B would wait for C who wasn't married but had a mother, and C would wait for D who was an orphan, and so on. That's what Mr. Denham said."
"I see," said Mary miserably.
"I don't quite understand what we're in the world for," said poor John, "or what the world's for at all. But I suppose the great thing is that—that good ideas should live and bad ideas should die ... I haven't done much for good ideas so far, I'm not the sort of person who could ... just one out of thousands of others ... But I could do something for good ideas out there. I could help beat the bad idea of War ... Mr. Denham says if we win there's lots of men, all the best and cleverest in the country, who are pledged to see that there shall be no more war. Well, that's what I call a good idea ... only we've got to win first."
"I know it sounds a wretched thing to say, but what about money?" asked Mary hesitatingly.
"Mother would take you in; there'll be enough to pay her something. We might try and let the house."
And then all the memories of summer evenings and happy Sundays rushed upon Mary and she broke down.
"Our little garden of which we were so proud!" she sobbed.
"The Belgians," said John sadly, "were proud of their little gardens."
* * *
So far Recruiting Sergeant Denham. Meanwhile Recruiting Sergeant Flossie had also got to work. Flossie, awaked by the shock of war to the surprising fact that, after twenty-two years of vain, idle and inglorious life, she was now of the most complete unimportance to her country, had (for the first time) a sudden longing to "do something." And so, being unfitted for needlework, nursing or the kitchen, she adopted eagerly the suggestion of some stupid and unimaginative old gentleman, and constituted herself (under God) Supreme Arbiter of Men's Consciences for the South-West Suburbs of London. Patriotically aglow, she handed out white feathers to all the un-uniformed young men she chanced to meet ... the whitest of all coming to John, as he made his way next morning to the recruiting office.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
Illustration: Old Servant (to lady who has just returned to her week-end cottage). "DREADFUL THIS NEWS ABOUT THE WAR, MUM; AND YOUNG MR. KENNETH AWAY WITH THE FLEET, AND ALL THE GENTLEMEN ABOUT HERE RECALLED TO THEIR REGIMENTS, AND THERE'S BEEN A DISASTER I MUST TELL YOU ABOUT. THE MOTH HAVE GOT INTO THE DRAWING-ROOM CARPET, MUM."
* * * * *
HOW WILL YOU TAKE IT?
I sometimes doubt whether my bank takes me really seriously. Not that it isn't businesslike. They let me know to the minute when I have overdrawn my account by five and elevenpence; but they cash my cheques with a certain air of patronage, whereas, if you look at things properly, the patronage is all on my side.
Every Saturday morning a man comes to my bank to cash a cheque for a hundred and fifty pounds. (How he gets through all that money in a week I have never had the courage to ask him.) Every Saturday morning I come to my bank to cash a cheque for—well, whatever it happens to be, you know.
The trouble is that we nearly always coincide; only the other man always seems to coincide first. And, as he takes his hundred and fifty on a selective principle, I am beginning to know from bitter experience what he will ask for and how long he will take to get served. He begins with a note for fifty and goes on with fifty in fivers. Then he has twenty sovereigns, and so on, down to the pound in copper. He and the cashier chat airily the while of cabbages and kaisers. Then at last he goes away full, and the cashier turns to me.
The Saturday before last I ventured to ask whether, if the hundred-and-fifty pounder always insisted on arriving two seconds before me, it wouldn't be possible to cash my cheque, which is a simple little thing, in one of the intervals during which, after sending to the cellars for more gold, they relapse into easy conversation; or, alternatively, if it was really necessary to pay a customer exactly the complicated bunches of monies he demanded; and, if so, whether it couldn't be done any quicker.
The answer proving unsatisfactory I determined to arrive earlier last Saturday. I made no mistake. I hung about the door of the bank for a quarter of an hour till I saw my rival approach. I came in just ahead of him, and presented my cheque. The cashier received it with his usual little smile and turned it over. Then his usual little smile left him and he set sadly to work.
The hundred-and-fifty pound man chafed and stamped his feet behind me for ten minutes, while I gloated. It was my day—my Tag.
I think you may like to know just in what shape I demanded the payment of my modest fifty shillings:—
L s. d.
1 0 0 in one pound notes. 0 10 0 in ten shilling notes. 0 10 0 in gold. 0 5 0 in shilling postal orders. 0 2 0 in threepenny bits. 0 0 9-1/2 in halfpennies. 0 1 10-1/4 in farthings. 0 0 4 in silver, if possible (otherwise stamps). 0 0 0-1/4 in pins. ___ 2 10 0
* * * * *
Illustration: GERMAN KAISER. "LET US PREY."
* * * * *
"No, I don't mean that at all," said my wife hastily. "You quite misunderstand me. Of course everyone is to have as much, quite as much, food as he wants."
"Stop a bit. Does that mean as much as he likes?" I asked.
"Or as much as his system requires?" suggested the Reverend Henry.
"Or as much as he can contain?" demanded Sinclair. "It may seem to be a fine point, but I think we ought to have it cleared up."
The hostess resumed: "Everyone is to have as much as he likes, certainly. Of course he is. We are not going to be inhospitable. On the contrary, we are prepared to share our last crust. But there must be absolutely no waste."
There was a short pause. No one was inclined to demur to that proposition. The Reverend Henry alone had doubts.
"It is difficult at a time like this, you know," he began mildly, "to be quite certain that you are doing the right thing. If you stop all waste in your household are you sure that you may not be encouraging unemployment? If you don't waste biscuits it follows that fewer biscuits are made and therefore——"
The Reverend Henry was adjudged to be on the wrong tack and his protest was swept aside.
"Breakfast now," my wife began briskly, bringing into action her block of notepaper and fountain-pen. "All that I want to know—I wouldn't dream of stinting you—is—how much do you intend to eat?"
She looked round expectantly, the pen poised in her hand. There was rather an awkward pause. The question seemed at first blush a little indelicate. Sinclair tried to temporize.
"But wait a bit," he said. "Can't the servants manage to consume——"
"The servants breakfast long before you are up, Mr. Sinclair," my wife reminded him.
"It's perfectly simple," said I, suddenly taking the floor; "I think it an admirable idea, the essence of good citizenship. What we have got to do is to declare our appetites overnight so that every man eats the food he has booked and we make a clean sweep. Book me for two eggs and a kipper."
"Sorry there are no kippers to-morrow," said my wife. "Boiled eggs, bacon and kidneys and mushrooms."
"It would be wrong to suppose that I do not consider it a wise and indeed public-spirited idea in every way," said the Reverend Henry after some reflection, "but it is a little difficult, you know. It depends so much upon how one sleeps and what one feels like, and what sort of morning it is, and the letters that come, and the war news."
"And on the temperature of one's tub," added Sinclair. "For my part I eat a lot at breakfast. I don't feel that I have the face to advertise the whole catalogue in this sort of way. It's too cold-blooded. Besides, I fluctuate like anything."
"Come on," said I. "You fellows are simply trying to shirk the thing. I declare two eggs, no bacon and three mushrooms, assuming an average size for mushrooms. One cup and a half of coffee. Three lumps in all."
"Well, that's a fairly good lead," said Sinclair. "I propose to double you on mushrooms and I should like to be put down for a kidney. What about you, Henry?"
"Nothing but one rasher of bacon, please," said Henry meekly. "I am never hungry in the morning and I have always wanted to know how much bacon there is in a rasher. A single cup of tea, no sugar, but plenty of cream."
My wife had been writing busily. Now she looked up. "What about toast?" she enquired.
"You are going into details," said Sinclair approvingly. "Doesn't it rather depend on the size of the slice? You may enter me for a couple of slices, three by two. And jam—no, marmalade. An ounce of marmalade."
"Do be quiet while I add it up," said my wife, for Sinclair was causing a lot of confusion by trying to barter a brace of mushrooms against my second egg (or at least to hold an option on the egg) in case he changed his mind before the morning. "And now I'll just send this to the kitchen, and then I'll go to bed."
It never really panned out well. On the first morning a very awkward thing happened. My wife, in her zeal to provide for her guests, had omitted to count herself in. We had to make a subscription for her, and it must be said that a splendid response was forthcoming, Sinclair nobly renouncing his kidney. But the result was that lunch had to be put half-an-hour earlier, and the day was disorganised.
On the second morning, the Rev. Henry was down early and bagged all my toast, while Sinclair, who had slept badly, refused to meet his obligations in the matter of kedjeree.
By the third day there was a good deal of unseemly barter and exchange going on, and Sinclair made a corner in eggs. "The trouble is," he explained, "that you never really know how good a thing is till you see it. Overnight a sardine on toast means nothing to me; and it was never announced that these eggs were going to be poached."
On the fourth day the scheme was tottering. Sinclair had actually been for a walk before breakfast and was consequently making an unsuccessful tour of the table in quest of extra toast. He then looked for the second time under the little blue blanket that keeps the eggs warm and peered disconsolately into the coffee pot. And then he struck.
"I'm afraid we shall have to chuck it," he announced. "We mean well, but it doesn't work."
My wife was a good deal taken aback, but Sinclair went on to prove his case.
"We are trying to avoid waste," he said. "Well, we may have eliminated a certain amount of—let us say material waste, but we are causing, on the other hand, the most deplorable moral waste. Henry and I were simply not on speaking terms yesterday after he scooped my marmalade under my very nose, and as for Charles" (that is myself) "he is simply out for loot. He gets down before the gong. And this is essentially a time to heal all differences and stand shoulder to shoulder."
"But I can't have waste," said my wife, who likes to stick to her point. "If things are left over there is no one to eat them."
"It will give me great pleasure," the Reverend Henry broke in eagerly, "to present you with a couple of live pigs—the animal kind, I mean."
* * * * *
Illustration: CLOTHES OF THE PERIOD.
"I WANT SOME SMART COLLARS."
"YESSIR. MR. SIMPKINS, JUST BRING ME DOWN AN ASSORTMENT OF 'DIRIGIBLES' AND SOME 'SUPER-DREADNOUGHTS."
* * * * *
THE CENSOR HABIT.
Not the least disastrous circumstance for which this war must be held responsible is a certain misunderstanding arrived at between Phyllis and myself. Fortunately the sky is clearer now, but there was a time when the situation looked extremely ugly.
This is a copy of the letter I received from Phyllis a few days ago:—
"DEAR JACK,—So sorry for you that you couldn't pass the doctor. Have just heard from Leo for the first time. He left —— on the ——, and after a satisfactory passage arrived at ——. They entrained soon after and are now in the neighbourhood of ——. What do you think? The ——s have occupied ——. Captain —— sends his regards to you.
"Yours, with love, "PHYLLIS."
I only know one man in the regiment that Phyllis's brother adorns, and his name is Captain Nares. Even supposing that the name had been censored in Leo's letter, there could be no doubt as to the identity of the person to whom the writer referred.
So far as I could see there was one of two possibilities. Either Phyllis was involuntarily developing the Censor habit, or she was treating the exigencies of correspondence in war-time with a levity that in a future wife I firmly deprecated. Humour of this kind is all very well in its place; but these are not days in which we must smile without a serious reason. I determined to teach her a lesson.
"DEAR PHYLLIS," I wrote,—"Many thanks for Captain ——'s regards. I don't remember the name, but possibly we are acquainted. By the way, you remember that bracelet you so much admired in the window in —— Street? I really could not let you go on breaking the Covet Commandment for ever, so I bought it yesterday. I don't like sending it through the post at this critical time, so if you will meet me at the corner of —— Circus and —— Street at —— o'clock, on —— night, I will bring it along.
"Yours ever, "JACK."
Knowing her as I do, I thought that this, if anything, would bring Phyllis to her senses. On the other hand, she appeared to look on it as a kind of challenge, and sent me the following reply:—
"DEAR JACK,—Thanks very much for your nice thought. But you must have mistaken the shop. I'll tell you why. Only this morning I was gazing at the very bracelet, when who should come up but ——. He's an awfully nice fellow, and very determined. When I told him what I was looking at, he actually suggested buying me the bracelet. Of course I said that no lady would dream of accepting a present like that, but he wouldn't hear of a refusal and simply pushed the darling thing into my hand. I am meeting him at the ——'s at luncheon on Friday. So sorry you won't be there.
"Yours ever, "PHYLLIS."
In reply to which I wrote:—
"DEAR PHYLLIS,—You'd better marry ——.
Phyllis wrote back:—
"Sorry, shan't be able to now. —— has just been called up, and sails from —— for —— on ——. So perhaps you and I had better be engaged again. I'm longing for a bracelet.
There was only one way of answering this superb piece of impudence. I enclosed a blank sheet of paper to Phyllis, signifying my complete indifference.
Her still more negative answer was an envelope addressed to me with no enclosure at all.
To this I replied by not replying.
And here, by all the laws of sequence, our correspondence should have been brought to a standstill. I calculated, however, that when the postman delivered my phantom communication next morning Phyllis would not remain twiddling her thumbs for long.
Sure enough, about 9 A.M. I received this wire:
"Regret your letter of apology intercepted by Censor. Will take same for granted in consideration of war-time. All is forgiven. Call here this evening with bracelet.—PHYLLIS."
* * * * *
New Wisdom for Old.
Grattez le Prusse, et vous trouvez le barbare.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE SUSPECT.
* * * * *
In Paris Town, in Paris Town—'twas neath an April sky— I saw a regiment of the line go marching to Versailles; When white along the Bois there shone the chestnut's waxen cells, And the sun was winking on the long Lebels, Flic flac, flic flac, on all the long Lebels!
The flowers were out along the Bois, the leaves were overhead, And I saw a regiment of the line that swung in blue and red; The youth of things, the joy of things, they made my heart to beat, And the quick-step lilting and the tramp of feet! Flic flac, flic flac, the tramping of the feet!
The spiked nuts have fallen and the leaf is dull and dry Since last I saw a regiment go marching to Versailles; And what's become of all of those that heard the music play? They trained them for the Frontier upon an August day; Flic flac, flic flac, all on an August day!
And some of them they stumbled on the slippery summer grass, And there they've left them lying with their faces to Alsace; The others—so they'd tell you—ere the chestnut's decked for Spring, Shall march beneath some linden trees to call upon a King; Flic flac, flic flac, to call upon a King.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
It is very fresh and delightful of Mr. H. H. DAVIES to regard seriously the love of a man for a maid. North of the river and west of Temple Bar it is the intrigues of the highly compromised middle-aged which are supposed to be most worthy of attention on the stage. But Mr. DAVIES (luckily) is never afraid of being young. So he starts us off with a picture of Geoffrey in the clutches of drink and drugs just because Valentine has jilted him. True that when Valentine is finally married to another man Geoffrey is still in love with her, and receives her at midnight in his rooms; but by this time Mr. DAVIES has given us three excellent Acts in his own best manner.
And these Acts are hardly concerned with the love of Geoffrey for Valentine at all, but with the relations between Geoffrey and Miriam, a woman of the town. She is, like Geoffrey, an outcast; but she has all the good qualities which he lacks, and she is brave and loving enough to drag him from the pit into which he was sinking. He rewards her by chasing after Valentine again (now tired of her husband)—and also by getting Mr. DAVIES, as I thought, a little way out of his element.
The solution of this less common triangle—man, mistress, other man's wife—I must leave to the author to reveal to you. Meanwhile I thank him for an absorbing play, in which the two chief characters were extremely well worked out. Perfectly played by Mr. GERALD DU MAURIER and Miss ETHEL LEVEY, they were two very human people.
By the way, in one respect Outcast must easily break all records. Never have so many stage cigarettes been lit (and thrown away) in the course of an evening. I wish that somebody who reads this and is tempted to pay a visit to Wyndham's would let me know the full number. I began counting too late.
* * * * *
Illustration: GOD (AND THE WOMEN) OUR SHIELD!
STUDY OF A GERMAN GENTLEMAN GOING INTO ACTION.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, August 31.—The peace in the Parliamentary arena which passed the understanding of the KAISER and went far to foil his plans, is temporarily broken.
Moving adjournment PREMIER reminded House of actual situation concerning Home Rule Bill and Welsh Disestablishment Bill. But for the outbreak of war Parliament would have been prorogued at least a fortnight ago and, by automatic procedure under Parliament Act, these measures would have been added to Statute Book. On outbreak of war political parties, amid plaudits of the Country, patriotically put aside partisan tactics and presented a united front to the common foe.
As PREMIER reminded House this afternoon, three weeks ago he declared desire that no party in any quarter of the House should gain advantage or should suffer prejudice from the temporary suspension of domestic controversy. When this was resumed, matters should be taken up and proceeded with exactly at the point and under the conditions at which they were left. The main feature of such conditions was the avowed intention of the Government to place the two Bills on Statute Book, hope being cherished of arrival at friendly settlement by means of Amending Bill.
This simple uncontrovertible statement of familiar facts quietly listened to. No note of contradiction broke the silence. BONAR LAW frankly accepted the situation as set forth by the PREMIER. Expressed hope that in the interval between adjournment and resumption of sittings some means would be found of avoiding renewal of controversy which he described as "a disgrace to the House," adding, amid general cheers, "The country will not readily forgive those who are responsible."
JOHN REDMOND assumed that if the proposal to reach a friendly settlement failed the intention of the Government to place the two Bills upon the Statute Book remained in force. This obvious assumption, based upon reiterated statements from the Treasury Bench, drew assenting cheer from Ministerialists.
It was here PRINCE ARTHUR interfered. Amid angry interruption he asked Members opposite to "consider whether it is possible decently to introduce subjects of acute political discussion in the present circumstances." Lively talk followed, showing that the bitterness of Home Rule controversy is not dead or even sleeping.
What might have developed into discreditable scene of the kind deprecated by PRINCE ARTHUR was averted by interposition Of the PREMIER. In gravest tone, "with all the solemnity I can command," he besought the House to bring the discussion to a close.
Appeal irresistible. House turned to disposal of remaining business, remaining at work till half-an-hour after midnight.
Business done.—Adjourned till Wednesday in next week.
* * * * *
Illustration: OUR VILLAGE INFORMATION BUREAU.
Postmaster (to lady who has handed in a telegram in French to a friend in Switzerland). "WE AIN'T ALLOWED TO ACCEPT FOREIGN TELEGRAMS, MISS. THERE'S A WAR ON—ON THE CONTINENT."
* * * * *
Heavy Work at the Front.
"I had been snatching an hour's rest after a tiring day in the shade of a great pear tree".—"Evening News" War Correspondent. (Italics by Mr. Punch.)
* * * * *
"How much the bravery of the Belgians is appreciated has found practical expression in —— [London]. A Belgian hairdresser, who has been many years in business here, has found a very considerable increase in his turnover during the past week or two."
West London Gazette.
One customer showed his appreciation by having his hair cut three times last week. But a subscription to the Belgian Relief Fund is perhaps the better way of doing it.
* * * * *
"Lord Hatherton has placed Teddesley Park at the disposal of the Penkridge Rifle Club, and offered himself as instructor in the use of the rifle."—Standard.
The heading "Peer's House as Hospital" is perhaps a trifle offensive.
* * * * *
OUR OVERBURDENED HEROES.
THE "K. OF K." SMOKER'S COMPANION
Comprising two pipes, cigar holder, cigarette holder, pipecleaner, patent lighter, smoker's knife, pouch with silver plate for monogram, match box, and burning glass. All compactly contained in crocodile leather case.
Price Three Guineas.
Should be in every officer's kit.
* * * * *
HAMMERSTEIN AND PUMMELOFF.
Genuine Offer to all Soldiers on Foreign Service.
SUPERB BOUDOIR GRAND PIANOS
At 25 per cent. reduction.
Will just fit into a Bell tent.
With removable legs.
Can be also used as a bed or a billiard table.
* * * * *
REVOLVER, FLASK & TIN-OPENER.
Occupies no room. Invaluable in Camp and Action.
Should be in every knapsack.
* * * * *
The invaluable Remedy on Long Marches.
One Shilling per packet.
Should be in every Soldier's knapsack.
* * * * *
TO ALL WHO ARE GOING TO THE FRONT.
Don't start without one of DIPPER'S PANDEMONIUM GRAMOSCOPES.
Enlivens the Bivouac. Promotes Optimism.
Price, during continuance of hostilities, 50 gns.; with special truck, 250 gns.
* * * * *
THE A1 PORTABLE KITCHENER.
With this compact and serviceable range a delicious hot meal can be cooked in a few minutes in whatever way is wished—by roasting, boiling, baking or grilling.
Total weight, 8 lbs.
Price Four Guineas.
Should be in every Soldier's knapsack.
* * * * *
THE "ROBERTS" TOILET SET.
Comprising 1 bottle refreshing dentifrice, 1 cake scented soap, 1 bottle Eau de Cologne (warranted made in England), 1 tube face cream. Neatly packed in art case.
A Charming Present for our Brave Lads or the French.
* * * * *
THE "IAN HAMILTON" SHOULDER BALM.
For bruises caused by recoiling rifles.
5s. Tins at half price to every bona-fide soldier.
No knapsack should be without it.
* * * * *
MESSRS. PUDELHEIMER AND JOSKINS, the Famous Art Dealers, Offer their Entire Stock of Horrifying Post-Impressionist and Futurist Pictures and Sculpture To Officers serving Abroad or on Home Defence.
No reasonable offer refused.
No enemy can stand against them.
THE GOREY GALLERY, BOND STREET.
* * * * *
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT ENDOWMENT SCHEME.
Jane's uncle—Jane is my daughter—came to me one day and said, "What do you think of my giving Jane a camera for her birthday? Wouldn't she be pleased? The advertisement says, 'Any babe can do it,' and she'll be ten."
"I have no doubt she'd be delighted," I said, "but there's a but. If you give it you must endow it."
"What do you mean?" said Jane's uncle.
"The camera's the least part of it," I replied. "For half-a-guinea you can cast a camera upon the world, but have you given a moment's consideration to that camera's means of support? No, I thought not. One more proof of the happy-go-lucky spirit of the present day. Yet you know that a camera has to be fed on plates, that it consumes quantities of poisonous acids, and expresses itself on reams of paper. It is altogether a desperate and spendthrift character. On whom do you suppose the cost of all this will fall?"
"On the employer, I should think," said Jane's uncle. "Doesn't Jane get pocket-money?"
"Threepence a week," I said. "Barely her share of the camera's insurance stamp. Jane being under age, any debts she may incur will devolve on me, and I am really not in a position to take on this responsibility. No, I repeat, if you give it you must endow it."
Jane's uncle meditated. Then he said, "Very well, I'll endow it to the extent of L1 a year, to be paid in quarterly instalments of 5s. each."
Jane was delighted with the scheme. She had never had five shillings to spend before, and was enthralled to find that it would buy not only paper and poisons and plates, but also a mackintosh coat for her camera. Then she took snapshots indoors and outdoors, at all times and in all weathers, with catholic indifference to subject and suitability.
"The book says one has to learn by experience," she said, showing me a pile of under-exposures. "This one of you is very good—the only pity is that I didn't get your head into the photo." This was one of many small details.
Jane looked forward feverishly to the payment of the second instalment.
"You'll have to put it by," I said. "You have plenty of paper and things left, haven't you?"
"Yes, but I want a dormouse."
"Oh, but that wouldn't be legal," I said. "That would be a misappropriation of trust funds."
"What's that?" said Jane.
"Well," I said, "don't you see that the money's given to endow your camera, and must be spent on that camera and nothing else?"
"But there's nothing more to get for it," urged Jane.
"Then the money must accumulate interest until there is," I said.
Women have no heads for the law. I could not make Jane see that to buy a dormouse with the funds of the camera would be an irregular and punishable proceeding. Finally, in despair, I had to promise to ask her uncle if he would recognise the application of one quarter's payment to the purchase of a dormouse. He acceded to the somewhat unusual request with his customary good-nature.
"But remember," I told Jane, "the next instalment must be spent on the camera."
Slowly but surely, however, the camera fell into disuse. I was asked more rarely, and more rarely still, to look through prints. At last I was asked no more.
Then the third instalment arrived.
"You want some more paper and things by now, I suppose?" I said encouragingly.
"The light hasn't been good lately," said Jane evasively. "I've not been taking many photos."
"Then what are you going to do with the money?"
"Ask Uncle if I may buy a stamp-album."
* * * * *
Shortly after this, Jane's uncle's birthday came round. I passed a shop in the City which had recently had a fire. Five hundred silver cigarette-cases had been pluckily rescued from the flames and, to celebrate their escape, were being offered for sale at a remarkably low figure. One of these survivors was dispatched to Jane's uncle.
He dined with us the next evening, and was more grateful than I could reasonably expect. He handled the cigarette-case quite fondly.
"But what about its endowment?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" I said.
"Well, isn't a cigarette-case as eligible as a camera?" he said. "Its needs are, I consider, even greater. Presumably this gift is meant to facilitate my smoking, but an empty cigarette-case offers me nothing to smoke—it implies the heavy responsibility on an already overburdened man of keeping it filled. Now, suppose you complete the gift, as I did Jane's, by at least a year's endowment?"
I began to wish that the cigarette-cases had perished, but after his kindness to Jane I could hardly refuse.
"Well, what would it cost?" I said.
"That's easily reckoned," said Jane's uncle. "Say I smoke on an average fifteen cigarettes a day—that's 105 a week—that's—— Have you a piece of paper?"
It worked out at just under 5,500 cigarettes a year. At 8s. a hundred, twenty guineas would just cover the year's endowment. It seemed out of all proportion to the cost of the case.
"It's a good deal more than Jane's camera got," I protested.
"I told you its claims were greater. Of course you can't expect to get off as cheaply with a fixed habit of maturity as with the passing caprice of a kid. On the other hand you might have done worse. Suppose you had given me golf-clubs—there'd have been golf-balls, caddies, club subscription, lunches, fares and postage on correspondence with The Times. Compared with that, what is a paltry five guineas a quarter?"
On reflection I found that very few presents would have escaped the endowment scheme altogether, and that the cigarette-case was really a comparatively modest pensioner, and I felt a little comforted.
For four quarters I remitted five guineas to Jane's uncle.
My present seemed to change his nature. Whereas he had been a man rather to ignore the claims of clothes than to consider them, I now noticed that he looked more prosperous and was better dressed than I had ever seen him before. Once, when he appeared in a new lounge suit—the second new one within my knowledge in six months—I could not refrain from remarking on it.
"One has to dress up to a silver cigarette-case, old fellow," he said, and the subject was dismissed.
The year was on the point of expiring. One day I was talking with Jane's uncle and another man at the Club. The other man offered me a cigarette, and to my amazement passed Jane's uncle over with these words:—
"No good offering you one, I know, poor old chap. When is your doctor going to give you a reprieve?"
"I don't know," he said sadly, taking a pinch of snuff.
"What does this mean?" I said when we were alone. "What about the endowment at the rate of fifteen cigarettes a day?"
"A parallel case to Jane's," he answered. "There seems something fatal about these endowments. Three days after you had agreed to endow the cigarette-case my doctor forbade me, on pain of some awful 'itis,' to exceed three cigarettes a day. With the first instalment you had provided me with cigarettes for the year. So what should I do in these circumstances but follow the precedent set by your family? Only, instead of a dormouse and a stamp-album, I chose to purchase smartness. I spent the three remaining instalments on my wardrobe."
* * * * *
It was my birthday yesterday. Jane's uncle sent me a handsome silver-mounted walking-stick. "It is the only thing I can think of that requires no endowment," he wrote. "Pavements are supplied by the County Council, and you have an umbrella-stand."
I should like to use it across his back.
* * * * *
Illustration: First Lady. "I SEE THE MASTER CUTTING A DASH THIS MORNING. NOBODY WOULDN'T THINK HE WAS HARD UP."
Second Lady. "LOR' BLESS YER, NO! SINCE THIS 'ERE MERRYTORIUM COME IN HE WALKS DOWN THE HIGH STREET IN FRONT OF ALL THE SHOPS AS THOUGH HE DIDN'T OWE 'EM A PENNY."
* * * * *
Illustration: THROUGH GERMAN SPECTACLES.
Germany. "PERMIT ME TO RECOMMEND THESE GLASSES, MADE IN GERMANY, AND GUARANTEED TO GIVE AN UNUSUALLY WIDE AND LUMINOUS VIEW—SAME, IN FACT, AS MINE."
Italy. "VERY KIND AND THOUGHTFUL, I'M SURE; BUT I CAN SEE QUITE NICELY, THANK YOU. I CAN SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU, FOR INSTANCE, WITH THE NAKED EYE. GOOD MORNING."
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S HOLIDAY STORIES.
IV.—IN THE HIGHLAND FORESTS.
(In the approved manner of the Sporting Feuilleton.)
Alone in a first-class compartment of the Scotch Express Ralph Wonderson, athlete and sportsman, journeyed northwards for the grouse hunting. He was surrounded by gun-cases and cartridge-belts, and, as the train flashed through the summer landscape, he reflected pleasantly that "Grey Bob," his magnificent hunter, was snugly ensconced in the horse-box adjoining.
It was dusk when they arrived at the little Highland station. As he stepped out of the carriage with jingling spurs he was greeted by Grey Bob, who stood impatiently pawing the platform. Flicking a speck of dust from his favourite's glossy neck, Ralph leaped lightly into the saddle and cantered out of the station towards Clancrachan Castle.
As he rode through the gathering darkness he caracoled with an enviable lightness of heart. Was not his host for the next three weeks his bosom-friend, young Lord Tamerton? And was not the beautiful golden-haired Lady Margaret Tamerton with her brother? Little marvel that Ralph tossed his rifle high in the air and caught it again and again from sheer exuberance of spirits.
When he reached the ancient castle he found dinner over and the guests, among whom were some of the keenest sportsmen in Britain, assembled in the gun-room.
"In the nick of time, Ralph!" exclaimed Lord Tamerton, clasping his hand warmly. "We are trying to create a mediaeval atmosphere in keeping with our surroundings, and as host I was about to announce in the approved manner of Chivalry that the Champion of to-morrow's hunt shall be rewarded with the hand of my only sister, Lady Margaret. It is for you to do your devoir like a preux chevalier."
There was a chorus of laughter and applause. Only Ralph remained serious. His fingers tightening on those of Lady Margaret, he plunged his eyes earnestly into hers. Doubtless he read there what he had hoped to see.
* * *
It was a merry party which set out next morning, and, as each cavalier passed Lady Margaret, who stood on the terrace, he playfully pledged himself to do his knightliest.
Soon they parted, each taking his own route. Ralph, urging Grey Bob to his best paces, plunged straight into the heart of the forest, his loader running sturdily at his stirrup. A curious, taciturn fellow, this loader, with a tangled mass of flaming red hair and a bushy red beard which almost obscured his features and hung below his sporran.
Arrived at what appeared a suitable spot, Ralph tethered Grey Bob to a sapling and took up his position behind a massive oak. He was extracting the field-glasses from the case at his side when his pulses contracted as he felt a cold rim of metal pressed suddenly against the back of his neck. In a flash he realised that it was the muzzle of a rifle. There was a grim, tense silence for a full minute.
"Take these," said the cold, drawling voice of the loader, "and write as I dictate."
Ralph took the paper and fountain-pen which were thrust over his shoulder and prepared to write.
"Commence," continued the voice. "I—Ralph Wonderson—hereby confess—that I poisoned—the late Lord Tamerton.—I also hereby renounce—all pretensions—to the hand—of Lady Margaret Tamerton. Now sign it."
In obedience to a further command Ralph handed back the sheet. He could not forbear a grim smile as he did so. He had written the single word, "Rats!"
It was received with a loud exclamation of protest. Ralph ducked and turned in one catlike movement and hurled himself upon the loader. The rifle flew away, discharging itself uselessly into the branches of the oak. Clasping his adversary by the throat Ralph pushed him backwards to the ground, and the pair rolled over locked in a deadly embrace. Then suddenly the loader relaxed his grip and lay limp and still.
Breathing heavily, Ralph raised himself to his knees and pulled away the false wig and beard of his prostrate foe. Not altogether to his surprise he beheld the features of Sir Ernest Scrivener, alias Marmaduke Moorsdyke.
A low gasp of relief made him glance up. Seated on her black palfrey was Lady Margaret, who had been watching the struggle with breathless and agonised anxiety.
"Madge!" cried Ralph, rising to his feet. "What are you——"
Her quick cry of warning came too late. Wheeling round, Ralph found that the treacherous baronet had seized a second rifle and had levelled it directly at Lady Margaret's heart.
"I rather think," said the slow, sneering voice, "that I am now in a position to enforce my commands. You will walk steadily backwards for two miles. If you refuse I shall shoot Lady Margaret. And I shall shoot to kill."
His nerves as steady as steel in this desperate crisis, Ralph swiftly analysed the situation. If he backed away as commanded, Sir Ernest would then mount Grey Bob and ride off with Lady Margaret, and Ralph realised that even her death was preferable to this. If he made a dash at the assailant, the latter, to save his own skin, would almost certainly fire. But Ralph knew that Sir Ernest, in spite of his threat, had no intention of shooting Lady Margaret if it could possibly be avoided.
He determined to remain perfectly still. The probabilities were that Scrivener, realising he had been outwitted, would sooner or later turn his rifle suddenly on Ralph, and Ralph, in all the pride of his magnificent physical powers, knew that in that brief moment he could hurl himself upon the other.
But Sir Ernest knew it also.
Ralph stood motionless. Lady Margaret, playing her part bravely, sat motionless on her palfrey. Sir Ernest lay motionless, his rifle pointed inflexibly at her heart. No word was spoken.
A grouse in the oak-tree croaked jeeringly.
* * *
An hour passed. Two hours. Three. Four. There was not the tremor of a muscle among the three.
Five hours passed. Six. Seven. Then Ralph felt that the strain could be borne no longer. He resolved to count a hundred and at the end of that time to rush desperately forward, hoping against hope that the murderous bullet would not find its billet.
Ninety-seven ... ninety-eight ... ninety-nine ... Ralph caught his breath sharply. The finger on the rifle trigger had relaxed.
Sir Ernest had fainted.
In thirty seconds Ralph had bound him hand and foot. With a long, quivering sigh of relief Lady Margaret slid from her horse and threw herself into her rescuer's arms. Ralph crushed her to his breast in a passion of gratitude.
But Lady Margaret quickly disengaged herself. "What about the grouse?" she exclaimed.
"Great heavens!" exclaimed Ralph, snatching out his watch. "It's four o'clock! I have only one hour, and the others will have had eight."
He seized his field-glasses, sprang into the oak and swept the surrounding country. There was not a grouse in sight. He gave vent to an exclamation of despair.
"Follow me!" said Lady Margaret. "I know their sanctuary. You can do it yet."
Snatching up the rifles, Ralph followed the girl as she threaded her way through the trees. At last she halted abruptly. "Look!" she whispered. "There they are."
And, indeed, Ralph saw that all the trees around him were congested with grouse. He levelled his rifle and fired.
Bang! A grouse fell at his feet. He snatched the second rifle from Lady Margaret, who had assumed the role of loader. Bang! Another fell. There was no escape from that deadly eye.
Lady Margaret had been brought up to sport from her earliest youth. As a child she had watched many of the finest shots in Europe. But she had never seen anything like this. Such unerring precision enthralled her.
And she played her own part nobly. Almost before Ralph had surrendered the empty rifle the loaded one was in his grasp. And when the barrels grew red-hot, her quick wit saved the situation and she thrust them into the stream which trickled at their feet.
Bang!... Bang!... Bang!
* * *
Again the guests were assembled in the gun-room.
"Oyez! Oyez!" cried Lord Tamerton merrily. "I proclaim the champion to be Ralph Wonderson, with a total bag of two thousand brace."
Amid a clamour of laughter and congratulation Lady Margaret came shyly forward and laid her left hand on Ralph's shoulder.
On its third finger glittered a magnificent hoop of diamonds.
* * * * *
Illustration: LATEST WAR NEWS.
"WE'LL SOON 'EV THE KAISER PINCHED NAH. THE COPPER'S GORN FROM OUR COURT!"
[The Press Bureau does not guarantee the accuracy of this statement.]
* * * * *
THE FIRST BLUNDER.
How I succeeded in getting this interview I should very much like to know. But I did. Let that suffice.
When I entered He was standing before His mirror fumbling with His moustache, which seemed unwilling any more to point upwards, but had a persistent droop. "Donner und blitzen!" He exclaimed irascibly as he added more and more stiffening paste.
Observing me He paused and sat down, motioning me to do the same. Then, after taking a tablespoonful of the blood-and-iron tonic in a bottle beside Him, He bade me be quick with my questions as He was busy.
I explained my visit at once. "It says in the paper," I said, "that your Majesty's troops are being withdrawn from the North of Belgium."
"And that," I continued, "the province of Antwerp is free of them."
He nodded again.
"But," I said, "surely that is a mistake—an error both of tactics and judgment of the greatest seriousness?"
"How?" He asked.
"This chastisement of the world," I said, "which you are to inflict——"
He smiled agreement.
"This spread of Geist—" I continued.
"How can it be thorough if you shirk your duty?" I added.
He bade me explain myself more fully.
"Take Louvain," I said, "as a start. That was splendid."
"Wasn't it?" He replied. "Hoch!"
"That's the way," I continued. "Destroy the gems of architecture. Burn the priceless and unique manuscripts. Wreck the seats of learning. That will teach the world what you really mean, what you really stand for."
His eyes glistened. "We do our best," He said. "Hoch!"
"But why be half-hearted?" I went on. "That's the folly. It seems to me that some one among your generals must be blundering very badly if Antwerp is to be so scandalously neglected. The lesson that it might teach if properly handled! The enormous value of its example to those parts of the civilised world that are still on the fence!—Holland, for instance, Italy, Bulgaria."
"But the blunder? For God's sake—I should say for My sake—tell Me quickly," He said with his hand on the telephone.
I drew from my pocket a packet of picture postcards and showed him one.
"How beautiful!" He said. "Where is it?"
"Antwerp Cathedral," I replied.
"What a lovely spire!" He remarked wistfully. "So tall and slender. It looks as if it would fall so easily."
I showed Him another.
"That is charming," He said. "Where is that?"
"Antwerp again," I said. "The Plantin museum. The most interesting printing establishment in the world. So quiet, so serene—in short, perfect and irreplaceable."
The last word seemed to strike Him.
He repeated it once or twice.
"And these are at Antwerp?" He asked again.
"Yes," I said. "And these"—showing Him more photographs—"are at Bruges. And," I added meaningly, "still standing."
"Yes, you are right," He exclaimed. "It is outrageous. What fool ordered the withdrawal from Belgium, I wonder—with all this work for culture still to do!"
He was furious.
"Not a stone should have been left," He said. "The true Geist must prevail. Every opportunity of proving our enlightenment should have been taken. There will be trouble over this, I can promise you. Leave me now. I must think."
He turned again to the blood-and-iron tonic, and was once more at the mirror when I left. His moustaches had come undone again. Both ends now pointed resolutely to the carpet.
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Illustration: Turkey. "LOOKS VERY TEMPTING AND FRUITY; BUT WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS, WHO'S GOING TO PAY THE DOCTOR'S BILL IF COMPLICATIONS ENSUE?"
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THE COUNTING OF CHICKENS.
For business reasons I had to take my holiday alone this year, after my wife and children had come back from Cornwall.
While I was away Peggy wrote to me and said that Evangeline, her favourite Minorca, had laid eleven eggs. Whereupon she, Evangeline, had become broody and refused to be comforted; so Peggy said she had added two eggs that Clara, one of the Cochins, had laid and was saving up, and put them under Evangeline, who had sat on the lot for the regulation period, the result being ten of the dearest little fluffy chickens you ever saw. My first reflection was that there they were, ten of them, eating the bread of idleness, and in war-time, I too, with so many other more useful mouths to fill.
But Peggy's last paragraph was consoling. She informed her father that she intended to collar some of the alien trade, and had made a good start with her ten chickens, in addition to the three Minorcas, five Cochins, and two Pedigree-unknowns, which were all laying eggs like anything. Another of the Cochins, Maud Eliza, was beginning to get broody, and was being trained for her sitting Marathon on a box of my best golf-balls, and altogether things looked rosy—from Peggy's point of view.
I replied by return of post that she was really trying to ruin a neutral Denmark, and that to compete with the hated foe she must induce Evangeline, Clara & Co. to turn their attention to laying sausages, the brass collars of electric-light bulbs, toys and small hardware; but, so as not to discourage her, I added that the chickens would make splendid table-decorations later on, and would keep down Williamson's absurd bills for meat.
I came home yesterday; and after tea Peggy presented me with a sheet of paper covered with figures—a set of multiplication sums in fact. There was a column for each of the hens and their possible offsprings, and the grand total, expressed in terms of chickens, was stupendous.
"What," she said, "is a chicken worth when it's ready to cook?"
"It depends," I said, "whether you are buying or selling it."
"Selling," she said.
"Oh; say 2s. 6d."
"Then to be on the safe side," she said, "we'll call it 2s. That makes twice 1,121 shillings. How much is that?"
I found a stump of pencil, and an empty corner of The History of the War, and worked it out. "L112 2s. 0d.," I said at last.
"Not so bad, Daddy, in twelve months."
"Marvellous!" I said; "colossal! But you haven't allowed for the chickens we shall eat."
"No," she said, "but we shall save 2s. on each one we eat, so it's the same thing in the end."
I admitted the plausibility of this calculation.
"But," I said, "you're not allowing for deaths and bad eggs."
"Oh yes, I am," she said; "I've only allowed half the eggs to become chickens."
"You'd never make a company promoter," I said.
"I'm going to be a hospital nurse, thank you, Daddy," she said with her nose in the air. "Do come and see Evangeline's family."
So we strolled into the garden and down to the poultry run, taking the multiplication sums with us.
Evangeline, the optimist, was busy scratching up the more or less kindly fruits of the earth for her family and didn't make the slightest sign of recognition, though I coughed twice.
"She's much too busy," said Peggy, "to notice that you've come home. Aren't they darlings?"
"They're certainly a healthy-looking lot. Two of them I recognise as Clara's contribution. Doesn't she mind?"
"I don't think so," said Peggy; "she's busy too. She's been sitting now for nearly a fortnight, and Maud Eliza's on eggs as well."
"I hope none of my golf balls are addled," I said. "I want to have a round to-morrow afternoon."
"Of course not. I've washed them all and put them back again."
"Good egg!" I said.
Suddenly I had an unhappy thought. "Where," I asked, "are the figures relating to this lot of Evangeline's?"
"Here," she said, "under 'E'. Five chickens. I've allowed five to die, though I'm sure they wouldn't if they knew what they're wanted for."
"I'm afraid you'll have to work it all out again."
"Look here," I said, "five chickens, and each going to lay at least enough eggs to sit on, and half of the sitting to mature, as it were; that sounds fair enough, but not more than three of this lot will lay eggs at all."
"Oh! why ever not?" she said.
"Nature's limitations," I explained. "Seven of them are cockerels."
* * * * *
Illustration: TRAINING IN THE PARK.
OLD GENTLEMAN ENGAGED IN QUIET SIESTA IN KENSINGTON GARDENS SUDDENLY WAKES TO FIND HIMSELF IN THE ABOVE ALARMING SITUATION AND HASTILY CONCLUDES THAT THE GERMANS HAVE ARRIVED.
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Our Latest Cinema Film.
"The Boa Constrictor, 3,500 feet." Advt. in "Cape Times."
There must have been some centipedes in the family.
* * * * *
"'I received orders from my employer,' he said, 'to go to ——,' but found that the train service was stopped. I had to do many miles on my bicycle."—Yorkshire Evening News.
We trust that he did not scorch very badly on his arrival at this unmentionable destination.
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Some people have all the luck! Fancy preparing for publication this summer a novel whose scene is laid in Belgium. The picture of Bruges Tower on the cover of The Belfry (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) should alone be enough to sell it like the hottest of hot cakes. Of course it would be rather too much to expect the story to treat of the Belgium we all love and admire to-day. Indeed, MARGARET BAILLIE SAUNDERS, writing in the old times of six weeks ago, permits herself some good-natured humour at the expense of the little red-trousered army. To-day it sounds oddly archaic. But, this apart, there is enough topical and local colour in the setting to secure success, even without an interesting story such as is told here. One may perhaps fairly easily detect its inspiration in certain actual happenings. It is the story of a woman, Lucy Briarwell, clever and gifted with personality, the grass-widow of an apparently incurable lunatic who, living in Bruges, falls under the influence of a Belgian poet-dramatist. Together—for Lucy is shown as his collaborator and source of inspiration—they evolve a wonderful new form of miracle play in which she presently captivates London and Paris as the reincarnate Notre Dame de Bruges. So much of the tale I indicate; the rest is your affair. It is told in a pleasant haphazard fashion, enriched with flashes of caustic wit and disfigured with a good deal of ungrammatical and slovenly writing. I think I never met a novelist who did more execution among the infinitives. Also I suspect that Mrs. SAUNDERS' zeal for theatrical setting outran her knowledge of it, otherwise she would hardly have permitted a dramatist to speak of his "caste," or the leading lady to leave the theatre (even under circumstances of faintness) in her stage costume. But for all that my congratulations to her on a good story.
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Illustration: A PATRIOT.
The Visitor. "BUT YOU DON'T IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT THAT YOU COULD SINK A BATTLESHIP WITH THAT, DO YOU?"
Patriotic Seaside Villa Resident. "NO, I DON'T THINK IT WOULD CARRY FAR ENOUGH; BUT AT ANY RATE IT MIGHT DRAW THE ENEMY'S FIRE!"
* * * * *
My impression of Behind the Picture (WARD, LOCK) is that it would be better worth reading if it contained less of the tale—which, to speak quite candidly, is parlous nonsense—and more of the trimmings. The trimmings are mostly concerned with art bargain-hunting, and are excellent fun. Most of us have the treasure-trove instinct sufficiently developed to like reading about a young man who picks up Gainsboroughs for a tenner, or unearths lost masterpieces of TURNER on a clue supplied by an old letter. The young man in question was Hugh Limner, and in his off moments he fulfilled perfunctorily the duties of hero of the story. But I can't help thinking that Mr. M. MCD. BODKIN, his creator, liked him best as an expert. Certainly I myself did. Hugh, as I say, found his buried Turner on the authority of an autograph letter from the artist, which in its turn he had found in a volume entitled "Turner's Poems," that proved to have belonged to RUSKIN, the whole purchased off a stall for ten shillings. That was the kind of expert Hugh was. When he had dug up the picture he exhibited it in a private gallery, where "each day an eager crowd freely paid an entrance-fee of half-a-guinea." How, when he could achieve that kind of luck, could he be expected to take more than a languid interest in a tale where the most impossible people behave most impossibly; where, for example, a missing peer posts a letter to his wife at the back of a picture-frame for no earthly reason; where the villain, younger brother of the long-lost, comes into the heroine's drawing-room and says, "You must allow me to introduce myself. I am Frederick Ackland, Earl of Sternholt"? We were only beginning the second chapter, but my wonder is that a fellow like Hugh, who was within hearing, didn't throw up his part at once. He would have had my sympathy.
* * * * *
The public is quite content to have any amount of trite philosophy passed off upon it as new goods by the author who has a gift for dialect and uses an American negro as mouthpiece. Miss DOROTHY DIX employs a black laundress of the name of Mirandy (SAMPSON LOW) for philosopher; and cheerfully persisting with the "yessum's," the "wid's," the "dat's" and the "becaze's," tells us with incessant humour many things we all knew before about husbands, their little idiosyncracies and weaknesses and the methods by which they may be best caught and trained for their purpose in life. Now and then Mirandy gets away from matters matrimonial, and it is upon these too rare occasions that she is at her best. I was particularly moved by her views on the just rights of the invalid, summed up in the urgent demand that those on the sick-bed should (omitting the lingo) "be allowed to enjoy being ill in their own way, without being persecuted by their friends and their friends' doctors, pet remedies and religions." On the whole, I may quite safely recommend these two hundred and fifty pleasantly written and delightfully printed pages to readers who like to muse quietly on the elementary principles of love and life without risking the surprise of startling or revolutionary lines of thought. There is nothing peculiarly good or bad in the many comic illustrations by Mr. E. W. KEMBLE.
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Mr. Punch regrets that in his last week's notice of MARIE VAN VORST'S delightful romance, His Love Story, he spoiled her good Dutch name by calling her Marie Von Vorst. He offers his best apologies.
* * * * *
The Touch of Nature.
["Turkey is our natural Ally."—General von Bernhardi.]
"Hoch! Die Kultur! High Heaven speed the work!" Thus cries the aspiring Teuton to the Turk. Creation echoes with the glad refrain, Deep calls to deep, Armenia to Louvain.
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