OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
NOVEMBER 4, 1914.
The Fremdenblatt of Hamburg congratulates itself that "the British campaign of pin-pricks is fast coming to a miserable end." If the reference is to bayonets, our contemporary is in error.
* * *
A Berlin news agency states that General LEMAN, of Liege, is actually a German. It is characteristic of the Germans to bring an accusation like that against a brave and innocent man in adversity.
* * *
The Koelnische Volkszeitung records the foundation of a "German Truth Society." We are glad that it is realised over there at last that there is a difference between Truth and German Truth.
* * *
It is semi-officially announced that the KAISER'S headquarters are now in France. His hindquarters were recently seen in Russia.
* * *
A detachment of British cavalry, while playing water polo in the Oise, suddenly spotted a patrol of German Uhlans, jumped on their horses naked, and in that state charged the enemy. We understand that a protest has been lodged at the War Office by the British Propriety League.
* * *
A motor wireless section in Scotland is searching for a mascot and regimental pet, and a Glasgow newspaper invites its readers to supply a suitable animal. What would be wrong with a wireless terrier?
* * *
Shortly before the outbreak of the war, it is said, the KAISER ordered a Gloucester spotted pig in this country. Later on the shipment of the pig was countermanded. Presumably sufficient pigs had already been spotted in the German army.
* * *
A pretty tribute to our ability to keep our hair on in a crisis was paid last week at the Bow County Court by an itinerant vendor of a hair restorer. He informed the Court that since the war there had been no demand for his goods.
* * *
A correspondent writes to The Times to object to the nickname "Tommies" applied to our soldiers. "Thomases" would undoubtedly be more respectful and dignified.
* * *
An original production of Everyman is to be given at the Cathedral Hall, Westminster, on the 12th, 13th and 14th instant, in aid of the Actors' Benevolent Fund. We trust that Everyman will do his duty and bring in a large sum for this admirable object.
* * *
The French authorities have seized ten race-horses stabled at St. Symphorien, near Tours, which belonged to M. MUMM, of the famous champagne firm, who is a German subject. Motto for those Germans who were captured speechless in the neighbourhood of Rheims:—"Mumm's the word!"
* * *
We note that there is a strong cast in The Glad Eye which has made its appearance again.
* * *
Which reminds us that they are calling a certain cheery correspondent on our Generalissimo's Staff "The Glad Eye Witness."
* * *
The latest news from South Africa would seem to show that Beyers are sometimes sold.
* * * * *
Illustration: "NOT BIG ENOUGH! D'YER KNOW 'OO I AM? D'YER KNOW FOIVE YEAR AGO I WAS CHAMPION LIGHT-WEIGHT OF WAPPING?"
"I'VE NO DOUBT YOU'RE A GOOD MAN; BUT, YOU SEE, YOU DON'T COME UP TO THE REQUIRED MEASUREMENTS, SO I'M AFRAID THAT'S THE END OF IT."
"OH, ALL RIGHT, THEN. ONLY, MIND YER, IF YER GO AN' LOSE THIS 'ERE WAR—WELL, DON'T BLAME ME—THAT'S ALL!"
* * * * *
THE FLASH-LIGHT THAT FAILED.
(Lines suggested by a recent incident on the Firth of Forth.)
There was a young alien in Fife Who on spying was keen as a knife, Till a sentry—good egg!— Plugged him bang through the leg And ruined his prospects for life.
* * * * *
"Along the coast the French Fleet are now aiding the British monitors, smashing the heavy buns rolled up to the coast by the Germans."
In the heavy bun department we fear no rivals, and the Germans will soon find that in more than one railway-station refreshment department they will meet their Waterloo.
* * * * *
TO A FALSE PATRIOT.
He came obedient to the Call; He might have shirked like half his mates Who, while their comrades fight and fall, Still go to swell the football gates.
And you, a patriot in your prime, You waved a flag above his head, And hoped he'd have a high old time, And slapped him on the back and said:
"You'll show 'em what we British are! Give us your hand, old pal, to shake;" And took him round from bar to bar And made him drunk—for England's sake.
That's how you helped him. Yesterday, Clear-eyed and earnest, keen and hard, He held himself the soldier's way— And now they've got him under guard.
That doesn't hurt you; you're all right; Your easy conscience takes no blame; But he, poor boy, with morning's light, He eats his heart out, sick with shame.
What's that to you? You understand Nothing of all his bitter pain; You have no regiment to brand; You have no uniform to stain;
No vow of service to abuse, No pledge to KING and country due; But he had something dear to lose, And he has lost it—thanks to you.
* * * * *
UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From Professor HERMANN MUeLLER, Ph.D., Private in the ——th Regiment of Prussian Infantry.)
YOUR MAJESTY,—I am one of your Majesty's most loyal and most faithfully devoted subjects, and, if I now write to you, it is not because I doubt for one moment that you are inspired in all your actions by a clearer wisdom and a firmer grasp of facts than any that I can pretend to, but because there are certain questions which obstinately press upon me to such an extent that I must relieve my mind of them.
At the beginning I was a firm believer in the necessity of this war, and in the perfect and not-to-be-shattered justice of our cause. I had read all that there was to read: TREITSCHKE, NIETZSCHE, BERNHARDI, FROBENIUS and a hundred others, from whose writings it can be most easily shown that Germany alone among nations has the power and the will to expand and to rule; that expansion and rule must be accomplished by war, which, far from being a misfortune, is a noble object to be aimed at and not avoided by statesmen; that all other nations are degenerate and must for their own good be crushed by Germany; and that any nation which resists Germany is through that very act an enemy of the human race. I also believed that German culture is something different from and superior to such culture (if it be worthy of the name) as is possessed by other countries. All these beliefs I set out in my booklet entitled, "Der Lorbeerkranz," which I humbly and with the most profound heart's devotion dedicated to your august and glorious Majesty. Did you, I wonder, deign to cast your Imperial eyes on this effort of my pen? How well I remember obtaining my first copy of the book on the happy day that saw its publication. It seemed printed in letters of gold, and, filled with high yearnings and expectations, I took it home to my beloved Anna. We read it aloud together, turn and turn about, with laughter and applause and tears, for we saw therein the foundation of fame.
So, at the war's beginning, I shouted with the rest for my KAISER and my country, knowing that the war was just and that we should end by annexing England's colonies, after destroying her armies and her ships, and those of France and Russia into the bargain.
Well, that is already, as it seems to me, a thousand years ago, and I must admit that at that time I did not consider it possible that I myself with all my weight of learning as well as my regulation knapsack should be marching about, or lying in a trench on the plains of Flanders, divided by a few hundred yards from English soldiers, who have in their hands rifles and bayonets, and know how to use them. In the intervals of firing, as we lie there, a man has time to think, and it is wonderful how clear his ideas become in such conditions. Some of us do not think or think only what they are told. Poor simple fellows, they still believe they are even now at the gates of Paris, and that to-morrow is the day appointed for the entrance; whereas I know that, having been close to Paris in a mad rush, our armies have since retreated day after day.
But all this happened before I myself had to join the fight with the older men. Now I know that the English and the French have much to say for themselves, and, in any case, that it is plain nonsense—I beg Your Majesty's pardon for using this word, but it is there and I will not strike it out—it is plain nonsense to believe that the good God who has made us all has had any interest in making our Germans out of better clay than that which He has used for other men. I cannot even make an exception in the case of your Imperial Majesty's own self. Thus do my thoughts run in the trenches during this dreadful battle. What things have I heard, what awful sights have I seen since I received my marching orders! I think of Anna and of little Karl, and hope only that some day I shall be far away from these scenes in a place where peace shall reign and I can see them both again. But when will this be?
With most humble respect,
* * * * *
"THE GREATER GAME."
This Cartoon, which deals with professional football and the War, and appeared in the issue of Punch for October 21, has now been reprinted in the form of Posters and Handbills. These will be gladly sent free of charge, for the purpose of distribution or exhibition, to anyone interested in recruiting among football players and the enormous crowds that attend League Matches. Applications, stating the number required, should be addressed to The Secretary, Punch Offices, 10, Bouverie Street, E.C., who will gratefully acknowledge any contributions towards the expense involved.
"The Greater Game" is also being reproduced in the form of a Lantern Slide for exhibition at Cinemas, etc.
* * * * *
"Plaintiff, Mr. W. E. Brown, trading as Bre-...oEwenforOD.tonthr.s)- cflandshrdlucmfwyptherton and Watt, auctioneers, of Winton, claimed a sum of L4 13s. 6d."—Bournemouth Echo.
In our "List of firms which must have a telegraphic address" Mr. BROWN takes a high place.
* * * * *
ZEPPELIN (as "The Fat Boy"). "'I WANTS TO MAKE YOUR FLESH CREEP.'"
JOHN BULL. "RIGHT-O!"
* * * * *
Illustration: Jim (just leaving for Egypt). "WELL, GOOD-BYE, MOTHER; TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I'LL BRING YOU A PYRAMID WHEN I COME BACK HOME."
Mother. "THA MUN DO NOWT O' T' SOORT, LAD. THA MUNNA GET THYSEN I' ANY TROUBLE FOR ME."
* * * * *
ANOTHER INNOCENT VICTIM OF THE WAR.
SIR,—Will you grant me the hospitality of your columns for the exposure of a grievance? The rest of the Press, which until recent mouths have welcomed my communications, seem to have become indifferent to matters affecting the health and comfort of the intellectual classes.
I am a professional man. For the past five-and-twenty years, with only one exception (the year following the Diamond Jubilee of the late QUEEN VICTORIA), I have fallen a victim during the first days of November to an attack of bronchial catarrh. In this distressing complaint, as you may be aware, an early symptom is a fit of sneezing, with other manifest discomfort which I need not here particularise.
For the past twenty-five years (with the one exception to which I have alluded) my first sneeze has been the signal for alarm among the women-folk of my household. My elder sister goes quietly upstairs for the bottle of ammoniated quinine; my younger sister explores the recesses of a cupboard for the piece of red flannel to which I have been accustomed; and Emily, the maid, without being instructed, puts the kettle on the gas-stove. Any lady visitor there may be in the house is ready with suggestions of alternative remedies, recalling numerous interesting and instructive examples. Light and nourishing dishes are prepared for my dinner; a hot-water bottle is placed in my bed; and in the bedroom a fire is lit. I retire to rest at 9.30, and, having disrobed and covered myself with an augmented supply of blankets, I am brought a glass of hot milk by one of my sisters, who gently places my dressing-gown round my shoulders while I drink it. Afterwards I lie down to sleep, with the bell-push within reach. A tap at the door wakes me next morning. "May I bring in a cup of tea, dear Septimus?" asks my other sister. I am implored to remain in bed for the day, and swift arrangements are made with the butcher, when he calls, to telephone a message to the office. Emily refrains from singing while washing up, and wears felt slippers during her duties about the house.
Such, Sir, has been the routine attending this practically annual event for the past five-and-twenty years. But I regret to inform you that a secret and sinister change has been at work in our domestic relations. The first sneeze of this year's attack took place last evening. My once attentive sisters, immersed in wool and flannel of all shades, took no notice; Miss Annistay, an old family friend, alone remarked upon my condition, stating that colds were very prevalent, and adding somewhat irrelevantly that it must be terrible in the trenches this weather. For dinner I had nothing more sustaining than our customary fare, and when I asked for hot milk at bedtime my sisters inquired, "Whatever for, Septimus?" I sought my chamber, only to find, on enquiry, that my dressing-gown, my extra blankets and my hot-water bottle had disappeared—gone, I understand, to a local hospital. And, far from remaining in bed to-day, I am writing this from my office, an exceedingly draughty apartment.
Yours cordially, SEPTIMUS CODDELL.
P.S.—Of course I thoroughly approve of the idea that we must all make sacrifices in time of war; but, as I tell my household, these sacrifices should be personal and not vicarious.
* * * * *
We feel just a little hurt that the police have not prohibited our village bonfire. Why shouldn't Zeppelins come to Little Pilswick? Why should an arrogant metropolis monopolise everything? Still we hid our mortification and the Guy Committee met as usual in the saloon bar of the "Bull".
In the first instance Prodgers moved that the celebration be dropped, and that all material already collected be given to the Belgian refugees. It was pointed out to him that a gift of two empty tar-barrels and half-a-dozen furze bushes, though meant in all kindness, might prove embarrassing to any relief committee. Besides, we are happy in the entertainment of two Belgian families, and the feeling was that the sight of an uncultured fire would cheer them. So Prodgers was temporarily crushed. Then came the all-important question of the guy.
Mr. Flodden, the landlord, began the discussion. "Last year we'd LLOYD GEORGE, but we can't have no politics now, though he's—well, I wish I could tell him what he is. Year before we'd the Squire for stopping up that footpath, but he's in the Yeomanry now, so he's barred."
"The KAISER!" cried Jenkins. "Have him with mailed fists holding up a torn scrap of paper."
"No, the CROWN PRINCE," suggested Webb. "Everyone would know him if we put a silver spoon in each hand and hung a silver coffee-pot round his neck."
"DE WET," proposed Cobb.
"Had him twelve year or more ago," said the landlord. "DE WET'S off."
A fierce controversy now ensued between partisans of the KAISER and the CROWN PRINCE. Prodgers argued ably that it was much worse to destroy a cathedral than to steal plate; whilst Unwin, the jobbing builder, declared that the damaging of a cathedral gave work to a very deserving class of men, and said he would very much rather see the parish church-tower knocked down than the Vicar's spoons stolen. At last feeling ran so high it was decided to put the matter to the vote. Five voted for the light-headed KAISER, five for his light-fingered heir. All eyes turned on the landlord to see which way his casting vote would go.
"Friends all," said. Mr. Flodden, "we've kep' ourselves respectable in this village. Even our guys have been respectable, though, mind you, that LLOYD GEORGE—well, if it wasn't wartime, I'd say he come precious near the line. Now what's the good of us letting ourselves down to burn these 'Uns? What about old GUY FAWKES? I grant you he wanted to blow up the 'Ouses of Parliament; but, if there was licensing bills in those days, I don't blame him. I say stick to old GUY and be respectable."
It was carried unanimously.
Somewhere in his rush from theatre to theatre of the war a message will reach the KAISER. The hatred of a world may flatter him, but the cold, chilling contempt of Little Pilswick will pierce to his very heart.
* * * * *
Illustration: OBVIOUS EMBARRASSMENT OF LITTLE BINKS, WHO HAS INJURED HIS HAND IN THE PEACEFUL OCCUPATION OF PICTURE-HANGING, AT BEING MISTAKEN FOR A WOUNDED HERO.
* * * * *
THE REPORT FALLACIOUS.
I have a son, William. But there are compensations; he is at school.
It was at the crisis of parting at the station that it seemed to me necessary to give William a word of parental advice. I hate seeing small boys at such moments stuffing themselves in refreshment-rooms.
"William," I said, "life is not all cricket and football."
"No, father" replied William, looking hard at the refreshment-room, "there's golf."
"That, William, is scarcely a game. I should describe it in my own case as an exercise taken under medical advice, to obtain relief from business strain."
"Father," burst out William, "there's Cheffins minor in the refreshment-room."
"William," I proceeded, "at the end of each term I receive an unsatisfactory report about you from your house-master. It is only then that I know you have wasted three months of golden time." ("Golden time" was a happy inspiration.)
"Old Starks is a rotter," said William briefly.
"Now I put you on your honour, William, to send me a truthful report of your progress at the half-term. Then if you are not doing well I can write and ask that you should have special attention. On your honour, mind."
"Yes, father. Shall we go across to the refreshment-room now?"
"Ah, yes, certainly," I said, noticing a signal drop. "Oh, no; here's your train coming in."
Then having done my duty I forgot all about the promised report. It arrived unexpectedly this morning. He had framed it precisely on the model of his house-master's reports:—
Position in Form. First.
Progress. Very marked; decidedly more attentive and industrious.
Latin. A distinct improvement in versification. Translates easily and intelligently.
Greek. Displays remarkable promise.
("Of course it won't be much use to him in my leather business," I said to my wife; "still it shows grit.")
Mathematics. Again marked progress is to be recorded.
Conduct. Courteous, orderly, obedient. A good influence in the house.
General Remarks. Will achieve a high position in the school, but must take care that too close absorption in study does not interfere with his athletic development.
"Most gratifying," I said to my wife. "I just put the boy on his honour. I don't believe in lecturing boys. Ah, what's this at the bottom?"
I read with horror the foot-note, "Per Wireless from Berlin."
I am a parent, so I instructed my wife to write a letter saying how much I was pained by William's frivolity. I am a patriot, so, without her knowledge, I slipped a postal order for ten shillings into the envelope.
* * * * *
We hear there is no truth in the report that Mr. JAMES WELCH intends renaming his successful farce (now moved to the New Theatre) "When Nights Were Dark."
* * * * *
Visitor (leaving inn after sleepless night). "I SUPPOSE YOU DON'T HAPPEN TO BE A GERMAN?"
Landlord. "DO I LOOK LIKE IT?"
Visitor. "NO; BUT I THOUGHT I'D JUST ASK BECAUSE MY ROOM LAST NIGHT HAD A CONCRETE BED IN IT."
* * * * *
THE GREAT PETARD.
(Being some further reliable information about the enormous siege gun which is to shell us from Calais.)
This is the tale of the Master Hun And how, on thinking it over, He bade his henchmen build him a gun With a belly as huge as the Heidelberg Tun To batter the cliffs of Dover.
See how the Uhlans' lances toss! As a mother her child they love it; Guarding it well from scathe and loss They have stamped its side with a big Red Cross, And the white flag waves above it.
First it was cast in Essen town; Junkers in gay apparel Flocked to sample its high renown, And a dozen or more, they say, sat down To dinner inside its barrel.
Fair and free did the Rhine wine flow Till the face of every glutton Shone with a patriot's after-glow, And then they retired a mile or so And the WAR LORD pressed the button.
Hoch! The howitzer stood the test, Belching like fifty craters, And (this is perhaps the cream of the jest) There was more than metal inside its chest, For they hadn't removed the waiters.
Now it has come on armoured trains To the further side of the Channel; Prayers are said in a hundred fanes For its godlike soul, and whenever it rains They muffle its throat with flannel.
Strange indeed is the cry of its shells, Like a pack of hounds in full wail, Like the roar of a mountain stream that swells Or like anything else from a peal of bells To the bark of a wounded bull-whale.
But the worst of it is that when—and if— It begins its work of slaughter It will possibly harm the Kentish cliff, But it's perfectly certain to go and biff The French one into the water.
So when you shall hear a noise on high Like the medium brush of a barber, And a monstrous bullet falls from the sky And blows off the head of a Prussian spy As he dallies in Dover Harbour,
You shall know that at last the WAR LORD'S host, By dint of a stout endeavour, Have chipped off a bit of the Calais coast And caused the isle that they pant for most To be further away than ever.
* * * * *
THE PEACE CIGAR.
"By the way, Lorna was there this morning," said Celia. "Her brother's in the War Office."
"And what did KITCHENER tell him when they last had lunch together?" I asked.
"Well," smiled Celia, "he does say that——"
I get all my best news from Celia nowadays. When I meet you in the City and mention that I know for a fact that the KAISER is in hiding at Liverpool, you may be sure that Celia saw Vera yesterday morning, and that Vera's uncle is somebody important on the Liverpool Defence Committee.
Twice a week Celia ties up parcels for the Fleet. Ordinary people provide the blankets, sea-boots, chocolate, periscopes and so forth; Celia looks after the brown paper and string, which always seems to me the most tricky part. There are a dozen of them, all working together; and you can imagine (or, anyhow, I can) Vera or Kitty or Isobel, her mouth full of knot, gossiping away about her highly-placed relations, while Beryl or Evelyn or Lorna looks up from the parcel she is kneeling on and interrupts, "Well, my brother heard——I say, where did you put my scissors?"
"Well," smiled Celia, "Lorna's brother in the War Office says the war will be over by Christmas."
"Hooray," I said; and I went out and looked at my cigar.
This cigar arrived at my house in a case of samples last July. The samples went up from right to left in order of importance, each in his own little bed—until you got to Torpedo Jimmy at the end, who had a double bed to himself. Starting with Cabajo fino in the right-hand corner, the prices ranged from about nine a penny to five pounds apiece, the latter being the approximate charge for T. James or any of his brethren.
Celia was looking over my shoulder when I opened the case, and she surveyed my brown friends with interest.
"When are you going to smoke that one?" she asked, touching Torpedo Jimmy's cummerbund with the tip of her finger.
"On your birthday," I said.
"Bother, then I shan't see much of you. Couldn't you smoke it on two ordinary days instead?"
"You can only smoke a cigar that size after a very good dinner," I explained.
"What was the matter with the tapioca pudding last night?" said Celia sternly.
"I mean you must have champagne and bands and lots of lights, and managers bowing all round you, and pretty people in the distance, and—all that sort of thing. You can't do that at home. Besides, I shall want a waiter or two to hold the far end of it while I'm smoking. It'll be all right going there; we can put it on the top of a cab."
"Of course it will be lovely going out with you," said Celia, "but Jane will be very disappointed. She'd have liked to hear it buzzing."
"I hope it won't buzz," I said.
"Couldn't you smoke it now, and then we'd go out next week and celebrate your recovery." She sighed. "My birthday's a long way off," she said wistfully, thinking of the band and the lights and the pretty people in the distance—and not necessarily in the distance either.
"Well, p'raps we'll think of another excuse. Anyhow it will be a very great day, and if I survive we shall often look back upon it."
Celia stroked it again.
"It's just like a torpedo, isn't it?" she said. And so we called it Torpedo Jimmy. A torpedo is actually a little bit bigger. Not much, however.
That was July. When August came we knew that there would be no excuse before the birthday and that the birthday would be no excuse. The great dinner was postponed. It didn't matter, because we forgot about the great dinner.
But towards the end of September Celia came across the sample case again. All the beds were empty now but one. Torpedo James still lay in his four-poster, brown and inscrutable.
"Better put him away," she said, "and on the day that peace is signed you can take us both out."
And so Torpedo Jimmy became a symbol. The more I long for peace, the more I long for that historic smoke. When Louisa's brother or Nora's uncle has a long pessimistic talk with KITCHENER, then I look sadly at my cigar; but when FRENCH and JOFFRE unbend to Vera's stepfather or Beryl's cousin and give him words of cheer, then I take it out and pinch it fondly, and already I see the waiter coming round with a torch to light it.
I have been looking at it to-day, and I see that it is giving a little at one end. I fancy that the moth has been getting at it. Well, if it does not last till peace is signed, it will be a peace that I shall not believe in. For a stable peace, as all our eminent novelists keep pointing out in all the papers, many things are necessary, and one of them is that I should smoke my cigar happily on the first night of it. Torpedo Jimmy must do himself justice. No premature explosions; no moths flying out from the middle of it; no unauthorised ventilation. The exact moment must be chosen by the Allies. My cigar must be ripe ... and yet not too ripe.
Celia says she is sure it will be just lovely. So sure is she that she suggests hanging the cigar in the hall and tapping it to see how the war is going. "When it taps exactly right, then we shall know the war is just over."
But I think we shall know that anyhow. EDWARD GREY will break it to Beryl's nephew all right; Celia will climb down off her parcel and rush home to me with the news; I shall ring up the restaurant and order dinner ... and at eight o'clock, in great spirits, we shall get into our taxi and drive off together—Celia and I and Torpedo Jimmy.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
(An essay in the prevailing mode).
The actual cost of hostilities has been estimated by reliable authorities at the enormous sum of L143,468 0s. 0-1/2d. per diem for this country alone. The odd halfpenny presumably represents the cost of an evening edition bought by the official contradictor in the exercise of his duties.
* * *
Amongst the (more or less) skilled industries that have been gravely affected by the outbreak of hostilities must now be placed the making of prophetic fiction. It is calculated that the number of novels dealing with The Next Great War that have had to be scrapped must run well into four figures.
* * *
On the other hand, the number of novelists who will in the future begin their Historical Romances, "It was in the late summer of 1914," is beyond human calculation.
* * *
In view of the reported insurance of Westminster Abbey against damage by air-craft, a correspondent asks what steps are being taken towards the illumination of the Albert Memorial.
* * *
It is at least odd that Olympia should have been selected as the Ideal Home for our Undesirable Aliens. The last German production in the same building was The Miracle. Many of the interned are said to be expecting another.
* * * * *
"Mrs. Mallaby Deeley is doing good work in securing withers for horses."
And now every horse which goes to the Front can be certain of having its own withers.
* * * * *
Illustration: First Lady (horrified at bright scarlet muffler for Navy, the creation of second lady). "MY DEAR—THE COLOUR! IT'LL MAKE A TARGET FOR THE GERMANS!"
Second Lady. "OH! THEN IT'LL HAVE TO DO FOR THE STOKER."
* * * * *
THE LADY'S WALK.
I know a Manor by the Thames; I've seen it oft through beechen stems In leafy Summer weather; We've moored the punt its lawns beside Where peacocks strut in flaunting pride, The Muse and I together.
There I have seen the shadows grow Gigantic, as the sun sinks low, Leaving forlorn the dial; When zephyrs in the borders stir, Distilling stock and lavender To fill some fairy's phial.
There, when the dusk joins hands with night, (I like to think the story's right— I had it from the Rector— Still, don't believe unless you choose!) Doth walk, between the shapen yews, A little pretty spectre,
The Lady Rose, a well-born maid Whose true-love in this garden glade— A bold, if faithless, fellow— Had loved, but left her for the sake Of venturing with FRANKIE DRAKE, And died at Puerto Bello;
While she—poor foolish loving Rose— Of heart-break, so the story goes, Died very shortly after, One day—as Art requires—when Spring Had set the hawthorns blossoming And waked the lanes to laughter.
And so adown these alleys dim, Where oft she'd kept a tryst with him, She nightly comes a-roaming; And, sorrowing still, yet finds content, I fancy, where "Sweet Themmes" is blent With flower-beds and the gloaming.
Ah me, the leaf is down to-day; Does still the little phantom stray, Poor pretty ghost, a-shiver, When sad flowers droop their weary heads Along the chill Autumnal beds Beside the misty river?
Or does it, at the year's decline— As sensible as Proserpine— When Autumn skies do harden, Go down and coax the seeds to grow Till daffodillies stand a-row And April's in the garden?
I cannot tell; what's more, I doubt We've other things to think about This sorrowful November; I only know for such sad hours That dainty ghosts and Summer flowers Are pleasant to remember.
* * * * *
The Absolute Limit.
"The directors of the Bradford Club have reviewed the position in regard to the free admission of soldiers to the ground, the number of men thus admitted having been far greater than was anticipated. It has now been decided that men in uniform or bearing other credentials of service shall be admitted to section E on payment of the nominal sum of 3d. This will prevent the jostling of the ordinary patrons."—Bradford Daily Telegraph.
A cruiser here and there may be sunk, a regiment here and there may be cut up, but thank God our Bradford football patrons will never again be jostled by any of these vulgar soldiers in uniform.
* * * * *
Notice in a Battersea window:—
"BRIDE CAKES ANY SIZE TO SUIT ALL POCKETS."
In these days of narrow skirts most women will find the guinea size sufficient.
* * * * *
Illustration: FACTS FROM THE FRONT.
TACTICAL USE, BY THE ENEMY, OF THE MORE RESILIENT UNITS OF THE LANDSTURM FOR NEGOTIATING BELGIAN DYKES.
* * * * *
OUR LITERARY WAR LORDS.
["The other day the enemy's artillery fire on my battery was so great that we were forced to take cover. I sat crouched in my 'funk-hole' for seventeen solid hours. Luckily I had Jacobs's 'Sea Urchins' with me, which I read to the accompaniment of screaming and bursting shells."
Officer in the Royal Field Artillery.]
Mr. Punch, while remarking that he is not surprised that the shells screamed in the circumstances, begs to assure his readers that, if the following information corresponds with the facts, Mr. Jacobs is not the only author who has been solacing our troops in the trenches.
Miss Carrie Morelli writes: "There has so far been no public mention of any books of mine being read in the trenches and affording solace to our gallant troops. This, however, is because all the reports from the Front come from men, and men are notoriously jealous of feminine activity in literature as elsewhere. I have no doubt in my own mind that many a soldier in action has been cheered by hurried glances at my novels, a list of which can be forwarded on application."
An unsigned letter from the Isle of Man states that the writer, who rightly wishes to remain anonymous, possesses a copy of a novel of astonishing genius, in which a German bullet is embedded. This book, it seems, was the inseparable companion of a soldier in the 3rd Manx Highlanders, who carried it always next his heart, and in its position in that intimate and honoured spot it saved his life. The writer, who confesses to being the author of the novel in question, states that he would divulge both his own name and that of the title of the book but that his objection to publicity amounts to a mania.
The publishers of The Orangery, by Mrs. Markley, write to inform us of an astounding incident which throws a new and sensational light on the campaign in the Western Theatre of War. It appears that at a critical moment during the great effort of the Germans to break through the left flank of the Allies, General VON KLUCK absolutely refused to see or consult with his Staff for the space of three hours. It subsequently transpired that a copy of The Orangery, which had been found in the knapsack of a British prisoner, had come into the General's possession and so absolutely enthralled him that he abandoned all thought of strategy or tactics until he had finished its perusal. Owing to the extraordinary power of Mrs. Markley's genius the German advance was paralysed, and the Allies, resuming the offensive, drove the enemy back in confusion, with results which have vitally affected the progress of the campaign.
Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT has just received a remarkable letter from a British marine who was recently landed on the coast of Flanders. The writer describes how, as he was reading one of Mr. BENNETT'S recent articles on the war in a carefully excavated trench, a "Jack Johnson" shell descended directly over him, but was suddenly diverted by the article, and soared away at right angles, bursting with a terrific chuckle at a safe distance.
* * * * *
Latest War News.
Turkey has now joined the "Sossidges"—a trifle earlier in the year than usual.
* * * * *
We understand that Pietermaritzburg will shortly change its name to Petrobothagrad.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE EXCURSIONIST.
Scene: TICKET OFFICE AT —— (censored).
TRIPPER WILHELM. "FIRST CLASS TO PARIS." CLERK. "LINE BLOCKED."
WILHELM. "THEN MAKE IT WARSAW." CLERK. "LINE BLOCKED."
WILHELM. "WELL, WHAT ABOUT CALAIS?" CLERK. "LINE BLOCKED."
WILHELM. "HANG IT! I MUST GO SOMEWHERE! I PROMISED MY PEOPLE I WOULD."
* * * * *
BRITAIN TO BELGIUM.
Sister, for the tears that thou hast shed, Sister, for thy dear undying dead, For the sons thou hast not grudged to give, Loyally, that Liberty might live; Sister, for the little child Dead beside a hearth defiled— Do I dream my love alone Can atone?
Can I bring again the brave that fell When thy heaven crumbled into hell? Can I banish from before thine eyes Haunting visions under haggard skies? Blazing home and blackened plain, Can I make them fair again? Can I ever heal thy smart, Broken Heart?
Sister, we be women, thou and I; Sorrow's craving who can satisfy? None may pay thee back so dear a loss, Only let me help to bear thy cross. Sick and hungry in their need Let me succour, let me feed; Little Sister, freely take For their sake.
* * * * *
Illustration: "'HE'S AS WILLING AS A CHRISTIAN; STRIKE ME BLIND IF HE ISN'T', SAID SIKES."
Oliver Twist, Chap. xvi.
(With apologies to the late Fred Barnard.)
* * * * *
AS OTHERS WISH TO SEE US.
The ingenious German device of writing private letters to English friends filled with German justifications of the War and news of the gaiety and normal prosperity of Berlin is now being carried farther, and extracts from private letters purporting to be addressed by English people to German friends have begun to be printed in the Berlin papers. Here follows an illustration of this type of composition:—
My dear friend,—I am sure you will like to hear from me, especially as I am in a position to enlighten you as to the deplorable condition of things in England under the fear of the Mailed Fist and forebodings of the worst. For it is only too true that all the best and most knowledgable people here have thrown up the sponge and are prepared for the inevitable.
A private letter is probably the only means of communicating the real situation to you, for the English papers of course do not tell the truth. In fact you must believe nothing they say, for there is a great conspiracy here to maintain the fiction that we are high-spirited, eager and confident. Everything is done to foster that illusion.
BERNHARDI'S great book has been translated and is being largely sold, and it is awful to watch the faces of the people reading it—how they blanch and quiver. It is curious, you might think, that they read it at all; but you know the dread fascination of the snake for the humming-bird. The bird sees its doom, but cannot escape, and in fact draws nearer.
Would you believe it of this nation, so famous for its phlegm, that at the outset of the war there was such a panic among our intellectuals that they could not write prose at all, but all the papers were full of rhyme? As you know, there is no sign of hysteria more trustworthy than this.
You may have heard that recruiting has been brisk and keen, but do not believe this. Only by huge bribes have men been induced to join at all. The finances of the country are being taxed to the utmost to find the extra "palm-oil" which these mercenaries demand.
The Birmingham factories are feverishly busy making dum-dum and explosive bullets.
You may have gathered from the papers that football goes on as usual. This is so, outwardly, but as a matter of fact the games are played with no spirit and are kept going wholly by force applied by the Government, whose aim is thus to suggest a feeling of security in the country. A few misguided people, who completely misunderstand the situation, hold that footballers should go to the Front and fight; but the Government take a more prudent view and will not allow this, holding that their agility on the field in League Matches and so forth is of high service as an anodyne and distraction. I have heard of more than one case of a well-known herculean player, accustomed not only to big money but applause and hero-worship, seriously wondering if fighting were not his real duty and if he ought not to make a bolt for the Front, but being compelled to acquiesce in the Government's plans and go on drawing his salary for the public pursuit of an air-bladder. This shows you to what a pass things have come.
There are also hundreds of young actors in London alone who are being forcibly kept in the country to go on entertaining and playing the fool for the same sedative purpose. These youths are all healthy and fit, but it is held that their true function is to work in the theatres and halls to beguile the audiences and divert their thoughts from the terrible reality of German invasion. With each step that the Germans draw nearer the mummers redouble their efforts to excite laughter. Thus did NERO fiddle.
The terror produced by your nerve-racking Zeppelins is constant. Hardly a soul is now to be seen in the streets of London. Everyone is below the earth, in the Tubes and subways, which are packed by white and trembling crowds. Every cellar is congested, the top floors having been wholly abandoned. As a sign of the times I may tell you that a Company, called the Aerated Dread Co., has been formed to provide iron suits for those who can afford them, and on the Board of Directors are both the PRIME MINISTER and Sir EDWARD GREY. So awful is the agitation from which everyone here is suffering under the Zeppelin menace that the noise of a tyre bursting in the street often prostrates as many as forty passers-by.
No more to-day, my friend. I will write again soon and add to the melancholy picture of a once powerful nation shuddering with craven fears.
Give my love to your dear children.
Your devoted K—— L——.
* * * * *
"On the sea dyke the Germans have posted heavy artillery.... They have also posted gunes in the dunes."—South Wales Echo.
This settles us. We shall now begin our War Poem.
* * * * *
Illustration: FROM THE RECRUIT'S POINT OF VIEW.
Sergeant. "FORM FOURS!" "AS YOU WERE! FORM FOURS!!" "As you were!! FORM FOURS!!!" "***!!! *****!!!!"
* * * * *
[Encouraged by the example of some eminent followers of TYRTAEUS, Mr. Punch has great pleasure in printing the following topical soldiers' song, composed by one of his young men after reading about a British force that seized Archibong in the Cameroons.]
O we're marching on to good old Archibong; And we're going most particularly strong; For our beef is really "bully," And they feed us very fully— Yes, the feeding's fit for any restaurong, Tres bong, Fit for any fust-class London restaurong.
What's the matter with the road to Archibong? We didn't come out here to play ping-pong Or to get up a gymkhana— But we'll all have a banana When we've driven back the Proosians to Hong Kong, Ding-dong, When we've driven back the Proosians to Hong Kong.
What's the matter with the town of Archibong? It isn't quite as lively as Boulong; But the name is very tuneful— Yes, I'll have another spoonful, For I never liked my soda-water strong; It's wrong For a man to drink his soda-water strong.
Then here's a parting cheer to Archibong, Where the natives play divinely on the gong; It's not so cool and airy As the town of Tipperary, But it's just as good for tittuping along In a song, It's just as good for tittuping along.
* * * * *
From Battalion Orders of a certain regiment:—
"The Brigadier-General regrets that the 5th are noticeable throughout the brigade for the long, slovenly and unkempt condition of men's hair. The Commanding Officer considers that this reflects on the credit of the battalion and directs Company Commanders to take immediate steps to have this slight removed for good and all."
* * * * *
WHAT'S IN A HYPHEN?
From a cinema advertisement:—
"THE TWO-STEP CHILDREN (DRAMA)."
It sounds rather more like Musical Comedy.
* * * * *
"Between them the vessels of the Allies succeeded in destroying a German battery of field artillery, dispersed a German bridging train collected to force the passage of the Yser, blew up an ammunition column, killed General von Tripp, expressed pleasure at the Russians winning in Galicia, and even regarded it as compensation for his wound."—Aberdeen Free Press.
Is there anything the Fleet can't do?
* * * * *
LITTLE AND GOOD.
Young Thompson was a bit too short, But hard as nails and level-headed, And in his soul the proper sort Of dogged pluck was deeply bedded; To join the ranks he almost ran, But saw the weedy supersede him; Though he was every inch a man, His country didn't need him.
He read each passionate appeal On wall and window, cab and cart; How impotent they made him feel! He tried once more, though sick at heart. In vain! He saw the sergeants smirk; He argued, but they wouldn't heed him; So sullenly trudged back to work— His country didn't need him.
But, now the standard height's curtailed, Again he goes to join the ranks; Though yesterday he tried and failed To-day they welcome him with thanks. Apparently he's just as small, But, since his size no more impedes him, In spirit he is six foot tall— Because his country needs him.
* * * * *
Illustration: T. B. D.
Officer's Steward. "WILL YOU TAKE YOUR BATH, SIR, BEFORE OR AFTER HACTION?"
* * * * *
THE MYSTERY OF PRINCE ——.
We seek information of the present whereabouts of Prince —— of ——.
Some few weeks ago the news came that he was carried wounded into a Brussels hospital, with a velvet mask over his face, so that none might recognise him. The PRINCE was visited in hospital by a tall man, also heavily masked, but not so heavily as to conceal a pair of soaring moustaches, freshly waxed. None dared speculate as to Who this Visitor might be. The hush was tremendous. The Visitor silently pinned on the patient a specimen of the Iron Cross and as silently left.
It was the 37000th Iron Cross bestowed since the outbreak of war.
At the autopsy it was proved conclusively that the bullet inside the PRINCE was of German origin.
After the post-mortem the PRINCE was luckily captured by the Belgians, and held at Antwerp as hostage for the good behaviour of the German troops occupying Brussels.
When the fall of Antwerp became imminent the PRINCE was secretly removed to England. A fortnight ago he was seen in a motor-car driving round Battersea Park, accompanied and guarded by an English officer.
The PRINCE wore his saxe-blue full-dress tunic, his corn-gold moustache and his rather stout face, and was looking considerably depressed.
Since that date no word has come of him. The Censor seems to have rigidly suppressed all evidence of his movements.
Is the PRINCE kept prisoner on a trawler sweeping the North Sea for mines? Has he escaped in the German submarine which ventured up the Thames as far as the lower end of Fleet Street? Or is he interned in the searchlight apparatus at Charing Cross to insure it against attack by Zeppelins?
We seek exact information.
* * * * *
"As regards the quality of this beverage, he said he was at a loss to know on what grounds they called it coffee."—Daily Mail.
Coffee grounds, no doubt.
* * * * *
"There comes a time when no responsible organ of public opinion can keep silence without sacrificing the tacit obligation under which it lies to its readers."—The Globe.
We are glad to note that in the same article there is a subsequent and reassuring reference to our contemporary's "well-deserved reputation for straightforwardness and accuracy."
* * * * *
The author of Secrets of the German War Office writes of the German FOREIGN MINISTER'S "atrocious taste in waistcoats":—
"The one he had on still sticks in my memory. It was a lurid peach-blossom creation, spotted with greed."
It is to guard against this that so many of his compatriots tuck their napkins in at their necks.
* * * * *
AN ESCAPED PRISONER.
It was summertime, years ago, in the early days of the war.
Having distributed myself quite satisfactorily within a hammock, I had just decided that nothing short of invasion or the luncheon bell should disturb me, when my flapper niece shot forth in my direction from the French windows of the morning-room.
In one hand she flourished an empty birdcage and in the other what proved to be a tin of enormous hemp seeds.
"Wake up!" she cried as she approached rapidly through the near distance. "The precious Balaam has escaped! The brute must have got out while I was fetching his clean water, and the windows were wide open!"
The prospect of a canary hunt across country with a temperature at 80 degrees in the shade positively made me shiver.
"Your father is the man to catch it for you, Eileen," I suggested. "He's most awfully good at catching things. I—er think he's somewhere on the tennis-court."
"He's not, because he was splashing about in the bathroom just now when I wanted to fill Balaam's water-bottle."
"All right," I said resignedly, "I'll come. Was Balaam the man or the ass? I forget. And while we're at it why should you call the bird Balaam at all?"
Eileen was in no mood for foolish questionings.
"Get up!" she ordered. "I call him Balaam because he's not a proper canary—he's a mule."
"Then I am not at all sure," I began hopefully, "that I can countenance the keeping of mules in birdcages! Should the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals get to hear of it, they would certainly——"
"There he is!" interrupted Eileen shrilly as something yellowish flew jerkily across a neighbouring cabbage bed. "That's Balaam! Take the cage. I'll wait here in case he comes back!"
By the time I had reached the further end of the cabbage bed I was just in time to see a tawny bird vanish over a hedge, flop tantalisingly across the road and disappear among the branches of an apple-tree on the other side.
What I now see to have been a mistaken idea of my duty towards Eileen led me painfully through two hedges to the foot of the tree in whose branches Balaam the Mule was possibly enjoying the first-fruits of his liberty.
In vain I produced vocal effects calculated to charm away the love of travel from the breast of any canary; then, as Balaam persistently refused to come to me, I proceeded slowly but surely, and accompanied by the cage, to make my way to him.
Whether tree-climbing shares the same age limit as that assigned to recruits, or whether the cage was too severe a handicap, I don't know, but halfway up I somehow found myself marooned on an obviously inadequate branch.
For several minutes I balanced uncertainly. Then someone began to pass along the road beyond the hedge. As it seemed probable that their owner might prove of use to me, I hailed the footsteps with a shout.
The footsteps stopped and I shouted again.
This time there was a faint scream in answer and a mauve-and-white bonnet bobbed agitatedly up the road.
After a few more minutes of delicate and masterly balancing I was relieved to hear the approach of quite a number of people from the other side of the orchard.
Evidently the mauve-and-white bonnet had thoroughly realized my perilous position, for my rescuers seemed to include almost the entire village. Even the Vicar was there, armed with an assegai—no doubt a missionary trophy. It was thoughtful of them to have turned out in such numbers to rescue a mere visitor, but still one ploughman with a ladder would have been ample.
Soon words floated up to me from the mouth of the leading rescuer. "I'll learn him!" he was saying with fervour. "I'll learn him to come German-spying round my orchard!"
Balaam or no Balaam, I drew the line at being assegaied to death as a Teuton spy, so I dropped the cage with a bang and, clinging to the end of my branch, I at last succeeded in gaining the ground in moderate safety.
When I had finished explaining about Balaam, they were convinced, though evidently disappointed.
"You see," explained the Vicar, prodding the apple-tree regretfully with his assegai, "poor Miss Tittlepatter said that she had been attacked by German spies from this very orchard."
At the third prod of the Vicar's assegai, a brown-and-yellow bird flew self-consciously from the top of the apple-tree and perched in full view on a five-barred gate.
"There he is!" I hissed, moving stealthily forward with the remains of the birdcage. "There's Balaam the canary!"
"Kenary!" contemptuously remarked the rescuer who had been so anxious to undertake the education of Teutonic spies. "That ain't no kenary; that's a bloomin' yellow'ammer!"
* * *
When, a dishevelled wreck, I reached my own gateway, I was met in the drive by Eileen.
"It's all right after all," she remarked cheerfully. "The stupid bird was on the curtain pole all the time. So lucky, because, if he had got out, it would have meant an awful bother. And, I say, is it true that they've caught a German spy down in the village?"
* * * * *
Illustration: Salesman. "NO, SIR, NEITHER OF THESE MASKS WAS MADE IN GERMANY."
* * * * *
In aid of the Arts Fund for the relief of the many members of the artistic professions who are in distress owing to the War, a Matinee under the patronage of QUEEN ALEXANDRA will be given at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 3 o'clock. Mr. THOMAS BEECHAM will produce Bach's Phoebus and Pan, and Mr. GRANVILLE BARKER will produce Philip the King, a new play by Mr. JOHN MASEFIELD. Mr. Punch very heartily commends the cause to his readers.
* * * * *
Huntsman. "BLANKETY-BLANK THAT BLOOMIN' KAISER! I WISH MY 'OUNDS 'AD 'IM!"
Farmer. "WHAT'S 'E BIN DOIN' TO YOU NOW, JACK?"
Huntsman. "DOIN'? JUST LOOK AT THE 'OSSES 'E'S LEFT US TO RIDE!"
* * * * *
NOTES BY A WAR-DOG.
Now I don't want to snarl at the Cause—whatever it may be—but it isn't all beef-bones and country walks by any means. I first became aware of it about the same time the Dachshund at the corner house began to declare he was an Aberdeen Terrier. From that time on I scented something wrong, though could never quite dig it out. For one thing, the parrot began to practise a new phrase about "Down with the KAI...!" and also "Veeve" the something or other. Then Mabel—who does absurd things but has to be tolerated because she waits upon me—started tying coloured ribbons in my hair, and later sticking little flags in my collar; but I put a stop to that. A week ago things came to a head, and don't look like improving.
For the last five years my daily life has been brightened in manner following. We live next door to a railway station and a pastry-cook's. Every morning Mabel gives me a round hard thing she calls a penny, and very slippery to hold in one's mouth. I carry the penny to the pastry-cook's. The girl takes it and gives me a currant biscuit in exchange. Sometimes there are people in the shop, and then I gaze upon them meltingly. If they are the right sort, they melt—according to their means; usually it's pastry. The rest of the day I spend loafing about the station and the pastry-cook's. Now all that is changed.
Last Thursday Mabel took me to a Committee, a place full of typewriters and ladies; and I was registered—so they said; Mabel being given a sheet of paper all over scribble, and a wooden box with "War Relief Fund" on it. "On Monday, dear," said Mabel, "you begin."
I have begun. Would you believe it? I had to wear that beastly box tied to my collar! Retrievers, I know, are used to that sort of thing; but I'm a Collie. All that day I hung about on my old beat, and every now and then somebody gushed and called me silly names, and dropped a penny into my box. Conceive the hideous mockery of my position! By four o'clock there was I sitting outside that confectioner's, wearing enough pennies to buy the shop out, and yet not a Bath bun to the good!
But that wasn't the worst. About five an urchin came along, looked at mo, grinned, and tried to put something in my box. Clumsy little beast, he trod on my foot. I sprang forward with a growl, and his offering, whatever it was, rolled on the pavement. Round turned an old lady, and, "Oh you wicked boy," she cried, "trying to put buttons in the hospital box! No wonder the dog growled, sensible creature." She began fumbling with her purse, and I was certain I saw a macaroon in her eye. "There," she said, "there's half-a-crown for you, Doggie, dear," and, before I could stop her, put it in the box. I could have bitten her.
Yesterday an old gentleman stopped to stare at me, and, absent-mindedly putting his hand in his pocket, brought out something rather like a penny, but smaller and bright yellow, and dropped it into the box. The very next moment he gave a violent start, looked wildly about him, turned the colour of cold veal, and muttering, "Lord bless my soul ... what have I done?... thought it was only" ... made a clumsy grab at my collar. Of course I knew what he was after; he wanted my pennies; so I just ambled off, and very soon outdistanced him. An Airedale, I suppose, would have held him till the police arrived, but I'm a Collie.
That very same afternoon, wandering about the station, I chanced to saunter into the ticket-office. The clerk's a man with a very well-regulated mind. He gives me chocolate. Just then, however, he was out, but his three-year-old boy-puppy was there sitting on a table all covered with bits of cardboard and little piles of pennies, ordinary brown ones, big white ones and a few little yellow ones. Well, in less time than it takes to cock your ears, that baby was shovelling pennies through the slit in my box and chuckling with joy. I stood it as long as I could, and then, in the nick of time, snatched a big white penny out of his paw and bolted off to the confectioner's. Imagine my astonishment when the girl actually refused to serve me! "Oh, Scottie," she cried, "there must be some mistake; I know your mistress wouldn't give you a two-shilling piece."
* * *
I thought Mabel was going to be ill when she felt the weight of my box. She dragged me off that very afternoon to the Committee, and when they discovered I'd collected seven pounds ten in three days the idiotic things they said about me beat anything in my experience since the time I killed the mouse in the conservatory. But I will say Mabel did the right thing by me at the pastry-cook's.
She's going to take me to a Church Bazaar to-morrow. But I doubt if a bazaar can beat that ticket-office.
* * * * *
"I haven't introduced Herbert to you yet, have I?"
Stella-my-niece spoke with her eyes on the matinee hat before her, and concluded, a propos of the hat, though at first I feared of Herbert—"I do hope and pray that it will come off. Hip! Hip! She's pulling out pins."
"I had no idea there was—a Herbert."
"Oh, Nunckle! and you're responsible for the fact that he's mine at all!"
"Well, but for you I never might have seen him even; and I'm sure there isn't another like Herbert in the whole round world. Everyone wants him."
Presently I enquired when she proposed to introduce this paragon to the person responsible for him.
"I've got him here to-day."
I looked at her in pained silence, for Stella-my-niece, calmly fishing for "hard ones" in a chocolate box, was, as it were, sheltered under the lee of a long-haired gentleman who occupied rather more than double half-a-crown's worth of red velvet seat.
"There?" I whispered, pointing to the long-haired gentleman who neighboured her, and wondering what her mother would have to say about it all.
"Do you imagine that I should bring Herbert into the pit?"
"Point him out to me."
"I can't. Now they're going to begin!" She snuggled down into her place and invited me to do likewise in my own as the curtain rose and revealed the legs of one of our leading actor-managers, and the audience clapped, hoping for more. "Now we're going to enjoy ourselves! Don't forget to hold my hand if anything pops."
Stella-my-niece has made it a stern rule that we are not to talk during the Acts, contriving to telegraph her appreciation of most things by fervent clutches at my arm; but to-day the effects of this salutary regulation were spoilt for me by Herbert. My attention wandered.
"Is he an actor?" I asked sternly, as the lights leaped up again.
"Which do you mean? I think they were all perfect darlings in that scene."
"Why, Herbert, of course."
"HERBERT—Sir HERBERT? He isn't in this, is he? I didn't see anyone looking as bored as he does. Hunt him up in the programme—it's down there under your boots."
"I didn't mean TREE. I meant Herbert—your Herbert."
"My Herbert?" Stella-my-niece opened her mouth showing astonishment and very pretty teeth.
"Yes, your Herbert. He's an actor fellow, isn't he?"
"No, he's an umbrella—my new umbrella. I bought him with the sovereign you sent me for my birthday, and he is such a darling! I felt he ought to have a name of his own, so I called him Herbert. He looks like that."
"A girl's name—Maud, for instance, only one doesn't use them in the garden much——"
"A girl's name, like Pauline, may suit your fountain pen, and Dad may call the motor 'Mary Jane' when he's pleased with how he's mended her; but I decided I would have a man's. It sounds better to say, 'Herbert is seeing me home, thank you.' The sad thing is that I'm sure I shan't keep him long; he's so pretty. When he's waiting for me in umbrella-stands I feel nervous, and in trains. He's so unique—so utterly unlike anyone else's umbrella. I know you'll love him."
I did as soon as ever I saw him coming out of the cloak-room hanging on her arm. There was a gentle coyness in the turn of Herbert's handle, a nutty daintiness about his little gold tie which made me look involuntarily for his socks.
"Now, you wait and see if someone doesn't try to run off with him before we get home," said Stella-my-niece. "I'll hold him on a long lead so that people will think he's out by himself, and we'll await developments."
We settled ourselves by tact and firmness in a crowded apres matinee 'bus, and Stella-my-niece, having set down all her belongings the better to persuade the programme to ride inside her pocket, took Herbert by his long tassels, leaving him leaning against the seat between herself and her neighbour, a lady with many trimmings and a book.
"I hope she'll go before we do," said Stella-my-niece in my ear. "I sort of feel that she'll try to take Herbert."
She did; as she read, her hand reached out and took a grip upon Herbert's immaculate head! Stella-my-niece stifled a squeak of pure excitement.
"Oxford Street," announced the conductor dispassionately, and the trimmed lady shut her book and rose to get out. Stella-my-niece, holding Herbert by his tassels, smiled indulgently.
"You have my umbrella, I'm afraid," she said sweetly. "It is such a very uncommon one that I simply couldn't be mistaken."
The trimmed lady looked round; so did everyone in the 'bus. Then she pointed to a slim object propped against the seat between Stella-my-niece's blue skirt and my own striped garments.
"That's yours by the gentleman; they're just the same pattern."
So they were!
* * *
As Stella-my-niece said afterwards at tea, the worst of it was that it proved that Herbert wasn't quite unique; at the best he was a twin. I think that privately we thought him something worse than a triplet, but we neither knew quite how to say it. Anyhow, all the Herberts are fascinating.
* * * * *
THE UNIVERSAL WAR.
"Into this gap the Germans placed a number of gnus—six or eight."—People.
The "Gorilla Warfare" (mentioned last week) having failed, the enemy tries a new dodge. But the Allies remain unalarmed.
* * * * *
Illustration: LATEST DEVICE OF THE ENEMY.
LEARNING TO SING "IT'S A LONG, LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY" FOR THE PURPOSE OF DECEIVING THE ALLIES.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
If, as is just conceivable, the Teuton braggart fails to convert the universe into a German empire, his downfall will be partly due to his lack of humour. Among the things that go to make this saving grace are an agile imagination and a nice sense of proportion, and it is when a man starts lying about himself that he shows most clearly whether or not he has it. Some weeks ago an "Honorary Committee of thirty-four distinguished" (or, if you will, notorious) "Germans and a Board of Editors," eleven strong, gathered together to concoct an epoch-making fib, which, upon completion, was labelled "The Truth about Germany: Facts about the War", and was circulated, secretly but thoroughly, throughout the United States. The Forty-five Liars content themselves with a methodical misstatement of every fact, disregarding all the evidence, and, indeed, their own diplomatists' admissions, to the contrary. There is no ingenious perversion of the truth, no subtle invention of argument and no appeal whatever to the intelligence of the reader; it is from beginning to end heavy and quite incredible bosh. Though it was never intended to be read in this country, Mr. DOUGLAS SLADEN has been lucky or clever enough to secure a copy of it, which he reproduces cheaply under the title Germany's Great Lie (HUTCHINSON). I congratulate him upon having obtained such excellent copy, but I think he has somewhat spoilt the effect of it by the manner of his annotations interposed in italics. His facts and quotations are apt and useful, but his indignant denials and sarcastic epithets run to excess; every time one reads the emphatic assertion that black is white one does not want to have also to read that this is an amazing lie. I recommend the public to consume every word of the text, but to omit the larger part of the notes.
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In the nature of things it is possible that the 1914 crop of gift-books for boys may not be a bumper one as far as quantity is concerned, but Mr. HENRY NEWBOLT has already removed any danger of a famine. Indeed, he has done more than that, for, if quality can (as it should) be considered a satisfactory substitute for bulk, there is no reason why 1914 should not be remembered as a year in which the palates of discerning boys were most delightfully tickled. I find a difficulty in preventing my congratulations upon The Book of the Blue Sea (LONGMANS) from being fulsome. To begin with, the title itself is simply irresistible. Then, before you even get to the preface, there are some verses, "The Song of the Larboard Berth," which cry "halt" so arrestingly that after I had got by them and was fairly revelling in the entrancing pages that follow I kept on going back to have another look at
"When moonlight flecks the cruiser's decks And engines rumble slow ..."
To a nicety Mr. NEWBOLT knows how to reproduce the spirit of the sea and of adventure thereon, and whether he is writing of EDWARD PELLEW, JOHN FRANKLIN, DAVID FARRAGUT, or of Trafalgar, it is only possible to escape from his grip when he endeavours to be a little edifying. Boys may conceivably resent this tendency to point out what they can see extraordinarily well for themselves, but all the same they will admit their heavy debt to him. The Book of the Blue Sea (I must write that again), excellently illustrated by Mr. NORMAN WILKINSON, had better be confiscated forthwith by parents who do not wish their sons to become sailors. And in the end I am left wondering whether the Admiralty, overburdened by clamorous applicants, would not be wise to intern Mr. NEWBOLT in one of those camps where no ink or paper is provided, because, if he repeats this performance, we shall want a dozen new naval colleges and hundreds and hundreds more ships.
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Shifting Sands (LANE) reads like a book with a purpose from which the purpose has been by some oversight omitted. When a young person fails to "find herself" (as the phrase used to go) there should surely be provided some foil to her instability, either implicit in the behaviour of other characters or expressed in the meditations of the author. Even if the author only means to tell us that human life is all like this, she ought at least to let us know that she means it. Gabrielle Brenda is presented to us by ALICE BIRKHEAD as a girl brought up in the remoter parts of Cornwall by a father who was a semi-retired doctor and something of a dreamer. She develops dramatic talent, and having become engaged to her instructor gives him up to her younger sister for no better reason apparently than that she has always been accustomed to give that sister everything she wants. Afterwards Gabrielle becomes the secretary of a domineering little manufacturer in the Black Country with expensive sons and daughters. She resists his proposals of marriage and also the temptation to purloin his eldest daughter's fiance, and then reverts to her original vocation, without finding on the stage either satisfaction or any remarkable success. For I see no indication that the offer of a fairly lucrative engagement in America, with which the book ends, is regarded by the author as the golden moment of her heroine's career. Altogether I am at a loss whether to learn from Shifting Sands the disadvantages of a haphazard education, the unfair position of woman in the labour-market, or merely the irony of fate. And this is a pity because, though the manner of the story is very episodic, there are scenes and conversations of considerable vivacity and truth.
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BARONESS ORCZY is to be congratulated on a distinctly ingenious idea. Searching about her, no doubt, for a successor to the famous Pimpernel, her attention was caught by a certain picture in the WALLACE Collection, a picture everyone knows and admires for its rollicking and adventurous high spirits. "Capital!" said she (as I imagine it); "why not trace back the line of Blakeney, and make the subject of this picture the ancestor from whom he inherited his endearing qualities?" The Laughing Cavalier (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is the result. Having thus divined the origin of the hero, I feel that any further indication of his character would be almost superfluous. You will certainly not find this new Blakeney unworthy of his house. It is perhaps something of a surprise to find him a mercenary in seventeenth-century Holland; but the old touch is there. Thus, having been hired by a gang of conspirators to abduct the sister of one of them, who has overheard their plans for the slaying of the Stadtholder, and keep her prisoner till the deed be done, what more Blakeneyish than that he should recognise in his captive the particular object of his affections? or that, having abducted the girl according to instructions received, he should presently be offered untold gold by her distracted parent for her discovery and return. A faintly embarrassing situation this, even for an ancestor of the elusive Pimpernel. How he manages to turn it all to favour and romance you must allow Baroness ORCZY to tell you herself. Incidentally, the appearance of the book at this particular moment, and in spite (so the publishers inform me on a slip) of the author's first resolve to postpone it, proves her to possess something of the sporting spirit of her creation. Hero's luck to them both!
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A novelist creating a novelist-hero is on dangerous ground. If he be a little less than perfectly sincere he runs risk of being pretentious, fatuous even. But sincerity is just Mr. CHARLES MARRIOTT'S conspicuous quality, and here in The Unpetitioned Heavens (HUTCHINSON) it commands a dexterous and fastidious workmanship. You'll find, if you read a scene over again, that there's more, not less, in it than you thought. Mr. MARRIOTT makes his characters alive by realisation of their subtleties rather than of their obviousnesses, and that's a feat to which I doff my beaver. The main theme, sensitively felt and developed, is a delicate one—the love of a middle-aged woman for a man who is rapt in worship at a distance of a younger woman, the other's friend. The manoeuvring of the elder, which might easily have been vulgarised on the one hand or devitalised on the other, just remains refreshingly and believably human. Mr. MARRIOTT'S story is not a yarn, but a brocade of intricate design and exquisite colouring. Let justice be done and The Unpetitioned Heavens fall to a wide circle of perceptive readers.
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Illustration: Amateur Constable (Policeman's son). "I ARREST YER ON SUSPICION O' STEALIN' A RESERVOIR. ANY 'OLLERIN' 'LL BE TOOK DAHN AGIN YER."
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"At Monday's meeting, Mr. H. H. Gibbs, J. P., the Chairman, expressed the opinion that the town should not be so conspicuous at night, as in the event of a Zeppelin raid Bognor might be mistaken for Portsmouth."—Southern Weekly News.
It would be small consolation to England, if Bognor Cinema Palace fell, that Portsmouth Dockyard had been saved.
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