OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
AUGUST 5th 1914.
Edited by Owen Seaman
* * * * *
Illustration: HINTS TO MILLIONAIRES.
WHEN YOU BATHE ENGAGE ALL THE BATHING-BOXES SO AS TO HAVE THE SEA TO YOURSELF UNCONTAMINATED.
* * * * *
SIR ROBERT LORIMER has been appointed architect for the restoration of Whitekirk church, East Lothian, which was burnt down by Suffragettes last February. There is a feeling among the militants that, since it is owing to the exertions of women that the work has to be done, it ought to have been given to a woman architect.
Two Suffragettes who were charged, last week, at Bow Street with obstructing the police, refused to give their ages. Presumably the information would have shown that they were old enough to know better.
A committee of the Metropolitan Water Board reports that Thames water is purified at least 1,000 times before delivery to consumers. It looks as if there may, after all, be something in the complaints which reach the Board from time to time as to its water being absolutely flavourless.
The London Fire Brigade Committee has decided to ignore a demand from the Corporation Workers' Union for the reinstatement of a fireman who refused to obey an order on the ground that it involved too great a danger to him. For ourselves we are surprised at the moderation of the Union. We should have expected them to insist also on a medal for life-saving being bestowed on the man.
Dr. IGNATIUS MOERBECK, an engineer living on the Amazon, asserts that the river which Mr. ROOSEVELT claims to have placed on the map had long since been surveyed by him. The prettiest touch in Dr. MOERBECK'S statement is to the effect that the real name of the river is Castanha, which means Chestnut.
Furs worth about L3,000 were stolen from a Chiswell Street firm last week. This gives one some idea of the intensity of the recent cold snap.
Mr. LYN HARDING, it is announced, has acquired a new play in four Acts entitled Bed Rock. Surely the lullaby touch in the title is a mistake? Audiences are quite prone enough to fall asleep without these soporific aids.
"I am not," says M. PAUL BOURGET, "responsible for the words I put into the mouths of my characters." We await a similar declaration from Mr. B. SHAW.
Another impending apology! Extract from the official Report of the Annual General Meeting of a Company that publishes certain illustrated papers:—"Our stock of published original black-and-white drawings, made by many of the foremost artists of the day, stand at nothing in our books."
A legacy of L10,000 has been left to a clerk in the Ashton-under-Lyme Waterworks Office by a gentleman who had intimated that he "would remember him in his will." We are so glad that this pretty old custom is not dying out.
It is rumoured that a daring attempt to rob the Zoological Gardens has been foiled. Plans, it is said, have been disclosed whereby burglars after dark were to scale the loftiest peaks of the new Mappin terraces and to fish for animals by means of highly-spiced joints attached to ropes. It was hoped to secure a number of valuable bears, to be disposed of to furriers.
We have been favoured with the sight of a circular issued by a Dutch bulb grower and printed in English. The fatherly interest which he takes in his creations does credit to his heart. "All bulbs who are not satisfied," he says, "we take back and pay the carriage ourselves, even if cheque has accompanied order."
* * * * *
The brown bee sings among the heather A little song and small— A song of hills and summer weather And all things musical; An ancient song, an ancient story For days as gold as when The gods came down in noontide's glory And walked with sons of men.
A merry song, since skies are sunny— How in a Dorian dell Was borne the bland, the charmed honey To young Comatas' cell; Thrice-happy boy the Nine to pleasure That they for hours of ill Did send, in love, the golden measure, The honey of their hill.
Gone are the gods? Nay, he who chooses This morn may lie at ease And on a hill-side woo the Muses And hear their honey-bees; And haply mid the heath-bell's savour Some rose-winged chance decoy, To win the old Pierian favour That fed the shepherd-boy.
* * * * *
THE LOGIC OF ENTENTES.
[Lines composed on what looks like the eve of a general European war; and, designed to represent the views of an average British patriot.]
You have won whatever of fame it brings To have murdered a King and the heir of Kings; And it well may be that your sovereign pride Chafes at a touch of its tender hide; But why should I follow your fighting-line For a matter that's no concern of mine?
You may, if you like, elect to curb The dark designs of the dubious Serb, And to close your Emperor's days in strife— A tragic end to a tragic life; But why in the world should I stand to lose By your bellicose taste for Balkan coups?
No doubt the natural course for you Is to bid the Austrian bird "Go to!" He can't be suffered to spoil your dream Of a beautiful Pan-Slavonic scheme; But Britons can never be Slavs, you see, So what has your case to do with me?
But since Another, if you insist, Will be cutting in with his mailed fist, I shall be asked to a general scrap All over the European map, Dragged into somebody else's war, For that's what a double entente is for.
Well, if I must, I shall have to fight For the love of a bounding Balkanite; But O what a tactless choice of time, When the bathing season is at its prime! And how I should hate to miss my chance Of wallowing off the coast of France!
* * * * *
"Do you notice anything particularly queer about this house, Charles," I asked him, "now that Araminta has been forced to fly from it?"
(Araminta had gone home to visit her parents, not so much, as I explained to Charles, because she was tired of living with me as because I had invited him to come on a visit. She was to return on the following day after a fortnight's absence, and I had promised faithfully to evict him before she came).
"Except," said Charles, "that it is usual to offer one's guests the most comfortable arm-chair in the messuage and not to eat all the fattest strawberries oneself, I can't say that I do;" and he fluffed a second mashie pitch with his cigar ash well short of the drawing-room fender.
"You don't," I insisted, "remark any unusual hiatus in the household arrangements—anything that obviously betrays the absence of the feminine touch? I suppose you know what this is?" and I took from the mantelpiece a tall slender silver object.
"It seems to be a tin trumpet," replied Charles, "and why on earth you can't keep my godson's toys in the nursery, instead of littering them about——"
"Tin trumpet," I said cleverly, "be blowed! It is a vase—variously pronounced to rhyme with 'parse' or 'pause,' according to one's pretensions to gentility. It is a flower-vase, Chawles, and, what is more, there ought to be flowers in it. The whole house, let me tell you, should be a very garden of fragrant and luscious blooms. Instead of which it is full of mocking cenotaphs such as this. When Araminta went away she flung over her shoulder a parasol and a Parthian taunt. She said, 'I'm certain there'll be no flowers in the house while I'm away,' and now it seems she was jolly well right."
"Why ever can't the servants attend to the flowers?" said Charles lazily. "They seem to be fairly competent people. There were four match-boxes and The Return of Sherlock Holmes in my bedroom."
"There you touch one of the deeper mysteries," I explained to him. "Probably in the most expensive and luxurious mansions they have a flower-maid. A kind of Persephone who comes up from the underworld with her arms full of gerania and calceolarias. 'Housemaid,' she would put it in the advertisements, 'upper (where manservant kept); tall, of good appearance; free; several years' experience; understands vawses.' And in houses such as these the cinerarias would never wither or die. Every what-not would be a riotous profusion of et-ceteras from week's-end to week's-end. But with Jane it is different. Jane has her limitations. She comprehends match-boxes and detective fiction, but Araminta does the flowers."
"Well, what do you want me to do about it?" said Charles, bunkering his cigar-stump badly to the right of the coal-scuttle.
"I want you to help me," I told him, "because I shan't have time to attend to the matter myself. When I go out to-morrow I want you, before you leave, to fill all the vases all over the house. Pink roses will be the best, I think, and you can buy them at that little flowermonger's across the road."
"But there are pink roses in the garden," he objected.
"Only a kind of double dog-rose," I told him. "We never allow the dog-roses in the house: they haven't been properly trained. Besides you would certainly pick all the puppies and scratch yourself to death. There's no dog-rose without its tooth. You want the big ones that are grown exclusively on short stalks without any roots. And Araminta will never know that they haven't been there for several days at least."
"All right," said Charles, "I'll tackle the flower-smith for you."
When I came home on the following evening, before going upstairs, I peeped timidly into the dining-room and found to my delight that Charles had been as good as his word. All the vases had burst as though by a miracle into radiant blossom. Taking courage I went up to the drawing-room, found Araminta and saluted her, and then looked round with a smirk of conscious self-satisfaction. Charles had chosen pink carnations for the drawing-room, and the place was as starry as the final chapter of a feuilleton.
"What do you think of the flowers?" I said proudly.
"They're simply lovely," she replied. "But——"
"But what?" I asked with a sudden vague qualm. "Don't you like pink carnations?"
"I adore them," she said. "I was just going to ask how long they'd been there, that's all."
"These particular ones?" I said airily. "Oh, two or three days, I think, at most; not more than that."
"I see," she replied with a little smile. "That makes it more wonderful still."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, there isn't any water, you see, in the vases."
* * * * *
Illustration: COOL STUFF.
THE TABLOID. "YOU CAN MAKE IT AS HOT FOR ME AS YOU LIKE, I SHALL NOT DISSOLVE."
[The above is prospective. No sensible person desires a dissolution during the present crisis abroad.]
* * * * *
Illustration: THE ETHICS OF THE RING.
[Boxing champions receive almost as much pay for losing as for winning.]
Manager (to applicant for position of traveller). "AND WHAT SALARY WOULD YOU REQUIRE?"
Applicant. "L600 A YEAR IF I GIVE SATISFACTION; L400 IF I DON'T."
* * * * *
THE MAGIC NUMBER.
I have a telephone—a simple unpretentious toy, just like the next one. Sometimes I think it must be exceptional, but anon I hear other telephoners talking, and I realise that theirs too have the same repertory of pretty mannerisms.
Especially I found matter for complaint re Wilmer. Especially Wilmer found matter for complaint re me. Wilmer and I are friends and neighbours. No doubt the people at the exchange had made a note of it. For, if ever I rang up Wilmer, he, they told me, answered not. And, if ever Wilmer rang up me, I, they told him, was engaged. To discover that these things were not so, it was only necessary for the ringer to step across the road; nay, even a shout from the garden was sufficient.
Having matter for complaint, we complained. After that nothing could redeem us in the ears of our exchange. Formerly we got through to each other once in four shots. Thereafter the blockage was complete.
So we laid our plans.
One evening at half-past eight I rang up the exchange. "I want 4792 Marble Arch," I began.
An interval. Then, "Sorry; there's no answer."
I made a bad-tempered noise, full of incredulity and baffled urgency. And yet I was not wholly surprised; 4792 makes wall-papers up to 7 P.M., and then puts up the shutters.
I rang up the exchange.
"I want 5921 B City, please."
Again there was no answer. This was Wilmer's office. Wilmer, who was standing behind me, made them ring it up twice again to make sure. Then I went on to the other eight impossible numbers we had fixed on. They were unresponsive to a man.
Ten rings, and not a single answer!
Then we crossed to Wilmer's house.
Wilmer rang up the exchange. Bitter experience has assured us that we share the same operator.
"I want 4792 Marble Arch," he began.
4792 was still mute. So was 5921 B City. So were no fewer than all the eight further numbers prearranged.
Then I went back again and rang up 4792. This precipitated the crisis.
"I'm sorry, Sir, but I'm nearly sure I can't get them. Would you let me have a list of the numbers you want, and I'll get them when I can."
"The number I really want," I said, "is Mr. Wilmer's, 729 Lane, but I've given up trying to get that."
I was through to Wilmer like lightning; and a little later he rang me up by the same strategy.
Nowadays, if Wilmer or I have any trouble in getting one another, we have only to whisper 4792 Marble Arch, and we're through before we've thought of what to say.
* * * * *
MY HARDY ANNUAL.
I met him first three summers ago when he arrived from Baltimore with a letter of introduction from a mutual American friend. He was a tall thin clean-shaven man, a typical American of the inquiring rather than commanding type—and not a millionaire, not indeed rich at all, and rather nervous among waiters and wine lists: preferring a boarding-house in Bayswater to a caravanserai (as the newspaper men always call the big hotels). He had culture and desired more, and one way of getting it (one way, I mean, of making sure that it should be gotten) was to talk with every one he met. This I believe is an American custom.
Anyway, he arrived with his letter of introduction, and I did what I could for him—asked him to lunch, told him about picture galleries, adjured him not to see this play and that, and mentioned a few new books. Our surest common ground being American men of letters, we discussed them. We agreed that the early death of FRANK NORRIS was a blow; that GEORGE W. CABLE had style; that JOHN FOX, Junior, could tell a good story, but OWEN WISTER a better. My friend interested me greatly by stating that he had been on intimate terms with that great man, MARK TWAIN, and wondered if I had ever heard the story (which he used to tell against himself) of the visitor to his house who, after a very delightful stay, during which the humorist had been at the top of his form, asked his daughter if her father was always like that? "Only when we have company," she replied.
The next year my American friend turned up again, sending a letter in advance to say that he would be at his old address in Bayswater at a certain date, and again I wrote asking him to lunch with me, as before. He was exactly the same, even to his clothes, and we talked of American writers in what I remembered to be the identical terms of the previous year. This is one of the disadvantages of annual meetings; there is no advance. The familiar ground included our decision, reinforced, that Mrs. WHARTON was a swell, but rather on the bitter side; that it was a pity that MARY WILKINS had given up writing; that JOHN KENDRICK BANGS' name, at any rate, was funny; that AMBROSE BIERCE was a man of genius, and that OLIVER HERFORD'S continued residence in New York was a loss to England.
"A propos of humorists," said my friend, "I wonder if you have heard that story of MARK TWAIN which he often told against himself. A visitor to his house who had been greatly entertained by a constant flow of wit and satire asked MARK TWAIN'S daughter if he was always in the same good spirits. 'Only when we have company,'" she said.
In August of last year I was doomed to London owing to the frivolous holiday proclivities of certain fellow-workers, and again my Baltimore migrant was here, and again we met for our single tete-a-tete. He looked, he said, on a year as wasted, unless a part of it was spent in London and Paris. He was exactly as he had been; his voice had the same slow mirthlessness and it uttered the same flat definitive comments. He could not be surprised or shocked or amused. He had taken the world's measure and was now chiefly occupied in adding to his collection of fine men and lovely-minded women. I made an effort to get the conversation to other than American literary personages, but it was useless. To discuss Mr. ROOSEVELT he was unwilling. The name of HEARST—I mean Mr. HEARST—touched no live wire, as it does with a few of his countrymen. He had merely heard of Mr. BRISBANE, but had no information. Mr. WILSON was doing well, he thought, on the whole. Reaching books at last, we agreed again that it was a pity that Mr. JAMES LANE ALLEN wrote so little nowadays and that Mr. HOWELLS had become so silent. Mr. HOWELLS, it seemed, had felt the death of his old friend, Mr. CLEMENS—MARK TWAIN—very deeply. Had I ever heard, he wondered, that story of MARK TWAIN about a reply made to one of his visitors by his daughter?
"Yes, I have," I said.
"The visitor," he went on, "had asked her if her father was always in the jovial and witty vein in which he had been during his—the visitor's—stay."
"Yes, I know," I said.
"MARK TWAIN'S daughter," he continued, "replied that he was always like that—'when they had company.'"
He looked remorselessly at me for his reward of laughter. Since he was my guest he got it, but——
And then last week he arrived again, on his 1914 trip, and he is here now, or perhaps he is in Paris. In Europe, at any rate. He told me once more that across the Atlantic Mr. HENRY JAMES is no longer thought of as an American; that Mr. JACK LONDON, it seems, is becoming one of the most popular of writers; that ELLA WHEELER WILCOX sells probably more copies of her poetry than any English writer sells stories. He had had the pleasure of meeting Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE in New York recently, but when Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT was there he missed him, to his great regret. America was still feeling the loss of MARK TWAIN. By the way, that was a good story which MARK TWAIN used to tell against himself. A visitor——
But this time I was too clever for him. I gave a preconcerted signal to a waiter, who hurried up to tell me I was wanted on the telephone. When I returned it was to say good-bye.
And now I am safe till next summer; but last evening I met a lady who had been taken in to dinner by the American a few days ago. "A little bit pompous, perhaps," she said, "but he told me such a delightful story about MARK TWAIN that I should like to meet him again."
* * * * *
Illustration: Passenger. "IT'S CURIOUS HOW THESE SEAGULLS FOLLOW A STEAMER. DO THEY GO FAR?"
Boatman. "AY, SOMETIMES, BUT THEY'LL NOT FOLLOW HER FAR; SHE'S AN ABERDEEN BOAT."
* * * * *
The Latest from the Schoolroom.
Q. (put orally). "Where do the following races live? Berbers, Hottentots....
A. Barbers are to be found in large towns, but they are also found in some small places. They are the natives of the country, and their profession is to shave different men, for which they are paid. The Wottentots are animals that are found in the forests of England."
* * * * *
Illustration: Seventy-miles-an-hour (as he hurtles past sixty-miles-an-hour). "ARE YOU AWARE, SIR, THAT YOU SLOW-MOVING VEHICLES OUGHT TO KEEP CLOSE TO THE KERB?"
* * * * *
(A Bank Holiday Idyll.)
Sing me, I said, O Muse, and sound the trump For him not least among our noble tars Who first on tropic isle was made to jump By reason of a pericranial thump And prospect of a galaxy of stars.
And there in green retreat by coral chained Beheld the vision of the fibrous nut, And drank the nectar that its shell contained, And knew the goal accomplished and disdained The nasty skin-wound on his occiput.
He did not see the feathered palm-trees wave; He did not see the beckoning yams beneath; The turtle moaning for its soupy grave, The sound of oysters asking for a shave He heard not—he was back on Hampstead Heath.
For him no more the ocean seemed to croon Its endless legend to the listless sands; He walked abroad upon an English noon, And "Ah!" he murmured, "what a heavenly boon To rehabilitate our cock-shy stands!"
In vain Aunt Sarah with her spinster vows Entreats the Cockney sport to try his skill; Her charms are languishing, but nuts shall rouse To sterner combats and with damper brows For 'Arriet's kindly glances 'Erb and Bill.
"And ah, the little ones! With how much glee Their eyes shall gaze upon the oily fruit! I shall behold them scamper o'er the lea, Their warm young lips, in part from ecstasy, In part from palatable nut-meat, mute."
Such was the man, I said, and praised the worth Of all who make the cocoanut their ploy; And thought, "I too will have a round of mirth," And threw—and brought one hairy globe to earth. And, turning round, beheld a ragged boy.
So smirched he was, so pitiful a lad That when I saw the teardrop in his eye I gave the nut to him. It made him glad; He took it proudly off to show his dad— His dad was the conductor of the shy.
* * * * *
The Latest Cinema Poster.
"WANTED BY THE POLICE, 4,200 feet."
In any other profession they advertise for hands. It is a pleasant distinction.
* * * * *
From a circus advertisement in India:—
"It gives a great pleasure to all to see a goat, (1) riding on another goat, (2) placing its neck against the neck of the other, (3) walking on its knees, (4) pretending to lie dead, and many other feats of men."
For the moment we cannot remember to have performed any of these manly feats.
* * * * *
The conversation had turned, as it always does in the smoking-rooms of golf clubs, to the state of poor old England, and Porkins had summed the matter up. He had marched round in ninety-seven that morning, followed by a small child with an umbrella and an arsenal of weapons, and he felt in form with himself.
"What England wants," he said, leaning back, and puffing at his cigar,—"what England wants is a war. (Another whisky and soda, waiter.) We're getting flabby. All this pampering of the poor is playing the very deuce with the country. A bit of a scrap with a foreign power would do us all the good in the world." He disposed of his whisky at a draught. "We're flabby," he repeated. "The lower classes seem to have no sense of discipline nowadays. We want a war to brace us up."
* * * * *
It is well understood in Olympus that Porkins must not be disappointed. What will happen to him in the next world I do not know, but it will be something extremely humorous; in this world, however, he is to have all that he wants. Accordingly the gods got to work.
In the little village of Ospovat, which is in the south-eastern corner of Ruritania, there lived a maiden called Maria Strultz, who was engaged to marry Captain Tomsk.
"I fancy," said one of the gods, "that it might be rather funny if Maria jilted the Captain. I have an idea that it would please Porkins."
"Whatever has Maria—" began a very young god, but he was immediately suppressed.
"Really," said the other, "I should have thought it was sufficiently obvious. You know what these mortals are." He looked round to them all. "Is it agreed then?"
It was agreed.
So Maria Strultz jilted the Captain.
Now this, as you may imagine, annoyed Captain Tomsk. He commanded a frontier fort on the boundary between Ruritania and Essenland, and his chief amusement in a dull life was to play cards with the Essenland captain, who commanded the fort on the other side of the river. When Maria's letter came he felt that the only thing to do was to drown himself; on second thoughts he decided to drown his sorrows first. He did this so successfully that at the end of the evening he was convinced that it was not Maria who had jilted him, but the Essenland captain who had jilted Maria; whereupon he rowed across the river and poured his revolver into the Essenland flag which was flying over the fort. Maria thus revenged, he went home to bed, and woke next morning with a bad headache.
("Now we're off," said the gods in Olympus.)
In Diedeldorf, the capital of Essenland, the leader-writers proceeded to remove their coats.
"The blood of every true Essenlander," said the leader-writer of the Diedeldorf Patriot, after sending out for another pot of beer, "will boil when it hears of this fresh insult to our beloved flag, an insult which can only be wiped out with blood." Then seeing that he had two "bloods" in one sentence, he crossed the second one out, substituted "the sword," and lit a fresh cigarette. "For years Essenland has writhed under the provocations of Ruritania, but has preserved a dignified silence; this last insult is more than flesh and blood can stand." Another "blood" had got in, but it was a new sentence and he thought it might be allowed to remain. "We shall not be accused of exaggeration if we say that Essenland would lose, and rightly lose, her prestige in the eyes of Europe if she let this affront pass unnoticed. In a day she would sink from a first-rate to a fifth-rate power." But he didn't say how.
The Chancellor of Essenland, in a speech gravely applauded by both sides of the House, announced the steps he had taken. An ultimatum had been sent to Ruritania demanding an apology, an indemnity of a hundred thousand marks, and the public degradation of Captain Tomsk, whose epaulettes were to be torn off by the Commander-in-Chief of the Essenland Army in the presence of a full corps of cinematograph artists. Failing this, war would be declared.
Ruritania offered the apology, the indemnity, and the public degradation of Captain Tomsk, but urged that this last ceremony would be better performed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Ruritanian Army; otherwise Ruritania might as well cease to be a sovereign state, for she would lose her prestige in the eyes of Europe.
There was only one possible reply to this, and Essenland made it. She invaded Ruritania.
("Aren't they wonderful?" said the gods in Olympus to each other.
"But haven't you made a mistake?" asked the very young god. "Porkins lives in England, not Essenland."
"Wait a moment," said the others.)
* * * * *
In the capital of Borovia the leader-writer of the Borovian Patriot got to work. "How does Borovia stand?" he asked. "If Essenland occupies Ruritania, can any thinking man in Borovia feel safe with the enemy at his gates?" (The Borovian peasant, earning five marks a week, would have felt no less safe than usual, but then he could hardly be described as a thinking man.) "It is vital to the prestige of Borovia that the integrity of Ruritania should be preserved. Otherwise we may resign ourselves at once to the prospect of becoming a fifth-rate power in the eyes of Europe." And in a speech, gravely applauded by all parties, the Borovian Chancellor said the same thing. So the Imperial Army was mobilized and, amidst a wonderful display of patriotic enthusiasm by those who were remaining behind, the Borovian troops marched to the front....
("And there you are," said the gods in Olympus.
"But even now——" began the very young god doubtfully.
"Silly, isn't Felicia the ally of Essenland; isn't Marksland the ally of Borovia; isn't England the ally of the ally of the ally of the Country which holds the balance of power between Marksland and Felicia?"
"But if any of them thought the whole thing stupid or unjust or——"
"Their prestige," said the gods gravely, trying not to laugh.
"Oh, I see," said the very young god.)
* * * * *
And when a year later the hundred-thousandth English mother woke up to read that her boy had been shot, I am afraid she shed foolish tears and thought that the world had come to an end.
Poor short-sighted creature! She didn't realise that Porkins, who had marched round in ninety-six the day before, was now thoroughly braced up.
("What babies they all are," said the very young god.)
A. A. M.
* * * * *
An Invidious Distinction.
"An Opening offers for a GENTLEMAN or Public School man...."
Advt. in "The Times."
* * * * *
"At moderate expenditure he has increased the stock-carrying capacity of his holding many times over, and can now fatten both cattle and sheep, where formerly either had only a bear subsistence."—Times.
To the question, "What do bears subsist on?" we believe the answer to be, "Honey and American trappers."
* * * * *
Where to wear your Hat.
"The Misses Buckley (Llandaff) were dressed—the one in a cerise coat and skirt, relieved at the waist with a black patent band and hat to correspond...."—South Wales Daily News.
* * * * *
Illustration: Police Sergeant (having swallowed with gurgling sounds and smacking of lips a pint of beer given him by publican at his back door after hours) to intruding Constable. "WHAT HAVE YOU COME ROUND HERE FOR?"
Police Constable. "I HEARD AN UNUSUAL SOUND, SIR."
* * * * *
THE DOUBLE CURE.
"The hair," said the assistant, "is very thick."
"If you refer to mine," I replied, "it is frightfully thick."
He looked at it reflectively. "It is very thick," he said; "very thick," and he jabbed the comb into it.
"On the other hand," I pointed out, "my skull is very thin."
"And the comb is very sharp."
He apologized, pulled the comb out, and jabbed it back not quite so severely.
"Very sharp," } }we murmured together. "Very thick," }
"I will thin it out," he suggested.
"As long as you get it out painlessly, I don't mind," I said, and I lay back and studied the bottles.
"It's a curious thing," I observed, "but mine is the only case for which you hairdressers fail to provide."
"I don't quite follow, Sir."
"Well," I explained, "for any degree of baldness you provide remedies by the hundreds. You offer to invigorate the hair, to dress it, to bring it up in the way it should go, and to produce it in any quantity."
The light of battle came into the assistant's eye and he moved to the wash-basin.
"Yes," he said, picking up a bottle of oily mixture, "this preparation, for instance, is really to be recommended. The famous Criniline."
He held it aloft and the neighbouring assistant barely suppressed a cheer. "I've sold——"
"That's all very well," I objected, "but where do I come in?"
"Well, Sir"—he held out his scissors—"these surely are effective."
"Cutting only makes it grow more quickly. The beastly stuff's so thick," I complained, "I can't do anything with it. What I want is some stuff——"
"——stuff for thinning my hair."
"For thinning the hair. Yes, Sir." He combed the atmosphere thoughtfully. "I should like to sell you something, Sir."
Of a sudden he snipped excitedly. "I have it!" he exclaimed. He moved back to the washstand and picked up a bottle. "The very thing," he said. He looked round cautiously, bent down towards my ear and coughed nervously. "Of course," he said, "this is—er—not a preparation for your particular complaint. I—er—it—between our two selves, Sir, it was—er—intended for other purposes."
"Yes?" I said.
"But, Sir, it may be just what you require."
"Yes, yes." I held my hand out for the bottle.
"Yes, Sir," he whispered. "It may be. At any rate I happen to know for a fact there is no possible danger of its increasing the growth of the hair."
And he handed me the famous Criniline.
To show my appreciation of his honesty I bought two bottles.
* * * * *
From a Provision catalogue:—
"Lamb.... Should shoulders be ordered Legs will be sent."
* * * * *
"BERLIN. Saturday.—It is stated that the Crown Prince is to assume the command of the troops at Belgrade.—Reuter."—Observer.
As this comes from Berlin we assume that the reference is to the GERMAN CROWN PRINCE. If so, he's got on the wrong side by mistake.
* * * * *
Illustration: Mary (exploring). "OH, LOOK, MUMMIE, I'VE FOUND A SNUGGLER'S CAVE!"
* * * * *
THE PACKER'S PLAINT.
Yes, I must pack my things, and, what is worse, Must pack alone, for James, my faithful man, The ancient servitor who knows my wants, Is busy, and to-day he cannot aid. The house is in a turmoil, and the maids Speed to and fro without a moment's stay. The corridors and all the rooms resound With footfalls, and the lady of the house, Her sleeves tucked up (they always tuck their sleeves), Her working-apron girt about her form, Bustles around and issues her commands, As who should say, "Behold me as I pack; This is no place for men who do not pack. Who play with dogs, or smoke their cigarettes, Or read the papers, getting in the way Of workers." So she packs and packs and packs. Four children in their various rooms have spread All the contents of drawers upon the floor, A most insane disorder, while they eat Cream chocolates, for their mother is not there. They too wear aprons, and their cheeks are red, Their hair is tousled, and the rooms resound With battle-cry and challenge, and the air Is thick with things they hurl at one another. And I, too, yield and go to pack my things. Yet how shall man decide what he may want In four revolving weeks; what hats, what coats, How many collars and what handkerchiefs, What flannel trousers—all the articles, Shoes, scissors, waistcoats, gaudy ties and boots, Socks, safety-razor-blades and leather belts, Studs, links, dress-suit, and plain and coloured shirts, And undervests—the articles, in short, That make a man in very truth a man? Did AGAMEMNON, when he rushed to war, And sought the dreadful fields of Ilium— Did he pack up, or trust the thing to slaves, Saying, "Put in my six best pairs of greaves, Four regal mantles, sandals for the shore, And fourteen glittering helmets with their plumes, And ten strong breastplates and a sheaf of swords, And crowns and robes and tunics, and of spears A goodly number, such as may beseem The office and the valour of a King. Ay, and if one least thing you should forget Your lives shall pay the forfeit. Go and pack?" If it was thus that AGAMEMNON spake I envy him, for I must pack alone. I shall forget the necessary things And take the useless, having none to blame Save only my incomparable mind.
* * * * *
A Sporting Offer.
From The Times on the Servian Chief of Staff:—
"As the Austro-Hungarian Army is imbued with a much too chivalrous feeling to deprive the Servian Army of its loader an opportunity will be given him to continue his journey to Servia to-day, and a special saloon carriage will be placed at his disposal.—Reuter."
An unusual luxury for a loader.
* * * * *
"HEADSTONE, cost L12, for L7; selling cheap through death of proprietor."—Glasgow Evening Citizen.
Not sufficient reason for us.
* * * * *
Illustration: MUTUAL SERVICE.
BRITANNIA (to Peace). "I'VE BEEN DOING MY BEST FOR YOU IN EUROPE; PLEASE DO YOUR BEST FOR ME IN IRELAND."
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, July 27.—To-day set apart for consideration of Navy Estimates. To-morrow assigned to Second Reading of Home Rule Amending Bill come over from the Lords. Up to yesterday public attention centred on latter event. Questions reverberated: What will Premier do with the Bill? What will follow on his action?
This morning British Public wakes up not to one startling surprise but to two. War is imminent in East of Europe. War has actually broken out in streets of Dublin.
Nearer event illustrates afresh the unfathomable versatility of Ireland. For months the country has been taught to expect armed outbreak in Ulster. At any moment, we were told, the patience of the Ulster volunteer, with current of events devised and controlled by constituted authority, would collapse. Civil war would be in full swing.
At moment when postponement of threatened action had lulled public into sense of security, news comes of conflict between armed volunteers and a detachment of soldiers of the line. In newspaper columns appear stirring pictures of populace thronging the streets and stoning the soldiers as they march back to their barracks; of volleys fired in defence and reprisal; of men, women and children falling dead or wounded in the streets. And lo! the volunteers on the warpath are not Ulstermen, but Nationalists. The city given up to murderous riot is not Belfast, but Dublin.
House meets in half-dazed condition to face this amazing jumble of the unexpected. JOHN REDMOND moves adjournment in order to discuss it. Interest of situation intensified by circumstance that the rifle shots fired by the O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, did more than kill three citizens and wound thirty-two others. They threaten to dissolve compact between Irish Nationalists and HIS MAJESTY'S Ministers. Sorely strained on occasions, it has hitherto remained inviolate. With South and West of Ireland looking on suspiciously at relations with Saxon Government—a necessity admitted but its existence never liked—it behoved AGAG REDMOND to walk delicately.
Accomplished feat with considerable skill. Appeared from official statement that, as sometimes happens in Ireland in analogous cases—on the Curragh, for example—someone had blundered into direct opposition to Ministerial policy and intention. Troops had been called out by authority of a minor official. Firing had opened in the streets of Dublin without word of command from officer in charge of detachment. Supreme representatives of Government, whether at the Irish Office or Dublin Castle, were innocent of offence. They were simply unfortunate—which in some cases is worse than being guilty.
* * * * *
Illustration: "I have had considerable experience, perhaps a larger experience than any man in this House, of being taken to task for the actions of those who were my subordinates or my colleagues. [Laughter]."—Mr. ASQUITH.
* * * * *
On the whole, debate carried through with marvellous repression of Party passion. It is true LORD BOB suggested that Ministers should be hanged (or "suspended," as he put it). That is only his way of expressing diversity of opinion on matters of detail. Division keenly looked forward to. Would Redmondites be satisfied with suspension of Sub-Commissioner of Dublin Police when they demanded head of Chief Commissioner on a charger? Would they abstain from the division, or would they, joyously relapsing into original state of nature, "go agin the Government"?
Catastrophe averted by resisting motion for closure and carrying debate over eleven o'clock, when it automatically stood adjourned.
Business done.—Clontarf "incident" discussed.
Tuesday.—The elephant is justly proud of the range of its adaptability. As every schoolboy knows, with its mighty trunk it can uproot a tree or pick up a pin. Analogy found in case of House of Commons, with perhaps a preference for picking up pins.
This afternoon the war-cloud lies low over East of Europe. News momentarily expected—it arrived before the dinner-hour—that Austria had declared war against Servia. Match thus applied to trail of gunpowder, no one can say how far or in what direction the flame may travel. Meanwhile ominous fact that by way of precaution other Powers are preparing to mobilise. In addition to grave happenings abroad, we have at home our own little war. Sudden outburst of fury in streets of Dublin last Sunday indicates grave possibilities in the near future.
In these circumstances reasonable to suppose attention of House would be centred on these contingencies, its demeanour attuned accordingly. On the contrary, liveliest interest at Question-hour aroused by discovery that persons employed in business of peeling onions are exempt from payment of Insurance Tax.
House and country indebted to FRED HALL for disclosure of this remarkable circumstance. As a rule his questions do not attract the measure of attention their merit possibly demands. This largely due to fact that they are so numerous, so constant in appearance on the paper, and are doubled, sometimes trebled, by supplementaries devised in the spirit the SPEAKER delicately describes as animated by desire rather to give information than to seek it.
But this discovery of the super-eminence of the onion-peeler in the matter of freedom from taxation instantly riveted attention. It was news even to WORTHINGTON EVANS, who has spent his days and nights in mastering obscurities of Insurance Act. From all parts of the House came sharp inquiry for further information. Was the potato-peeler also exempt? If not, why not?
Trying moment for WEDGWOOD BENN. Faced it with customary courage and something more than habitual rotundity of official phraseology.
"Employment as an onion-peeler," he oracularly said, "has in a special order been specified as a subsidiary employment, and contributions are not required to be paid in respect of persons so employed."
That all very well as far as it went. It did not go to the length of explaining the mystery that racked the mind of all sections of parties. Why the onion-peeler in particular?
* * * * *
Illustration: [According to Mr. HEALY'S interpretation of what he called "a kind of foreshore doctrine of legality," the PRIME MINISTER had laid it down that guns are liable to seizure on the shore below high water mark, but that, once they are fairly on dry land, "the proclamation has exhausted itself."]
I.—OUTSIDE THE LAW. II.—WITHIN THE LAW.
* * * * *
SPEAKER stayed storm of renewed interrogation by calling on next question. Some time before ordinary calm was restored. On benches above Gangway on Opposition side there is rooted belief that there is more in this than meets the eye. LLOYD GEORGE is evidently at the bottom of what begins to look like a bad business.
Business done.—In Committee of Supply, Colonial vote agreed to. Progress made with Education vote, amounting this year to modest total of L9,480,621.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S HOLIDAY STORIES.
(Constructed after the best models.)
I.—AN ALPINE ADVENTURE.
Inside the Fahrjoch Hut a merry clatter of tin mugs proclaimed that a climbing party was supping. Ralph Wonderson paused for a moment, thoughtfully stroking his crampons, before he threw open the door and entered.
Two stalwart and sunburnt young Englishmen, a beautiful fair-haired English girl, and three hirsute and jovial Swiss guides were feasting on the sardines and dried plums which experience has shown to be the best diet for mountaineers. They looked up cheerily as he entered, and greeted him with the easy camaraderie of the mountains.
Gratefully relieving himself of his rope, ice-axe, Baedeker, goggles, corkscrew, crampons and other impedimenta of the expert Alpinist, Ralph seated himself beside the girl.
"You look tired," she said sympathetically.
"Yes," he replied, picking up a sardine by its tail and dropping it into his mouth with the ease of one long accustomed to mountain huts. "Yes, I've just satisfied a long-cherished ambition by doing the Matterhorn and the Jungfrau in the same day without guides."
There was an instant chorus of admiration. The three guides rose to their feet and gazed at the newcomer in astonishment.
"Ja wohl! Auf wiedersehen!" they said warmly.
There is no body of men in the world so free from petty jealousy as the Swiss guides.
"It is nothing," said Ralph lightly. "What are your plans for to-morrow? I rather thought of taking things easily myself and doing the Wetterhorn. I wondered——"
"I'm sure we should be delighted to join you," said the girl, "if you could consent to be accompanied by such undistinguished climbers. Let me introduce ourselves. This is my cousin, Sir Ernest Scrivener. This is my brother, Lord Tamerton. I am Margaret Tamerton."
"Lady Margaret Tamerton!" cried Ralph in amazement. "Little Madge! Don't you remember me—Ralph Wonderson, your playmate as a child?"
"Ralph!" exclaimed Lady Margaret. "Oh, of course! And I haven't seen you since you whitewashed all the guinea-pigs and were sent away to school."
* * * * *
Several hours later Lady Margaret stood with Ralph on the terrace outside the hut. Her eyes plunged into the awful abyss at their feet, swept along the moonlit valley thousands and thousands of feet below them, and fastened themselves upon the sinister crags of the Lyskamm and the stupendous dome of Mont Blanc. A lump came into her throat.
"I don't know why," she said softly, "but I have a presentiment of evil. Is the Wetterhorn very dangerous?"
Ralph laughed lightly. "A child could climb it blindfolded in midwinter," he said. "Trust yourself to me, little Madge, to-morrow and—and——"
"For ever!" added Margaret almost inaudibly as they went into the hut together.
Mingled happiness and foreboding strangely disturbed her breast, and she sighed as she trod heavily on the face of one of the guides in climbing to her shelf. She heard his low sleepy murmur of apology as she drew her straw about her. There is no more courteous body of men in the world than the Swiss guides.
Next morning, after a hasty toilet with a handful of snow, the party set off shortly before sunrise. Ralph by general consent assumed the leadership. Taking careful soundings with his ice-axe and using his crampons with almost uncanny certitude, he guided his companions through a moraine and debouched on to a tremendous glacier.
As he turned to survey those behind them he perceived for the first time a scar under the left ear of Sir Ernest Scrivener.
"Teufel!" he exclaimed under his breath. "It is he! Moorsdyke! My mortal enemy!" But his meditations were interrupted by the stern nature of the work before them. Their route led them along the foot of a line of towering and trembling seracs. The vibration of a whisper might send them crashing down upon the party.
Placing one hand on his lips as a warning for silence, he dexterously cut steps in the ice with the other. Progress was slow and nerve racking. Every step had to be taken with infinite precaution. Once Lord Tamerton slipped and would have fallen headlong to destruction had not Ralph caught him by the ear and lifted him back into his steps.
But at length the trying passage was almost accomplished. Only Sir Ernest Scrivener remained in peril.
Unconsciously Ralph removed his fingers from his lips. Inexperienced as a climber, Sir Ernest imagined this to be a signal that the danger was now over.
"I say," he began.
It was enough. In an instant the whole line of seracs toppled from their bases and thundered down upon him. Ralph did not hesitate. The man was his most deadly enemy, but—he was Lady Margaret's cousin. Ralph sprang to the rope; it snapped like thread between his fingers.
With a cry of despair Sir Ernest vanished in the roaring avalanche of ice and snow. Throwing a quick reassuring smile to Lady Margaret, Ralph joined his hands above his head and dived unflinchingly after him.
(To be concluded in our next.)
* * * * *
Illustration: Golfer (playing his second round in the day). "INTO THIS BEASTLY BUNKER AGAIN, CADDIE!"
Caddie. "NO, S'. THIS IS THE ONE YOU MISSED THIS MORNING."
* * * * *
THE WISER CHOICE.
[A weekly paper points out that letters of proposal should be carefully timed to arrive in the evening, that being the sentimental time of the day when acceptance is most likely.]
Good Sir, your directions are all very fine, But, when I propose by the pen trick, I shall look for a temper to tolerate mine, And mine is distinctly eccentric; If she, in the morning, is likely to grouse, If her breakfast demeanour is surly, There would not be room for us both in the house; I'm peevish myself when it's early.
So rather I'd have her most critical mood Prevail at the time of my wooing; I'd like to be sure that the girl understood Exactly the thing she was doing. I feel in my heart it were better for me To double the risk of rejection, In order (if haply accepted) to be A calm and cold-blooded selection.
Let my letter arrive when the day at its start Provokes a malevolent feeling; Her answer may puncture a hole in my heart, But Time is an expert at healing; And that will be better than learning too late, At the end of the honeymoon season, That the lady had only consented to mate In an hour that was bad for her reason.
* * * * *
From a concert programme at Brighton:—
"Parsifal. Tannhaeuser. Walkuere. Gotterdaemmerung. Siegfried. Tristan and Isolde. Requiem for 3 cellos and orchestra."
The last item does not surprise us.
* * * * *
"ANSTRUTHER.—Comf. roofs, 2 beds, 25th July on; sea view."—Glasgow Herald.
The fresh air craze is spreading.
* * * * *
For reasons of economy we get all our household requisites from Moggridge's Stores in the Tottenham Court Road, where we have a deposit account. Joan once worked out that by shopping in this manner we saved ninepence-halfpenny every time we spent one pound four and fivepence (her arithmetic cannot cope with percentages), besides having our goods delivered at the door by a motor van. This is a distinct score off our neighbours, who have to be content with theirs being brought round by a boy on a kind of three-wheeled Black-Maria.
We are not on the telephone at home, so it is my part of the arrangement to ring up Moggridge's when I arrive at my office, and order what we want; that is, whenever I remember. But unfortunately I own the most impossible of head-pieces. It's all right to look at from the outside, but inside the valves leak, or else the taps run. Consequently it generally ends in Joan's writing a note when I return home in the evening. Thus I was not altogether surprised when, one morning after breakfast, Joan asked me to repeat her orders. I did so. "That's not what I said!" cried Joan. "That's only what you thought I said. I did not even mention smoked salmon. Now listen while I tell you again; or, better still, write it down on a piece of paper."
"That's no good," I said. "I always lose the paper. But go on with the list; I've got a very good idea."
"Two pounds of Mocha coffee," she began.
I picked up two coffee beans from the tray—Joan self-grinds and self-makes the coffee every morning—and placed them amongst the loose change in my trouser pocket.
"Fourteen pounds of best loaf sugar," she went on.
I drew my handkerchief from my sleeve, tied a small lump of sugar in a corner of it, and then placed it inside my hat.
"Why put it in your hat?" asked Joan.
"Because," I answered, "I may not have occasion to draw my handkerchief from its usual place, whereas I always have to take my hat off."
"How will you remember the quantity?".
"Well, fourteen pounds make one stone, don't they? Before I remember the hard thing is a piece of sugar I shall think it's a stone."
Joan sniffed contemptuously.
"Then there's my ring," she continued, "the diamond and sapphire one that I left for resetting. The estimate they promised has not come, and besides there's the——"
"Hold on a minute!" I cried. "Just tie a piece of cotton round my married finger."
She did so. Then she went on:
"The drawing-room clock should have been sent home, cleaned, last Friday. They haven't sent it."
"Perhaps they expected it to run down," I suggested.
Joan bore up wonderfully, and merely said, "Well—do something. Put the sardines in your pocket-book, or the marmalade in your gloves."
"Those," I said, "are not, strictly speaking, mnemonics for sending home cleaned clocks. They would be all right for a picnic tea-basket, but not for the thing in question. Everything I have done up to the present is suggestive of what I have to remember," and I turned my watch round in my pocket so that it faced outwards.
"I see," said Joan. "Now, what's the cotton round your finger for?"
"Smoked sa—, that is to say, coff—, I mean the estimate for your ring," I answered. "Is there anything else?"
"Another box of stationery like the last—the crinkly paper, you know. They've got our die."
I tore a strip from the newspaper, crinkled it carefully and put it away in my cigarette-case. A minute later I was on my way to the railway-station.
A keen head-wind was blowing, causing my eyes to water and the tears to flow unbidden. I explored my sleeve for my handkerchief. It was not there. I could not possibly go to town without one, so I hastened home again. Joan was at the window as I ran up.
"What is it?" she cried.
"My handkerchief!" I gasped. "I've forgotten——"
"Fourteen pounds of best loaf sugar!" called out Joan. "It's in your hat."
As I hurried once more in the direction of the station I withdrew the handkerchief from my hat and wiped my streaming eyes. The operation over, I placed the handkerchief in my sleeve. I heard the whistle of a train in the distance and instinctively took out my watch. It was right-about-face in my pocket, and I lost a good half-second in getting it into the correct position for time-telling. It was nine-seventeen. I had just one minute in which to do the quarter-mile; but my forte is the egg-and-spoon race, and I missed the train handsomely.
There was an interval of twenty minutes before the next one was due, so I thought I would have a cigarette. I opened my case, and a piece of paper fluttered to the ground. I picked it up and glanced at it. On one side I read that "... knocked out Submarine Snooks in the ninth round after a hotly—contested ..." while on the other side I saw that "... condition offers the gravest anxiety to his numerous friends and ..." I threw the paper away, for it did not interest me, and walked up to the bookstall to select a magazine. I had to remove my left glove in order to get at my money, and in pulling it off I noticed a shred of cotton come away with it. This meant an inside seam gone somewhere; and they were new gloves, too. I threw a coin to the paper-boy, and two small round objects like boot-buttons rolled on to the platform. Shortly afterwards the train strolled up.
At the office I was so busy all day, arranging about the shipment of a steam-crane to Siam (I am a commission-agent), that it was not until I was seated in the train, going home in the evening, that I vaguely remembered that I had forgotten something. I grew more and more uneasy, and, with the idea of distracting my thoughts from an unpleasant channel, I picked up an evening paper from underneath the opposite seat. At some quite recent period it had obviously contained nourishment of an oleaginous nature, but, though soiled, it was still legible. The very first paragraph which I read served to remind me of Joan's forgotten orders; but it brought me, nevertheless, an unholy joy, for it ran: "The funeral of the late Mr. Jeremiah Moggridge, founder and managing director of the mammoth stores which bear his name, took place this afternoon. As a mark of respect the premises were closed for business throughout the day."
So it would have been futile to ring them up in any case. I was saved!
On reaching home the first thing Joan said to me was—
"Did you order those things from Moggridge's?"
I didn't say anything. I merely handed her the evening paper and indicated the saving clause. Joan read it through. Then she said—
"Yes, I thought you'd mess it all up in spite of your ichneumonics, or whatever you call them; and so after lunch I went to the call-office and ordered the things myself."
"But Moggridge's was closed—didn't you read?"
"Yes," replied Joan; "but, next time you forget, don't try to establish an alibi with yesterday's evening paper."
* * * * *
Our private telephone will be fixed by next week. I forget how much Joan reckons we shall save by it.
* * * * *
Illustration: Rev. Brown. "I'M AFRAID, MY DEAR YOUNG LADY, I KNOW VERY LITTLE OF AGRICULTURAL MATTERS; IN FACT I DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MANGEL AND A WURZEL."
* * * * *
THE PASSING OF THE COW.
[The Soya bean, grown in Japan, Korea and Manchuria, is said to provide a perfect substitute for milk.]
Tout lasse, tout casse, tout passe: All mortal flesh is grass, Mown down by Time at the appointed hour; And in the world of speed The noblest Arab steed Yields, O Combustion, to thy pent-up power.
On Youth of ardent aim No more Mazeppa's fame Or TURPIN'S feats exert their ancient spell; NAPIER and WOLSELEY stand No more for war's command, But only steel and rubber, oil and smell.
Where once men safely strode Along the open road, A sinister and stertorous machine Exhales its acrid breath And deals impartial death To all the dwellers on the village green.
And now, O gentle cow, Man's foster-mother, thou, Must tread the fatal path the horse hath trod, Since scientists have found That milk and cream abound Within the compass of an Eastern pod.
No more shall we behold, As in the days of old, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea; Or Mary, mid the foam, Calling her cattle home, Across the sands, the perilous sands o' Dee.
Mourn, Alderney, and mourn, O maiden all forlorn, The cow with crumpled horn that filled thy pail; Mourn, damsels, mourn and sigh Who can no more reply, "I'm going a milking" to the curious male.
Mourn too, for ye shall feel The change at every meal, Ye minions of the hearthrug; be not mute, Ye Persians, topaz-eyed, When mistresses provide This miserable Soya substitute.
In legendary lore The cow was wont to soar With Daedalean art above the moon; But ah! the cardboard cows That by the railroad browse To no elopement prompt the modern spoon.
On earth men owned thy sway From Lapland to Cathay; In heaven the Milky Way thy might confessed: Weaklings we saw become Strong, thanks to thee and rum, And Punch of all ingredients found milk best.
But, heedless of a debt He never should forget, Ungrateful man is planning to replace By vegetable aid The kindly service paid By your mild-natured and sweet-breathing race.
Yet, ere the Soya boom Achieves the dairy's doom, And rude bean-crushers oust the homely churn, Let one unworthy scribe Salute the vaccine tribe And lay his wreath upon their funeral urn.
* * * * *
"The native inhabitants produce all manner of curios, the great majority of which appear to command a ready sale among the visitors, crude and commonplace as these frequently are."—Bulawayo Chronicle.
They are; but, bless their hearts, they seem to enjoy themselves.
* * * * *
"EXETER.—Young Cook-General, willing to learn; small family, no children; no basement. No religion preferred."
Western Morning News.
She forgot to add "No meals to serve."
* * * * *
MY GIRL CADDIE.
As a matter of fact she was my gardener's chauffeur-son's girl. The junior parent having been living chiefly on my garden or in my kitchen, and now being at the end of his resources, it was suggested that I should give his Amy a job. The proposal came from my wife, who had been victualling Amy's mother and Amy's baby sister for some weeks. An illuminating correspondence in the Press had done the rest.
For her first appointment at the tee Amy was nearly twenty minutes late, and when she arrived it was in a mauve skirt, green stockings, an ochre sporting coat and a hat which had once been my wife's. Seen against the background of the native boy caddies, Amy might have been described as picturesque.
"Mother says," said Amy, as we introduced ourselves—"Mother says she's sorry you should be kep', but baby's used to going off, me rocking 'im, and she was that busy, it being the day what she mostly washes."
"Very well, Amy," I said, realising the situation, "we must do better next time. The gentleman I was to play would not wait; but perhaps, if we just went round together, you could get an idea of your—your duties."
Amy accepted my suggestion and my bag of clubs with an abstracted sniff. She seemed to be more closely engaged in retorting by manual signals to the distant provocations of her male rivals.
"Now, Amy," I reminded her gently, "you must learn how to make a tee."
Amy turned reluctantly and stared over my bent back at the Miss Galbraiths, who were just starting for the ladies' course.
"First of all," I began more firmly, "you take a pinch of sand from this box—so." Tee-making is not my forte, and I was painfully conscious that I worked under the critical gaze of fully twenty expert eyes.
"If you please," said Amy in a brighter mood, "mother says I'll want some things to clean up the sticks with."
I rose from my knees with a cricked back, but I had my Purple Spot neatly balanced on a really creditable mound.
"We shall come to that presently, Amy," I explained. "When I have finished playing you can take the clubs and make them nice and bright with emery-paper."
Amy did not take this proposal encouragingly.
"Mother says I should want some turps," she informed me, "and brickdus' and some whitin' to finish, and some methelay. She says she don't 'old with the way Jimmy Baines and the rest of 'em does it. Mother says the sticks should be cleaned proper, as they oughter be. She says she'd 'ave give me the things, only she ain't got any, and I was to ask if it was convenience to you to spare me the money to go to the village and get 'em. Then she'd show me 'ow."
I had discovered my driver behind Amy's back and was preparing to get away, but these views of Amy's mother were so complete an innovation that I paused. On the verge of a first drive I had never in my life stopped to consider the ethics of golf-club cleaning. Why had not Amy a pocket and a rag of sand-paper like resourceful Jimmy Baines? I don't remember to have ever read anything on the niceties of the art of scouring clubs. It is a subject on which the writers of golfing articles—prolific enough, as Heaven knows, about other and more negligible aspects of the game—seem to have adopted an attitude of studied reticence.
"Look here, Amy," I said rather severely, "you really must not talk. You must remember you are here to carry my clubs, not to tell me about your mother. My iron clubs must be cleaned precisely as they always have been cleaned. That is entirely your department of the game, and you must stand at least three yards further away or I shall probably kill you." Then I drove, sliced hideously, and landed in long grass a hundred yards to the right.
Some premonition of feminine detachment prompted me to keep my eyes rigidly on the tuft which concealed my ball, as I strode forward. But half-way I turned. I felt Amy was not with me. She was standing precisely where I had left her, her hat off, her pink tongue stuck out in the direction of the caddies' shed.
"Amy!" I shouted, and the sound of my voice had an indescribably incongruous and humiliating echo. "Amy, come here at once; how dare——"
Amy came ambling across the fairway, hat in hand, my bag of clubs left where she had deposited them upside down in the tee-box for greater freedom in responding with gestures of defiance to the chaff of the enemy.
"Now look here," I said as Amy stood wonderingly before me; "I am very, very disappointed in you—very, very angry. You wanted to earn your living, I understood?"
Amy's brows darkened but her lips were slightly tremulous.
"Mother won't let me go into the laundry," she said sulkily, "'cos father says I'm not sperienced enough, and Jimmy Baines give me 'is cheek, so I give it 'im back."
Thus we stood surveying the situation, my girl-caddie and I. There seemed at the moment only one sane way of ending it.
"Very well, Amy," I said dispassionately, "you had better run home and tell your mother—tell your mother to come up to the house after dinner, if there's anything she needs."
Amy resigned her position without a murmur; but before she went she extracted two paintless, weary-looking golf-balls from the pocket of her mauve skirt and offered me them for sixpence.
* * * * *
I know a wood on the top of a hill, Hyacinth-carpeted March till May, Where nights are wonderful, soft and still, And a deep-sea twilight hangs all day; The loving labour of fairy hands Has made it heavenly fine to see, And just outside it the cottage stands, The cottage that doesn't belong to me. A cottage, mind, And I'm sure you'd find It was damp and dirty and very confined; Oh, quite an ordinary keeper's cottage That doesn't belong to me.
Creatures people the wood at night; Peaceable animals come and play; Pan's own pipes, if you hear aright, Charm you on as you go your way; And all the Arcady folk of yore Make songs of the days that used to be, Which carry perhaps to the cottage door, The cottage that doesn't belong to me. But it's miles from town And it's tumble-down, And the woodwork's done and the slates are brown; No one could really live in the cottage That doesn't belong to me.
Fair be the towns by the river-side, Maidenhead, Richmond, Henley, Kew, Crammed with cottages far and wide, The thing for people like me and you; But I think of the haunting forest-lights And a path that wanders from tree to tree, Where the man of the cottage might walk o' nights, The cottage that doesn't belong to me. And it may be wrong, But it won't be long Before the feeling becomes too strong And I'll go and jolly well get that cottage That doesn't belong to me.
* * * * *
Illustration: A NEW AQUATIC SPORT HAS BEEN INVENTED. IT IS KNOWN AS "PLANKING," AND CONSISTS IN STANDING UPON A BOARD TOWED BY A FAST MOTOR-BOAT. SOME WHO HAVE TRIED IT CONSIDER THE PLEASURE OVER-RATED.
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Reality (CASSELL) deserves to rank high amongst the novels of the present season; it has, indeed, qualities that will cause it, if I am not mistaken, to outlive most of them. The chief of these I can best express by the word colour; by which I mean not only a picturesque setting, but temperament and a fine sense of the romantic in life. Perhaps I ought to have known the name of MISS OLIVE WADSLEY already. As I did not, I can only be glad that Reality has rectified the fault; I shall certainly not again forget a writer who has given me so much pleasure. The scene of the story is laid in Vienna, chiefly in musical Vienna, and the protagonists are the young widow, Irene van Cleve, and the violinist, Jean Victoire, whom she marries despite the well-founded objections of her noble family. Some of the family, too, are quite excellently drawn, notably a Cardinal, who, though he has little to do in the tale, manages to appear much more human and less of a draped waxwork than most Eminences of fiction. I have said that the objections of Irene's relations were justified, the fact being that Jean was not only a genius, but the most scatterbrained egoist and vulgarian. Naturally, therefore, the alliance turned out a failure; and the process is quite admirably portrayed. I liked least in the book the end, with its sudden revelation of a superfluous secret. Had the secret not been so superfluous it might have vexed me to have been so long kept in ignorance of it. But this is a small matter. The chief point is that Reality has the pulse of life in it—in a word that it confirms its title; which, indeed, is about the highest praise that a critic can bestow.
* * * * *
I am not at all sure how Mr. FRANK NORRIS, were he still living, would have regarded the resurrection of this early attempt at realism, as taught us by M. ZOLA—Vandover and the Brute (HEINEMANN). He would, I fancy, have softened some of the crudities and allowed a touch of humour to lighten the more solemn passages. There are pages here that remind one that Vandover's creator was also the author of those magnificent novels The Octopus and The Pit; but I cannot, in spite of them, place much confidence in the truth of Vandover's life history. We are told that he enjoyed his bath, and usually spent two or three hours over it. When the water was very warm he got into it with his novel on a rack in front of him and a box of chocolates conveniently near. Here he stayed for over an hour, eating and reading and occasionally smoking a cigarette. Can you wonder after this that poor Vandover went utterly to the bad, and is to be found on the last page doing some horrible work with a muck-rake whilst an innocent child points an obvious moral? So certain was Vandover's doom, once that box of chocolates had been mentioned, that I grew impatient and a little weary. If this is an age of realism in fiction I think that Vandover and the Brute should make plain to any reader why, very shortly, we are going to have an age of something else.
* * * * *
Do not allow yourself to be put off by the title of Captivating Mary Carstairs (CONSTABLE)—now published for the first time in England. It is not, as you might assume, a costume novel of eighteenth-century tushery. This is what I expected; but as a matter of fact Mr. HENRY SYDNOR HARRISON has written a tale about as unlike this as anything well could be. It is a capital tale, too; American to the last epithet, and crammed so full of the unexpected and adventurous that never (except once) can you anticipate for a moment what is going to happen. The chief adventure is abduction, the subject of it being Mary Carstairs, whose father was separated from her mother, and, being a lonely old man with a longing for a daughter's affection, took this melodramatic course to secure it. In furtherance of his end he secured the services of Maginnis, genial swashbuckler, and Varney, young, susceptible and heroic, and despatched them on his yacht to apprehend one whom they vaguely supposed to be "a little girl about twelve." This was the only time in which I scored over Mr. HARRISON. I was as certain, when I read thus far, that Mary Carstairs was no child, but a grown-up beauty, as I am now that I know the facts. Everywhere else the author had me beat. His capacity for complications seems inexhaustible. I knew that Varney was going to fall in love with Mary, but I did not know that he himself had a double who would cause endless and thrilling confusions; that Maginnis would become involved in local politics to the extent of endangering his life; and that even old Carstairs, Mary's father, would—but on second thoughts you had better share my unpreparedness about him. I should sum up the book as a tale with a "punch" in every chapter, some of them perhaps below the belt of probability, but all leaving one, as is the way with punches, breathlessly concerned.
* * * * *
Monsieur de Rochefort (HUTCHINSON) did not even take himself seriously; why then should I? To subject this airy romance, of Paris in 1770, to a minute criticism would be unnecessarily spoiling a good thing, and I shall not therefore ask myself whether prisons were so easily got out of or great statesmen so easily cajoled as Mr. H. DE VERE STACPOOLE for present purposes assumes. I shall not examine the historical accuracy of the portraits of the Duc de Choiseul or of the Comtesse Dubarry, nor shall I question the human probability of villains so inept as Camus or martinets so infallible and ruthless as de Sartines. The most exacting connoisseur of vintage ports will in his expansive moments admit the merits of a light wine from the wood, offered him as such in due season; even so the most fastidious novel-reader may in a holiday mood allow himself to be merely entertained and diverted by these lighthearted but breathless adventures in the Court of Louis XV. It is the greatest fun throughout; events are rapid and the dialogue is crisp; moreover there is from the beginning the comfortable certainty that, threaten what may, the unhappy end is impossible. If DE ROCHEFORT had failed to marry JAVOTTE, I think that Mr. DE VERE STACPOOLE would have incurred the unanimous displeasure of all his readers, including those who at any other time would have strongly protested against the marriage of so great a gentleman with so humble a lady's-maid in any circumstances, let alone upon so very brief an acquaintance.
* * * * *
Bridget Considine (BELL) is a pleasant story with something very agreeable in its quality, which however I find hard to define. Miss MARY CROSBIE has certainly a pretty gift for characterization, and this no doubt accounts for a good deal of the charm; the rest is largely a matter of atmosphere. The characters in the story whom you will most remember are Bridget herself and her father. The last especially is a continuous joy—a man who in his journey through life had taken instinctively the manner and aspect of a class to which he did not belong; a decayed gentleman without ever having been gentle except in mind; a needy adventurer without the spirit for adventure. Dragged up at the slip-shod heels of such a parent, supporting herself with romantic dreams when other nourishment failed, Bridget grew to young womanhood the very type, one would say, of the Cinderella to be rescued from poverty by a suitable Prince Charming. Thus when a combination of accidents thrusts her, as secretary-companion, into the society of Hugh Delmege, a budding politician, you will perhaps excusably plume yourself upon seeing the rest of the tale beforehand. If so, you will, as a matter of fact, be entirely wrong. Hugh and Bridget become engaged, certainly, but——. There is much virtue in that "but," the virtue of an unusual and convincing end to a story that has many charms, not the least of them being its humour. Yes, I certainly liked Bridget Considine well enough to wish for more from the same pen. Its motto, "Candidates for Humanity," is well chosen.
* * * * *
When Mr. WILLIAM SATCHELL, in a preface to The Greenstone Door (SIDGWICK AND JACKSON), remarks that some Maori words are used so frequently that he is "afraid the English reader will hardly be able to avoid acquiring a knowledge of their meaning," his alarm is quite unnecessary. Personally, at any rate, I am proud to know that papa-tea means an untattooed person, and waipiro an alcoholic beverage. But if Mr. SATCHELL had feared that the young man who tells the story might be found a little too self-complacent no protest would have been sounded by me. For Cedric Tregarthen, the grandson of an earl, and also "The Little Finger" of a Maori chief, was beyond my swallowing, though I endured him obstinately until he reported verbatim the opinion of his beloved's governess. "'Good-bye, Mr. Tregarthen,' she responded. 'Or, if you will allow me to say, "Good-bye, Cedric," it will better express my feelings. I used to hate boys, my dear; but I shall love them all for the sake of your gentleness and kindness. I am sure you will grow into a very noble man.'" Now, I ask you, ought not dear Cedric to have kept this to himself? Give me for choice the Maori boy, Rangiora, and the half-Maori girl, Puhi-Huia, humans fit to be loved and admired. The pity of it is immense, because Mr. SATCHELL has a knowledge of his subject that is beyond all praise, and the Maori part of his book is worth reading again and again. But the trouble remains that Cedric lived to tell the tale, while Rangiora died and had to have his tale told for him.
* * * * *
Illustration: The Ancient Mariner. "SEEN CHANGES? I SHOULD THINK I 'AVE, SIR. W'Y, WINKLETON USED TO BE THAT QUIET YOU COULD 'EAR A PIN DROP! BUT LOOK AT IT NOW. WHAT WITH THE PICTURE PALACE AND THE PIERROTS AND THEM SWING-BOATS AND THE PENNY BAZAAR, IT'S GOT TO BE A FAIR PANHARMONIUM!"
* * * * *
How they view things in Oregon.
Murderer uses ax to wipe out family of four."
The Morning Oregonian.
* * * * *