OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
SEPTEMBER 2, 1914.
* * * * *
Reports still continue to come in as to the outbursts of rage which took place in Germany when the news of our participation in the War reached that country. Seeing that we had merely been asked to allow our friends to be robbed and murdered, our interference is looked upon as peculiarly gratuitous.
We hear, by the way, that the Germans, who hold Kiao-chau on a long lease, appealed unsuccessfully to Leaseholders Protection Societies all over the world to intervene in defence of their interests.
We understand that a new version of the KAISER'S famous "Yellow Peril" cartoon (it bore the inscription, "Nations of Europe, protect your property!") is in preparation at Tokio, in which a jaundiced KAISER is delineated as the Yellow Peril.
Those persons who complain that the Allies are too frequently on the defensive forget that it is very difficult to be as offensive as the Germans.
The report that among the troops which entered Brussels was a bear dressed up in infamous taste to represent the King of the BELGIANS is denied in Germany. It is quite possible that he was merely one of the Prussian officers.
The Giornale d'Italia reports that, at a meeting of cardinals held at Rome, it was decided to issue an appeal to the belligerents to agree to a truce pending the election of a new Pope. It is thought, however, that the KAISER will refuse even such a reasonable request as this.
It is rumoured that WILHELM II. has despatched all his British uniforms to KING GEORGE. This, anyhow, should be remembered to his credit. He did not wish to disgrace them.
The temptation to call the KAISER names is, of course, almost irresistible, but we are rather surprised to come across the following head-lines in our serious contemporary, The Observer:—
"Brussels—and After. The German Sweep."
There would seem to be no end to the social horrors of the War. The Teuton journal Manufakturist is now prophesying that one of its results will be the substitution of German for French fashions.
The title of "The King of Prussia," one of the oldest licensed houses at Barnet, is to be altered. Every effort, we understand, is being made in Germany to keep the news from the KAISER.
People must not come down too heavily on KEIR HARDIE. We honestly believe that he honestly believes that his little views are right. That's what makes his case so sad.
The Dominican Revolution, it is announced, has ended. It is supposed to have been unable to stand the competition of the bigger war.
There appears to be considerable difference of opinion as to whether those persons who are in want of a holiday should take it as usual or not. The "Take your Change" movement may be quite right for women and children; but the "Leave your Change" movement is better still.
According to The Evening News three elephants have been requisitioned from the Zoo at the White City by the military authorities. In Berlin, no doubt, this will be taken to signify that our heavy cavalry mounts are giving out.
The Committee of the Masters of the Foxhounds Association have decided that, while regular hunting will be impossible, they consider it would be most prejudicial to the country in general if it were allowed to lapse altogether. In this, we understand, the Committee and the foxes do not see eye to eye, the latter taking the view that hunting men ought now to devote their entire attention to more important matters.
"GERMANS DRIVEN BACK FROM ANTWERP" read an indignant old lady. "Driven, indeed!" she exclaimed; "I'd have made them walk!"
The statement issued to the Press by Messrs. SUTTON AND SONS to the effect that large supplies of bulbs from Holland are now being delivered at Reading in as good a condition as ever has, we hear, had a distinctly steadying effect on the country at large.
From Hoylake comes the news that certain persons who live in a street there called Prussia Road have petitioned the Urban District Council for a change of name—and it is rumoured that the Council, with a view to saving the ratepayers' pockets, have hit upon the ingenious idea of obliterating the first letter only of the present name—thereby also paying a well-deserved compliment to a distinguished ally.
A clerk who left a month ago for a week in lovely Lucerne and has only just been able to get back found his employer (a merchant with a strain of German blood in his veins) quite angry. "I have half a mind to dismiss you for exceeding your leave," he said. "However, you are useful to me. Only please understand that you have now had your holiday for the next three years as well."
* * * * *
Illustration: "Special constables who can speak German are particularly required."—Daily paper.
Special Constable (having cornered his man). "SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCH?" Suspect. "NEIN! NEIN!"
* * * * *
"A sow has given birth to a freak of nature. The animal's face is almost human in appearance, it has neither eyes nor nostrils, but a nose like a fish."
Sheffield Daily Telegraph.
This is like none of our friends.
* * * * *
(To our Soldiers in the field.)
Not only that your cause is just and right— This much was never doubted; war or play, We go with clean hands into any fight; That is our English way;—
Not this high thought alone shall brace your thews To trample under heel those Vandal hordes Who laugh when blood of mother and babe imbrues Their damned craven swords.
But here must be hot passion, white of flame, Pure hate of this unutterable wrong, Sheer wrath for Christendom so sunk in shame, To make you trebly strong.
These smoking hearths of fair and peaceful lands, This reeking trail of deeds abhorred of Hell, They cry aloud for vengeance at your hands, Ruthless and swift and fell.
Strike, then—and spare not—for the innocent dead Who lie there, stark beneath the weeping skies, As though you saw your dearest in their stead Butchered before your eyes.
And though the guiltless pay for others guilt Who preached these brute ideals in camp and Court; Though lives of brave and gentle foes be spilt, That loathe this coward sport;
On each, without distinction, worst or best, Fouled by a nation's crime, one doom must fall; Be you its instrument, and leave the rest To GOD, the Judge of all
Let it be said of you, when sounds at length Over the final field the victor's strain:— "They struck at infamy with all their strength, And earth is clean again!"
* * * * *
HOW GERMANY CAME OFF.
(Extracts from a diary kept at intervals by a very special correspondent in the Dardanelles.)
GOEBEN arrives Dardanelles. Announcement of sale to Turkey and of disembarcation of German crew.
Goeben still in Dardanelles. Having been disposed of to Turkey, the ship again disembarced her crew.
Goeben continuing in Dardanelles, the disembarcation of German crew, which was completed three days ago and again yesterday, began again to-day and was carried out successfully.
The Goeben still being at anchor in the Dardanelles, it was decided to carry out a disembarcation of her German crew on a scale surpassing all previous efforts.
The Goeben continues in the Dardanelles. Owing to the remarkable expertness which her crew has acquired, it was possible to carry out three disembarcations this afternoon. The officer commanding, indeed, proposes shortly to issue a challenge to ships of all nationalities for the Open Disembarcation Championship of the World.
The Goeben remains in the Dardanelles. In response to a pressing request from great masses of the Turkish population, who have been unable before to witness the ceremony, it has been decided again to disembark the German crew, and, beginning to-morrow at 10 A.M., the impressive spectacle will be gone through at regular intervals of an hour throughout the day. All the railway companies have announced cheap excursions, and there can be no doubt that these disembarcations will easily surpass all earlier ones.
The German crew of the Goeben are agitating for an eight-hour day.
Instructions having reached the crew of the Goeben to return to Germany, a magnificent Farewell Disembarcation took place last night. At its conclusion sympathisers presented an illuminated address bearing the following inscription "To the crew of the Goeben on the occasion of their final disembarcation before leaving for the Fatherland."
Later.—Arrival of the crew of the Goeben at Kiel. Great popular enthusiasm. KAISER orders a Special Disembarcation to take place before entire Fleet, a duplicate cruiser (in the regretable absence of the Goeben) being lent for the purpose.
* * * * *
PEACE reigns in the club-house on the links. The young men have nearly all gone, and Morris, our veteran "plus two" member, who generally only condescends to go round with the pro. and one or two choice players, is eager for a match with anyone. Only you must play for five shillings for his wife's branch of the Red Cross Society.
In the smoke-room over our pipes—cigars are considered wasteful and bad form—the old conversational warriors look at one another. I glance across at Sellars, a member of that loathsome, I should say highly admirable, institution, the National Liberal Club. It is not six weeks since I denounced him as a pestilent traitor because he demanded, for some reason, that escapes me, the blockade of a city called Belfast. And, if I remember, he alluded to me as a traitorous tamperer with the Army. But now I praise the admirable patriotism of JOHN REDMOND; I eulogise the financial genius of LLOYD GEORGE; I grow fervid as I rhapsodise about WINSTON.
Then Sellars interposes, "My dear fellow, why do you forget the splendid abnegation of Sir EDWARD CARSON? As for LLOYD GEORGE he may have done well, but hasn't he AUSTEN at his elbow all the time? Talk about WINSTON if you like, but, after all, he has only muzzled the German fleet. F. E. SMITH has done a far more wonderful thing. He has muzzled the British Press."
Peace! It is wonderful. Only at the back of my mind there is one sad thought which I strive to put away from me. Suppose a General Election comes whilst the war is still on. I, as a patriot, shall have to vote for the splendid Government. It will be Sellars' duty and joy to support our splendid Opposition. And, if we all act in the same way, we shall have those wretched—what funny slips one's pen makes!—those adorable Radicals back in power for another five years.
But when the war is over and we see a free Europe I promise myself one reward. The night when peace is proclaimed I shall seek out Sellars and tell him just what I think about LLOYD GEORGE; and I haven't the slightest doubt that he will celebrate the occasion by some venomous abuse of BONAR LAW.
You see at present we are handicapped; we are just Englishmen.
* * * * *
Another Impending Apology.
"The first editor of GOLFING was Mr. Thomas Marlowe, who is now editor of the Daily Mail. On the other hand, there have been several editors of GOLFING who have since risen to positions of distinction."—Golfing.
* * * * *
Illustration: TO ARMS! RECRUITING-SERGEANT PUNCH. "NOW, MY LADS, YOUR COUNTRY WANTS YOU. WHO'S FOR THE FRONT?"
* * * * *
Illustration: UNDER MARTIAL LAW.
"NOW MIND, MARY, IF A SENTRY ASKS YOU WHO YOU ARE, YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY ANSWER, 'FRIEND.'"
"YES, 'M, BUT WHAT AM I TO SAY IF HE ASKS ME HOW BABY IS?"
* * * * *
THE ATTACK ON GERMAN TRADE.
Those mistaken persons who maintain that "music has no frontiers" have been sharply rebuked by the patriotic action of the management of certain concerts, who boldly opened the season by expelling all German music from their programmes. It is all very well to say that this is confounding the Germany that we honour and admire with the Germany of the other sort, of which we have had more than enough. The step has been taken on the highest patriotic grounds, and although the ban has been partially removed since the season began, it is clearly indicated that this conciliatory attitude will only last so long as the main German fleet continues to skulk behind the defences of Kiel. If there is any aggressive movement, then let it be understood that TSCHAIKOWSKI'S Pathetique Symphony will be worn threadbare by nightly repetition sooner than that we should have any truck with BRAHMS, WAGNER or BACH.
Already the occupation of Brussels has caused the scratching (at the very last moment) of the SCHUMANN concerto.
Of course there is more in it than meets the eye. If all German music is eliminated there are bound to be prodigious gaps which must be filled up somehow. Very well. The result can only be a new state of activity in the home composing industry. This is no time for giving away secrets, but perhaps we may be allowed to say that the continued attendance last week of Sir HENRY WOOD at the offices of the Board of Trade can only mean that he too is taking his part in a comprehensive and well-considered plan for making war on German industries. Now is the time for the native producer to get to work. Germany must once and for all be ousted from this market. There need be no difficulty in obtaining samples, and we look to British industry and enterprise to do the rest.
We are not sure that neutrals should be allowed into this thing. An exception might be made in the case of Italy, but, apart from her, we should limit the exotic features in our programmes to the works of our allies in the field. It might give a needed fillip to the national music of Japan.
* * * * *
How it strikes our Contemporaries.
"Yesterday's eclipse of the sun was itself eclipsed by the world shadow. Shortly after noon a large inky blot obscured nearly three-quarters of the sun's surface and a violet haze hung over London, but very few people were heeding the phenomenon in the sky. The hawkers, even, were too busy selling patriotic favours to offer smoked glasses."—Daily Mail.
"Londoners did not permit the war to eclipse the eclipse. The hawkers' cry, 'Smoked glass a penny,' was heard everywhere, and there was a ready sale for the pieces of glass which enabled one to view the darkening of the sun." Daily Mirror.
The allies should come to a better agreement than this.
* * * * *
"Spies Output Down Again," says a contemporary, and we were just going to congratulate the authorities when we discovered that it referred to a Petroleum Company.
* * * * *
THE FATAL GIFT.
People say to me sometimes, "Oh, you know Woolman, don't you?" I acknowledge that I do, and, after the silence that always ensues, I add, "If you want to say anything against him, please go on." You can almost hear the sigh of relief that goes up. "I thought he was a friend of yours," they say cheerfully. "But, of course, if——" and then they begin.
I think it is time I explained my supposed friendship for Ernest Merrowby Woolman—confound him.
The affair began in a taxicab two years ago. Andrew had been dining with me that night; we walked out to the cab-rank together; I told the driver where to go, and Andrew stepped in, waved good-bye to me from the window, and sat down suddenly upon something hard. He drew it from beneath him, and found it was an extremely massive (and quite new) silver cigar-case. He put it in his pocket with the intention of giving it to the driver when he got out, but quite naturally forgot. Next morning he found it on his dressing-table. So he put it in his pocket again, meaning to leave it at Scotland Yard on his way to the City.
Next morning it was on his dressing-table again.
This went on for some days. After a week or so Andrew saw that it was hopeless to try to get a cigar-case back to Scotland Yard in this casual sort of way; it must be taken there deliberately by somebody who had a morning to spare and was willing to devote it to this special purpose. He placed the case, therefore, prominently on a small table in the dining-room to await the occasion; calling also the attention of his family to it, as an excuse for an outing when they were not otherwise engaged.
At times he used to say, "I must really take that cigar-case to Scotland Yard to-morrow."
At other times he would say, "Somebody must really take that cigar-case to Scotland Yard to-day."
And so the weeks rolled on ...
It was about a year later that I first got mixed up with the thing. I must have dined with the Andrews several times without noticing the cigar-case, but on this occasion it caught my eye as we wandered out to join the ladies, and I picked it up carelessly. Well, not exactly carelessly; it was too heavy for that.
"Why didn't you tell me," I said, "that you had stood for Parliament and that your supporters had consoled you with a large piece of plate? Hallo, they've put the wrong initials on it. How unbusiness-like."
"Oh, that?" said Andrew. "Is it still there?"
"Why not? It's quite a solid little table. But you haven't explained why your constituents, who must have seen your name on hundreds of posters, thought your initials were E. M. W."
"Then it isn't yours at all?" I said in amazement.
"Of course not."
"But, my dear man, this is theft. Stealing by finding, they call it. You could get"—I looked at him almost with admiration—"you could get two years for this;" and I weighed the cigar-case in my hand. "I believe you're the only one of my friends who could be certain of two years," I went on musingly. "Let's see, there's——"
"Nonsense," said Andrew uneasily. "But still, perhaps I'd better take it back to Scotland Yard to-morrow."
"And tell them you've kept it for a year? They'd run you in at once. No, what you want to do is to get rid of it without their knowledge. But how—that's the question. You can't give it away because of the initials."
"It's easy enough. I can leave it in another cab, or drop it in the river."
"Andrew, Andrew," I cried, "you're determined to go to prison! Don't you know from all the humorous articles you've ever read that, if you try to lose anything, then you never can? It's one of the stock remarks one makes to women in the endeavour to keep them amused. No, you must think of some more subtle way of disposing of it."
"I'll pretend it's yours," said Andrew more subtly, and he placed it in my pocket.
"No, you don't," I said. "But I tell you what I will do. I'll take it for a week and see if I can get rid of it. If I can't, I shall give it you back and wash my hands of the whole business—except, of course, for the monthly letter or whatever it is they allow you at the Scrubbs. You may still count on me for that."
And then the extraordinary thing happened. The next morning I received a letter from a stranger, asking for some simple information which I could have given him on a post-card. And so I should have done—or possibly, I am afraid, have forgotten to answer at all—but for the way that the letter ended up.
"Yours very truly, ERNEST M. WOOLMAN."
The magic initials! It was a chance not to be missed. I wrote enthusiastically back and asked him to lunch.
He came. I gave him all the information he wanted, and lots more. Whether he was a pleasant sort of person or not I hardly noticed; I was so very pleasant myself.
He returned my enthusiasm. He asked me to dine with him the following week. A little party at the Savoy—his birthday, you know.
I accepted gladly. I rolled up at the party with my little present ... a massive silver cigar-case ... suitably engraved.
So there you are. He clings to me. He seems to have formed the absurd idea that I am fond of him. A few months after that evening at the Savoy he was married. I was invited to the wedding—confound him. Of course I had to live up to my birthday present; the least I could do was an enormous silver cigar-box (not engraved), which bound me to him still more strongly.
By that time I realised that I hated him. He was pushing, familiar, everything that I disliked. All my friends wondered how I had become so intimate with him ...
Well, now they know. And the original E. M. W., if he has the sense to read this article, knows. If he cares to prosecute Ernest Merrowby Woolman for being in possession of stolen goods I shall be glad to give him any information. Woolman is generally to be found leaving my rooms at about 6.30 in the evening, and a smart detective could easily nab him as he steps out.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
Dear maiden of the sunny head And cheeks of coral hue, The lips of rarest ruby red, The eyes of Oxford blue, And other charms I've left unsaid ... Ah, how I envy you!
Heedless of half a world at war You neither strive nor cry; Though danger knocks at England's door There's laughter in your sky: You ask not what she's fighting for, Nor reck the reason why.
You little guess, you never will, The force that nerves this fist To toil away for you until My mind is like a mist; The lack of money for the mill, The growing dearth of grist.
Ah, since amid a world grown wild, And horrors still half told, Peace has her palace round you piled, By all the gods I hold You are a very lucky child, My little Nine-months-old.
* * * * *
Illustration: Officer Commanding Squad (about to cross Waterloo Bridge.) "'ALT! BREAK STEP! LARGE COLUMNS OF TROOPS WHEN CROSSIN' BRIDGES IS COMMANDED TO 'BREAK STEP' SO THAT THE UNISON OF THEIR TREAD MAY NOT DANGEROUSLY THREATEN THE STERBILITY OF THE BRIDGE."
* * * * *
A CANDIDATE FOR THE FORCE.
"I want to enrol myself as a Special Constable," I said to the man in mufti behind the desk.
"Well, don't let me stop you," he remarked. "The Police Station is next door. This is a steam laundry."
A minute later I began again:—
"I want to enrol myself as a Steam Laund—that is to say, as a Special Constable."
"Certainly, Sir," said the Inspector in charge. "Your name and address?"
I opened my cigarette-case and placed a card on the desk.
"The name of the house is pronounced Song Soocee," I said, "not, as spelt, Sans Souci."
The Inspector handed me back the card. It was a cigarette-picture representing the proper method of bandaging a displaced knee-cap. I rectified the error, and he entered the information in a book.
"I must ask if you are a British subject?" he inquired.
"You might almost describe me as super-British," I replied. "There is a tradition in my family that my ancestors were on Hastings Pier when the Conqueror arrived."
"Thank you. That will be all."
"You don't want me to give references, one of which must be a clergyman or a J.P.? You don't require me to state previous experience, if any, or any details of that sort?"
"Oh, no," he answered. "That'll be all right. You are no doubt familiar with squad drill?"
"Splendid! I had no idea it was used in the Force."
"Eight turn—left turn—about turn—form fours—and so on?"
"I beg your pardon," I said, "but what did you call that?"
"Squad drill, Sir."
"O-o-h! I thought you said 'quadrille'. But I know the turns. Right turn, I turn to the right; left turn, I turn to the left; about turn, I turn just about, but not quite; form fours, I form—excuse me, but how does one man form fours?"
"There will, of course, be others," replied the Inspector. "You'll soon pick it up. And please state at what hours of the day you would be prepared to take duty."
"Well," I said, "I've practically nothing to do from the time I get up—half-past ten—until mid-day. I could also manage to spare half-an-hour between afternoon-tea and dinner. And I could just drop in here about eleven at night to see if things were going along all right. Now, if you'll kindly fetch me a bull's-eye lantern, a life-preserver, a bullet-proof tunic, some indiarubber boots, a revolver, and a letter of introduction to some of the most skilful cooks in the neighbourhood I can put in one crowded hour of joyous life before I'm due on the links."
"Just a moment," said the Inspector. "I don't want to discourage you, but kindly cast your eye over these paragraphs;" and he handed me a printed circular. "You will see that it will be necessary for you to perform four consecutive hours' duty."
"Good heavens," I exclaimed, "I don't think I shall be able to manage that. I'm in the middle of an important jig-saw; I'm expecting a new motor-car to arrive any minute; and I have a slight head-cold. However, if my country calls me, I will see what can be arranged."
I noticed the Inspector's look of admiration at my bull-dog resolution, so to hide my blushes I perused the circular.
"I see," I said, "that we are each supplied with 'one armlet.' What's an armlet?".
"A badge that goes round your arm."
"Of course! How stupid of me! Just like a bracelet goes round one's—no, that won't do. Just like a gimlet goes—no, that doesn't either. I can't think of a simile, but I quite understand. Then we have 'one whistle.' What's that for? To whistle on if I feel lonely?"
"To summon assistance if you should require it."
"I have an idea that my whistle will be overworked. Shall I be able to get a new one when the original's worn out?"
The Inspector thought there would be no difficulty in my getting rewhistled.
"'One truncheon,'" I continued. "That, of course, is to trunch with. One truncheon, though, seems rather niggardly. I should prefer two, one in each hand. 'One note-book'—is that for autographs and original contributions from my brother Specials?"
"For noting names and addresses and details of cases," explained the Inspector. "For instance, if, when on duty, you saw Jack Johnson committing a breach of the peace you would—"
"Blow my whistle hard—"
"Certainly not. You would take his name and address and note it down."
"And if he refused it I could then whistle for help?"
"No, you would at once arrest him."
"What's the earliest possible moment at which it would be etiquette to blow my whistle?"
"When he offered resistance. Then you could whistle."
"No, I couldn't," I said, "not unless my equipment included one pair of bellows. Do you mean to tell me that I should be expected to arrest a man of infinitely superior physique to my own with no other weapons than one armlet, one whistle, one truncheon and one note-book? Surely I should be allowed to run for the Mayor and get him to read the Riot Act? If not, I can only say a policeman's lot is——"
"Not a happy one?" put in the Inspector.
"I was going to say a policeman's lot is a lot too much. Would you kindly cross my name off your list?"
"I crossed it off some minutes ago," replied the Inspector.
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
DEAR CHARLES,—Another letter from the back of the front for you. You will be glad to hear that your Terrier is settling down in his temporary kennel and sharpening his teeth in due course. The time will come when you may look your gift dog in the mouth and be not disappointed, we hope, by the view.
We received orders a day or two ago to take up our beds and walk; that is, a couple of officers and a hundred odd of the men were told off to execute a flank movement on a neighbouring township where there is a range, and do our damnedest with the poor old targets. So we put our oddments in our pillow-case, rolled up our bedrooms into a convenient bundle and trekked. We were assured that we should be back at our base within the week, but we have learnt to take no chances. We have but one form of movement, the tout ensemble.
It is quite refreshing to step, over a hundred strong, into a village with no pre-arranged scheme of board and lodging. Like every other wanderer in a strange part, we turn first to the policeman. We march towards him at attention; we call a halt at the base of his feet, and then, with the courtesy of the gentleman and the brevity of the soldier, we inform him that we have arrived. The next development is up to him.
It is not to him, however, that we owe our temporary rest. It is to that irrepressible and indefatigable unit, the Boy Scout. Charles, I believe we'd all be lying out in the rain at this moment but for that assistance. The equipment of the Boy Scout on billeting duty consists of a piece of white chalk and a menacing demeanour. Thus armed, he knocks at every likely door, wishes the householder a good morning and registers on the door-frame the number of men that may be left till called for within, even while the policeman is still endeavouring to explain the international situation and the military exigencies to the slow-thinking rustic. Many formidable obstacles lie in our path, we know, but we are comforted by the thought that the Boy Scout isn't one of them. If, in the next generation, Britain continues to exist as a nation and not as a depot for the training of waiters in the Berlin restaurants, then indeed we shall have something to rely on in these adaptable young fellows.
The host upon whom we officers were thrust was quite polite as long as our Boy Scout stood by, but, left to himself, turned out crusty. He was rather too old to turn into the perfect hotel proprietor all in a minute, and, as he put it, "he couldn't see his way" to do this and that for us. He was prepared to do all he had to do, but no more. Unfortunately we were not as well up in the regulations as our youthful and now departed protector. So we went out and did a bit of billeting on our own. It is an odd experience, this knocking at somebody's door and, upon being asked what one has come for, answering, "To stay." For ourselves we thought that the Rector would be a good man to experiment on. These parsons are used to being victimised and are known not to be too harsh upon the delinquent. So off we went to the Rectory, significantly handling our hilts and twirling our military stubbles. But the essence of war is surprise, and it was the Rector's wife who confronted our attack.
I said, upon enquiry, that I couldn't say what we wanted but placed myself unreservedly in my colleague's hands. I then took a pace to the rear and prepared to retire in good order. Robertson's whole efforts were concentrated on refraining from taking off his cap, as behoves a gentleman, but not an officer, and the Rector's wife remained amiable but on the defensive. Charles, our position was a hopeless one and our careers had concluded then and there but for the arrival of the ally. Boy Scouts are as tactful as they are forgiving; he accepted our explanation and apology to himself and he explained for us and apologised to the Rector's wife. It was little he had to say, for never was a less reluctant and more efficient billettee. This kind lady has not only made our sojourn one long series of simple luxuries, she has been through the whole of our kit and washed and repaired the lot. Think what you may about the Church when you are a civilian in affluence, but when you are a soldier in distress turn to it first for succour.
Lastly, a minor incident of a regretable nature. Halting on the march yesterday for our transport to catch up (our transport is known as Lieutenant Pearson's Circus) I discovered one of our dusty thirsty warriors having made his illegal entrance into a public-house by an emergency door. There he stood with a glisten in his eyes and his hand just about to grasp the pewter pot! Out he went under sentence of death by slow torture, and there was I left, with a thirst such as I have never before believed to be possible, alone with a pewter pot, with the foam just brimming over the top ... alone, unseen, undiscoverable ...
Your fallen Friend, HENRY.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE LANGUAGE OF THE HOUR.
Irate Lady (firing Parthian shot after marital misunderstanding). "Yer—yer bloomin' Oolan!"
* * * * *
The Autumn publishing season will undoubtedly be affected by the war, several firms having decided to withhold most of their forthcoming books. Messrs. Odder and Thynne, however, being convinced that the reading public cannot subsist entirely on newspapers, have with great public spirit resolved to publish their full programme, which is unusually full of works of interest.
* * * * *
The foremost place in their list is allotted to Principal Toshley Potts's volume of essays, which bear the attractive title of The Hill of Havering. Principal Potts was recently hailed by Sir NICHOLSON ROBERTS as "the Scots A. C. Benson," and this felicitous analogy will, we feel sure, be triumphantly vindicated by the contents of this epoch-making work, which by the way is dedicated to Dr. Emery Cawker, of the University of Brashville, Ga.
* * * * *
Another work of outstanding significance is a volume of poems, entitled Kailyard Carols, from the accomplished pen of Mr. Alan Bodgers, whom Mr. DAVID LYALL, in a three-column article in the Penman, recently declared to be the finest lyric poet since SHELLEY, and Mr. LYALL seldom makes a mistake. Mr. Bodgers, it may be added, is the sub-editor of the Kilspindie Courant, and has a handicap of twenty-two at the local golf club.
* * * * *
Very welcome also is the announcement that Professor Hector McGollop has undertaken to edit a series of Manuals of Moral Uplift, to which he will contribute the opening volume on The Art of Unction. Other contributors to the series are Dr. Talisker Dinwiddie, Principal Marcus Tonks and the Rev. Bandley Chadd.
* * * * *
In the department of fiction the most remarkable of the novelties promised by Messrs. Odder and Thynne is The Nut's Progress, by Mr. EWAN STRAW. It will be remembered that in a four-column review of Mr. STRAW'S last book, Nothing Doing, which appeared in the Xmas number of the Book Booster, Sir CLEMENT SHORTHOUSE declared that this talented fictionist combined the lilt of FRANK SMEDLEY (the author of Frank Fairleigh) with the whimsicality of BARRIE and the austere morality of ANNIE SWAN. Otherwise we may be sure the firm of Odder and Thynne would never have published a work with so risky a title.
* * * * *
Of wolves that wear sheep's clothing The world has long been full, But I've a special loathing For one in Berlin wool.
Although the wool may cover Not more than half the beast, Perhaps when all is over He'll be entirely fleeced.
* * * * *
"MAGNIFICENT BEQUEST TO THE LOUVRE. Sunspot Visible to the Naked Eye."
France seems to have acquired Germany's spot in the sun.
* * * * *
Illustration: Ethel (in apprehensive whisper which easily reaches her German governess, to whom she is deeply attached). "MOTHER, SHALL WE HAVE TO KILL FRAeULEIN?"
* * * * *
REASONING IN THE RANKS.
[Several journals have pointed out that the type of recruit now offering himself is in a high degree capable of reasoning and initiative.]
"Now I want any of you who are puzzled about anything to ask questions about it," said the instructing sergeant-major ... and anon:
"Right about, Number 3 of the front rank! There is no such thing as left about turn. Squad, form——"
"Excuse me," interrupted Number 3, "but why do you say that there is no such thing as left about turn?"
"Because there isn't," said the sergeant-major unsympathetically.
"But, my good man," urged Number 3, "there must be. I've just done it. Why, look here!"
He did it again.
"Such a movement is not in the drill-book," said the sergeant-major curtly.
"But," protested Number 3, "you told us yourself only yesterday that very few of the total possible commands are in the drill-book. For instance, there is no provision for lining a railway embankment, often, I understand, a salutary and even vital evolution."
The sergeant-major considered.
"There's no use," he said at last weightily, "'avin' two ways of doin' anything when one will do. It is generally considered that right about turn is enough ways of turning about for any one man."
"By all means," admitted the recruit generously, "let us be frugal. Frugality is the mainspring of efficiency. One way of turning about is ample for me. But why right rather than left?"
"Because right's right, and that's all there is to it," said the sergeant-major, who was tiring of the argument.
"Exactly," admitted Number 3, "and left's left, and that leaves us just where we started. Now if the War Office had tossed up and made a general decision in favour of right I could understand the position. But my impression is that this is not so. Thus, if I were to step off with the right foot——"
"Shut your face," said the sergeant-major, "and do what you're told. Squad! A-bout—— Turn!"
"Reasoning," observed Number 3, "is lost upon yonder survival of the old school of stereotyped militarism. The hour for initiative has arrived."
And by way of protest he executed a neat left about turn.
* * * * *
GUNS OF VERDUN
Guns of Verdun point to Metz From the plated parapets; Guns of Metz grin back again O'er the fields of fair Lorraine.
Guns of Metz are long and grey Growling through a summer day; Guns of Verdun, grey and long, Boom an echo of their song.
Guns of Metz to Verdun roar, "Sisters, you shall foot the score;" Guns of Verdun say to Metz, "Fear not, for we pay our debts."
Guns of Metz they grumble, "When?" Guns of Verdun answer then, "Sisters, when to guard Lorraine Gunners lay you East again!"
* * * * *
Illustration: AT THE POST OF HONOUR.
LIBERTY (to Belgium)—"TAKE COMFORT. YOUR COURAGE IS VINDICATED; YOUR WRONGS SHALL BE AVENGED."
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Lords, Tuesday, Aug. 25.—After fortnight's recess Parliament meets again. Scene mightily changed. At time of adjournment country on brink of war. Now in thick of it.
Contrary to custom interest centred in Chamber at this end of corridor. Man of the moment is the tall strongly-framed figure that enters on stroke of appointed hour and marches with soldierly step to Ministerial Bench. This is KITCHENER, Secretary of State for War, primed with message from the Army which, making its first stand at Mons, had a baptism of fire that lasted thirty-six hours.
With characteristic modesty the new Minister seated himself at lower end of Bench. CREWE presently arriving signalled him to come up higher. Accordingly seated himself next to LEADER OF HOUSE. Thence rose at half-past four to make his maiden speech, a deliverance effected under rarely momentous circumstances. Brought with him one of those "scraps of paper" which the KAISER scorns when they contain such trifling matter as a solemn treaty with a neighbouring nation. On this KITCHENER, more at home on the battlefield than in a place where a man's business is to talk, had written his speech.
It was brief, manly, simple. Made haste to point out that, though associated with the Cabinet, holding high office in the Government, his appearance on the Ministerial Bench did not imply that he belonged to any political party.
"As a soldier," he said, "I have no politics."
House startled to hear him add that his occupation of the post of Secretary of State for War is temporary. Terms of his service are those of the recruits for the new Army. He is engaged to serve during the war. If it lasts longer than three years, then for three years only.
Faced by grim suggestion that the war just opening may last for three years, a deeper gravity fell over listening House. KITCHENER pre-eminently a man who knows what he is talking about. And here he was in level tones, unruffled manner, taking into account the contingency of the war lasting three years.
That this was no idle conjecture, rather a well-thought-out possibility intelligently provided for, appeared when he went on to describe how the contingency must be faced. The enemy had already brought his full resources into the field. It was a maximum which, after a succession of days like last Sunday, must necessarily diminish. On the other hand, whilst we have put a comparatively small force afoot, there is behind it, at home and in the Colonies, a vast reserve which, diligently trained and organised, will steadily reinforce the fighting line. In the course of six or seven months there will be a total of thirty divisions, continually kept up to full fighting strength.
Nor was that all.
"If," said the soldier-Minister, "the war be protracted, and if its fortune be varied or adverse, exertions and sacrifices beyond any already demanded will be required from the whole nation and Empire."
Ominous words increasing prevalent gloom. At least satisfactory to know that in his official communications KITCHENER will always cheer us by presenting to closest view the worst that has actually happened or is possibly in store.
Business done.—KITCHENER makes his maiden speech.
Illustration: ANOTHER "SCRAP OF PAPER." (K. of K.)
House of Commons, Wednesday.—No one looking in on House this afternoon would imagine that the country is engaged in an armed fight, issues of which will in one direction or another transform the aspect of Europe. Atmosphere unruffled. "Business as usual" the order of the day.
Pretty full attendance considering House has with brief intervals been in session since February and meets again at what in normal times would be period of full recess. PREMIER on Treasury Bench at opening of sitting. Having answered a few questions, withdrew to his private room and was no more seen.
LLOYD GEORGE, left in charge, moved through various stages series of emergency measures.
On Currency and Bank Note Bill question of design of new twenty-shilling and ten-shilling notes came up. Some disrespectful things said of it. CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER admitted its imperfection but pleaded that in the hurried circumstances of the day it was the best that could be done. Exception especially taken on score that the design made forgery easy. Here the CHANCELLOR differed.
"I have been told by an expert in these matters," he said, with the pleased air of one recalling the dictum of a respected friend, "that the plainer the design on a note the more difficult it is to forge it."
All the same the notes are to be called in and replaced.
Business done.—Second reading of Bill giving Government blank cheque for meeting expenses of war carried without debate or division.
Thursday.—PREMIER'S surpassing gift of speech, equally concise and eloquent, never more brilliantly displayed than this afternoon. Proposed Resolution conveying expression of sympathy and admiration for heroic resistance offered by the Belgian Army and people to wanton invasion of their territory. In speech that occupied less than ten minutes in delivery the PREMIER, himself moved to loftiest pitch of righteous indignation, touched deepest feelings of a crowded House.
Referring to Great Britain's intervention in "a quarrel in which it had no direct concern," he pointed out that the country threw away the scabbard only when confronted by necessity of choice between keeping and breaking solemn obligations, between the discharge of a binding trust and a shameless subservience.
A deep-throated cheer approved his emphatic declaration, "We do not repent our decision."
Cheers rang forth again when in another fine passage he said, "The Belgians have won for themselves the immortal glory which belongs to a people who prefer freedom to ease, to security, even to life itself. We are proud of their alliance and their friendship. We salute them with respect and honour. We are with them heart and soul."
Difficult to follow outburst of genuine eloquence like this, delivered with thrilling force. BONAR LAW in equally brief speech voiced hearty acquiescence of Opposition in Resolution. JOHN REDMOND, associating Ireland whole-heartedly with it, made practical suggestion, that, instead of lending Belgium ten millions as proposed, we should hand the money over to her as a free gift, an instalment of a just debt.
Business done.—More Emergency Bills advanced by stages. Ominous hint of fresh taxation dropped by CHANCELLOR.
* * * * *
Illustration: FOR NEUTRAL CONSUMPTION.
* * * * *
Illustration: GERMAN KAISER. "We are not satisfied with Our moustache; it seems to need support on the Eastern side."
* * * * *
THE WAR SPIRIT
DEAREST DAPHNE,—There was a big party of us at the Clackmannans' Scotch place, Blairbinkie, when all these fearful things began to happen—and now where are we all? The Flummery boys and ever so many more of the party are at the front with their regiments. The Duke of Clackmannan is at the head of the Clackmannan Yeomanry. Norty's gone off to help take care of the East coast, and it's lucky to have him helping to protect it and keep watch, for if there's anybody who could see things coming sooner than anybody else it's Norty!
Stella, Beryl, Babs and your Blanche are all back in Town, and when we're not taking lessons in nursing we're sewing at flannel. I make Yvonne do my hair quite, quite plainly, and I'm giving my jewels to my country. I've already given my dear collar of pearls. I gave that first because I love it best of all my jewels, because it can never be replaced, and because pearls suit me better than any other stone.
All our first fingers are covered with pricks and look immensely horrid, but we glory in it and won't even put any cold cream on them! As I said yesterday afternoon, when we were all sewing away at flannel, if any woman, I don't care who, offered me her hand and I saw that the first finger was smooth I'd refuse to take it! Beryl must needs weigh in with, "But, my dear Blanche, she wouldn't offer you her left hand! It's the left forefinger that gets punished in needlework." "The principle is the same," I answered coldly. "And besides, some people are left-handed." Beryl has decent qualities, I know, and one doesn't want to find fault with anyone just now, but she was always like that—and her hemming, dearest!
Babs is wild to go to the front, but I say she'd be only a nuisance until she knows more about nursing. Someone told me the other day, a propos of untrained women going to the front and hindering instead of helping, that during the last war a poor dear in one of the hospitals had his hair parted fifty times in an hour by fifty different people, and nearly got brain-fever.
There was a man in the party at Blairbinkie who, before we were at war, talked fervidly of what he should do for his country if trouble came. I had not liked Hector Swankington the least little bit before that, but when he said that, in the event of war, he would raise a troop at his own expense, call it "Swankington's Horse" and lead it himself "wherever the fighting was hottest," I thought I'd not done him justice. So I listened to him and approved and encouraged the plan. And then the storm burst and we all scattered. The other morning I met him in the Park when I was taking my early walk. He asked if I would dine with him some evening at the "Iridescent," and I said it was not a time for dining at restaurants. "No," he agreed, "it certainly isn't now all the French cooks are gone; and what an idiotic idea this is about reducing the number of courses at dinner! Silly rot, I call it!"
I ignored this and asked, "What about 'Swankington's Horse'?"
"Oh! that's all off," he said huffily. "I wrote to the authorities about raising the troop, asked what State recognition I should get, and enclosed a drawing of the hat I meant to wear as leader—a ripping scheme, turned up at one side and with a bunch of feathers. All the answer I got was a few brief words of acknowledgment and a request to set about it at once and report myself somewhere or other. Not a word of the State recognition I was to receive, and the drawing of the hat returned with 'Not approved' scrawled across it. So I've chucked the whole business. And now don't let us talk of that any more!"
I gave him my freezing look (you've never seen my freezing look, dearest—it's terrible!) and I said with a little calm deadly manner that I very, very seldom use, "I've no wish to talk to you of that—or of anything else—ever again." And I left him.
The party at Blairbinkie that scattered almost as soon as it assembled was by way of being a farewell to the old place, for the Clackmannans had virtually sold it to a Mr. Spragg, of Pittsburg. He was going to have the old castle taken across in bits and set up again in Pennsylvania; and he was taking all the family portraits, the mausoleum, the old trees in the park and the stags at a valuation, as well as the village itself with all its cottages and people, in order that the castle might have its proper setting out there. There were two more things he wanted included in the bargain—a village idiot and a family ghost ("hereditary spectre," he called it).
Ah, my dear! all this belongs to the happy old days of a hundred years ago, when we were all three or four weeks younger. The man from Pittsburg, so far from being able to buy Blairbinkie, hardly knows where to look for his next meal, and as for shipping castles and trees and mausoleums and village idiots and family ghosts across the Atlantic he only wishes he could get himself across, even if he had to work his passage!
Josiah is at the uttermost ends of the earth. He went in June, about rubber-mines or oil-concessions, I'm not sure which. I had a cable from him the other day from a place that began with "Boo" and ended with "atty"—I forget what came between. He told me not to be anxious, that he'd get back when and how he could. My answer was, "Not anxious. Wherever you are you'd better stay there, or you may get taken prisoner by those creatures, and then I'd never forgive you!"
Talking of prisoners reminds me of a rumour about the Bullyon-Boundermeres. They were cruising somewhere in their new big steam-yacht when war broke out, and now there's a report that the enemy have taken the yacht and turned it into a cruiser; that the Bullyon-Boundermere people are prisoners on board, and that they're making her wash dishes and forcing him to work as a stoker or a bulkhead or some fearful thing of that kind! This is not official, my dear, but I give it you for what it's worth.
I called a little meeting here yesterday about a scheme of mine. Beryl and Babs and your Blanche and several more of us are really crack shots, and I want to form us into a band of rifle-women and ask the Powers that be to let us guard some important place—a bridge or a bank or a powder magazine. We should wear a distinctive uniform, and we wouldn't let anyone come near! Babs said she hoped the uniform would be smart and becoming, but I soon shut her up. "This is not a time to think of cut or colour," I told her. "Myself, I shouldn't care how my uniform was cut—even if the shoulder seams were at the elbows. And as for colour I'd wear grass-green, though it's a colour in which I look a mere fiend, if it would help my country!" And Beryl and Babs cried and kissed me.
Ever thine, BLANCHE.
* * * * *
Illustration: The Lady of the House, "JUST THE PERSON I WANTED TO SEE. I'VE STARTED TEN COMMITTEES IN CONNECTION WITH THE WAR AND I WANT YOUR HELP."
Visitor. "MY DEAR! I'VE JUST STARTED TWELVE AND I SIMPLY COUNTED ON YOU!"
* * * * *
"The Suez Canal has brought St. Helena much closer than in Napoleonic days."
In the same way the opening of the Panama Canal has made Heligoland much more adjacent than in Lord SALISBURY'S days.
* * * * *
ODE TO JOHN BRADBURY.
(The new notes for L1 and 10s. are signed by JOHN BRADBURY.)
When the Red KAISER, swoll'n with impious pride And stuffed with texts to serve his instant need, Took Shame for partner and Disgrace for guide, Earned to the full the hateful traitor's meed, And bade his hordes advance Through Belgium's cities towards the fields of France; And when at last our patient island race, By the attempted wrong Made fierce and strong, Flung back the challenge in the braggart's face, Oh then, while martial music filled the air, Clarion and fife and bagpipe and the drum, Calling to men to muster, march, and dare, Oh, then thy day, JOHN BRADBURY, was come.
JOHN BRADBURY, the Muse shall fill my strain To sing thy praises; thou hadst spent thy time Not idly, nor hadst lived thy life in vain, Unfitted for the guerdon of my rhyme. For lo, the Funds went sudden crashing down, And men grew pale with monetary fear, And in the toppling mart The stoutest heart Melted, and fortunes seemed to disappear; And some, forgetting their austere renown, Went mad and sold Whate'er they could and wildly called for Gold!
"Since through no fault of ours the die was cast We shall go forth and fight In death's despite And shall return victorious at the last; But how, ah how," they said, "Shall we and ours be fed And clothed and housed from dreary day to day, If, while our hearths grow cold, we have no coin to pay?"
Then thou, where no gold was and little store Of silver, didst appear and wave thy pen, And with thy signature Make things secure, Bidding us all pluck up our hearts once more And face our foolish fancied fears like men. "I give you notes," you said, "of different kinds To ease your anxious minds: The one is black and shall be fairly found Equal in value to a golden pound; The other—mark its healthy scarlet print— Is worth a full half-sovereign from the Mint."
Thus didst thou speak—at least I think thou didst— And, lo, the murmurs fell And all things went right well, While thy notes fluttered in our happy midst. Therefore our grateful hearts go forth to thee, Our British note-provider, brave JOHN BRADBURY!
R. C. L.
* * * * *
"BELGIUM.—Can any member let me know as to what kind of weather to expect in Belgium towards the end of October, and as to the condition of the roads? I and my wife propose going a tandem tour at that time in the Ardennes, Luxembourg, etc. Are most of the hotels shut for the season at that time? Would the north of France be preferable?—G. J."—C. T. C. Gazette.
This gentleman is evidently particular. We are half afraid he will not get quite what he wants.
* * * * *
THE COLUMN OF ADVENTURE.
Even The Times' "agony column," my staple reading during toast-and-marmalade, suffers from the all-pervading war. Old friends have dropped out of the column on its war march. No longer does the Young Gentleman yearning for the idyllic life call on the charitable to provide him with a year of perfect ease, comfort and luxury. I had hoped to meet him some day, to draw out his confidences, perchance to edit his memoirs. "My Check is My Fortune" would be a catchy title. But apparently the War has put him out of business. The idyllic life has gone. Another victim.
His place is being filled by the Sportsman, eager to be up and shooting—partridges. "Either singly or with a house party," he offers. He asks only for board, lodging and ammunition. These provided, he is willing to go for the enemy all September and October.
Another Sportsman, humbler in aspiration, is prepared to specialise on rabbits. He is ready to continue the fight until "Peace terms dictated in Berlin by Allies."
There has also arisen the Professional Rescuer. He offers to go abroad—for a cash consideration—and smuggle back stranded relatives. He does not give particulars of personal appearance, but one may imagine him as essentially Williamlequeuish—small dark moustache, super-shrewd eyes, Homburg hat, a revolver in every pocket, speaking six languages more fluently than the natives, and on terms of intimacy with half the diplomats of Europe. He would open his conversation with a casual: "The last time I was chatting with the KAISER (I shall, of course, cut him in future)...."
Another occupation has been called into being by the War. It is that of Berth-Snatcher. He is apparently a City man who has realised all his securities and invested them in berths and staterooms on Atlantic Liners. These he now offers "at a small bonus"—exact amount unstated.
Also interesting is the occupation of Amateur Adviser. He has much well-intentioned advice to offer to all and sundry: "To the War Office. It is hoped that something is being done regarding," etc. Or: "Japan, our Ally, could easily lend us half a million men."
Presumably the Amateur Adviser has been denied place in the correspondence columns.
The Young Hungarian Nobleman, whose remittances have been stopped by the war, is reminiscent of the original yearner for the idyllic life. "Is supposed to be of good appearance," he states with obtrusive modesty.
But the romantic halo around these young aristocrats is rather tarnished by the Young French Vicomte. When he advertises that he "would thankfully accept some clothes from English or American gentlemen," one suspects a snug little second-hand business somewhere in savoury Soho.
* * * * *
From a letter in The Bristol Evening Times:—
"Only last evening I was passing through one of our main thoroughfares, and saw seven or eight Territorials taking refreshment in the backbone. I ask in fairness, Is this the backbone. I ask in fairness, is this patriotic?"
In fairness we reply. It is neither.
* * * * *
"The old Latinist has it, 'Deos vult pedere prius dementas.'"
How one's Latin slips from one with advancing age! But he must have been very old.
* * * * *
"The Scheldt can easily be damned."—Daily Chronicle.
So can the KAISER, but it isn't enough to say so.
* * * * *
Illustration: Ex-Teuton (to landlady). "ACH! MADAME, EET IS ALL RIGHT! I VOS ENGLEESH NOW! I HAVE TO-DAY MEIN PAPERS OF NATIONALIZATION TO YOUR HOME OFFICE SENT OFF. DERE VOS SEVERAL OATHS BY HALF-A-DOZEN PEOPLES TO BE SVORN. IT VOS A TREMENDOUS AFFAIRS!"
* * * * *
Once upon a time, many years ago—how many I cannot say, but certainly it must have been before the Christian era—there lived a sublime Emperor. After being for long the warmest, if platonic, friend of Peace, and forcing the world to listen to his loud protestations of fidelity, he suddenly surprised his hearers by declaring war.
It was shortly after the opening of hostilities that he was seated on his throne presenting awards of merit to the bravest of his brave soldiers. The hall was filled with martial enthusiasm, and the memorable scene was one in which splendour, animation and the confidence of rectitude were equally notable.
The Emperor's noble Vizier, to whose massive mind treaties were of no more consequence than waste paper, stood at the side of his Imperial Master to act as introducer of the gallant soldiers whose exploits (with which the world was ringing) it had been decided to reward although so early in the campaign—pour encourager les autres.
"The first decorations," remarked the Vizier, "are for deeds of signal courage."
He motioned to a stalwart warrior. "This noble son of the Empire," he said, "with his own bow shot six non-combatants within as many minutes."
Loud cheers rent the air.
"Three of them," the Vizier continued, "were women."
"The other three were old men over seventy."
"This determined hacker-through," the Vizier continued, as another giant stood forth, "shot an unarmed priest."
"And," added the Vizier, "burned his temple."
Amid the plaudits of the flower of the Stale the monarch affixed the cherished tokens to the heroes' breasts. "My Braves!" he exclaimed. "In the name of the Fatherland I thank you."
Another warrior stepped out and saluted.
"And what, my friend," asked the monarch, "did you do?"
"Nothing, Sire," he replied with the unaffected simplicity of the man of action; "I merely stamped on some little children—twins, I think."
"Two medals for that," said the Emperor with ready wit, and there was not a wet eye as he placed them in their proud position.
The Vizier beckoned to a youthful officer on whose lip the down was hardly yet visible. But though young in years he was already every inch a soldier of his country.
"This gallant gentleman," said the Vizier, "unaided, and at great personal risk, shot a baby in arms."
"In arms?" asked the monarch sharply. "Surely that mitigates the heroism?"
"I meant in its mother's arms," the Vizier hastily explained.
"Ah!" said the Emperor with a sigh of relief, "that reassures me." And amid profound excitement he embraced the soldier, pinned the coveted badge to his breast and bade him quickly return to the front to carry on the great work.
"The next reward is for resource in emergency," said the master of ceremonies an hour or so later.
He beckoned to a superb officer, splendid in his trappings—a blue-eyed colossus of nearly six-feet-six.
"This highborn Captain," said the Vizier, "snatched some women from their beds and pushed them before his men so that the enemy should not shoot."
The hall resounded with applause.
"'Twas a brilliant thought," said the Emperor. "Not only will we decorate him for intelligence, but for valour."
"The last is for chivalry, Sire," said the master of the ceremonies, indicating the remaining award.
An officer stood forth.
"This warrior," said the Vizier, "ordered his men to trample down some public flower-beds in the enemy's capital."
"Bravely done," said the Emperor. "A great and imaginative lesson. We'll learn them to resist invasion!"
Amid renewed demonstrations of loyalty and fervour the Emperor brought the proceedings to a close.
"Among so many deeds of valour," he said, "I find it impossible to say which is the most splendid. All are glorious. I am in a position to assure you that Heaven is proud of you. The Fatherland also is proud of you, and, above all, I am proud of you. May the blessings of Heaven continue to fall upon our great and merciful campaign for the right!"
With these words the proceedings terminated and the heroes hurried back to the fighting line, eager to win more laurels by similar feats of culture.
* * * * *
SIDELIGHTS ON THE WAR.
It is frequently remarked that the present war will be far-reaching in its consequences. The truth of this is apparent from the following notices, gathered at random from the column of "Personal Paragraphs" which the Editor of The Shrimpington-on-Sea Gazette publishes weekly, without charge, thereby earning the reputation of a patriot:—
IN CONSEQUENCE OF the present crisis in the Money Market, Mrs. Pincham desires to give notice that she hereby disclaims all liability for any debts contracted by her at Bridge, and the same will not be paid.
THIS IS TO SAY THAT, owing to the war and my pocket-money being stopped because I broke the dining-room window, if Jackson Minor does not pay me the balance of sixpence remaining for his half-share of the white rabbit we both bought last term, his half of the rabbit will be sold and the proceeds kept by the undersigned, SMITH TERTIUS.
LADY STRAITER regrets to be obliged to announce that, in consequence of the perilous financial situation in Europe, she will be forced to discontinue her subscription of 2s. 6d. per annum to the Society for the Relief of Distressed Dustmen.
MR. ALURED DE MORTIMER TALBOT-HOWARD-ST. MAUR begs to inform his many friends and the general public that the above is his real name, and that he is proud to say he is by birth and descent an Englishman. The spiteful rumours which allege that he originally kept a pawnbroker's shop in Hamburg, where his name was Wilhelm Guggelheimer, are merely the inventions of malicious persons who are envious of his property and social position.
As the Shrimpington-on-Sea Golf Course has been entirely ploughed-up (with the exception of the greens) and planted with onions, turnips, cabbages, and beetroot, to increase our national food-supply, all members are requested to play in rubber-soled shoes only during the next two months, so as not to damage the growing crops.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
Illustration: SHOULD THE TELEPHONE BE USED EXCEPT UNDER MEDICAL ADVICE?
Mrs. Martingale Miss LOTTIE VENNE. Dr. Sweette Mr. ERNEST HENDRIE.
Really, the only question to ask oneself of this adaptation from the French is "Is it funny enough?" With so much being offered by the newsboy outside the Vaudeville that is not at all funny, it would be pleasant to find inside the doors a little relief from the world.
I will give the authors the benefit of any doubt I may have felt now and then, and say that My Aunt serves its purpose. In places it made us all laugh a good deal, and I don't think we were prepared to be easily amused; although (for a reason which still escapes me) there was a sudden burst of clapping when Aubrey Braxton announced that he had received an "ultimatum" from Suzanne. The latter part of the Second Act is particularly well worked up, and one remark of Aubrey's to Leslie Tarbolton brought down the house. ("You are the sort of man who would go to call on a sick friend ... and eat his grapes.") The Third Act is terribly padded with things which are not really funny, but it gives us an opportunity of seeing a little more of Miss LOTTIE VENNE, to whom the authors had not previously been generous. (I love Miss VENNE'S voice and I love her manner of waving her arms in the air. It was delightful to see and listen to her again.)
For the best parts of the first two Acts, then; for Miss LOTTIE VENNE'S voice; above all, for Mr. A. W. BASKCOMB'S face, My Aunt is worth while. As Aubrey Braxton Mr. BASKCOMB—the never-to-be-forgotten Slightly of so many Christmasses—goes through all the many troubles of a hero of farce with his own inimitable air of hopeless resignation. I hope that his efforts will not be unrewarded, and that the management will find that, without rivalling the success of that other aunt, Charley's, they will yet for some time be able to play to good "business as usual."
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MR. PUNCH'S HOLIDAY STORIES.
III.—THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY.
[SYNOPSIS OF PRECEDING INSTALMENT:—The great boxing boom is at its height. A fight arranged between Smasher Mike and the famous heavyweight champion. Mauler Mills, is arousing intense excitement throughout the country. Nothing whatever is known of the Smasher, and the betting is therefore 100 to 1 against him. Young Lord Tamerton is at this time in desperate financial straits. His bosom friend, Ralph Wonderson, who is in love with his sister, the beautiful Lady Margaret Tamerton, prevails upon him to wager heavily on Smasher Mike, and undertakes to put him in the way of obtaining a loan of L5,000 for this purpose. Their conversation is overheard by an agent of Sir Ernest Scrivener, alias Marmaduke Moorsdyke, who is the mortal enemy of Wonderson and is plotting to get Lady Margaret Tamerton in his power.]
The vast area of Corinthia was crammed with eager spectators, whose eyes were concentrated with feverish intensity on the raised platform in the centre of the hall. In the seats near the ring, for each of which a hundred guineas had been charged, sat the cream of Britain's aristocracy, including Lord Tamerton and Lady Margaret Tamerton, for whom two tickets in a plain envelope had been left that morning.
At last the preliminaries came to an end and Smasher Mike, clad in a claret-coloured dressing-gown with yellow facings, crawled through the ropes and went to his corner. As he raised his face to the lights a murmur of amazement ran through the hall.
"It's Ralph Wonderson!" Lady Margaret gripped her brother's arm till the perspiration stood out on his forehead.
"It's Ralph Wonderson!" The whisper passed from lip to lip, merging presently into a burst of cheering as Mauler Mills scrambled up to the platform, wearing an electric-blue dressing-gown with green facings and pink sash.
Ralph sat motionless in his corner, watching his gigantic adversary with a pleasant smile and softly whistling the air of a popular song. At length the referee leisurely entered the ring. As he did so, Ralph gave a violent start and Lady Margaret gripped her brother's arm till his teeth chattered. The referee was not the popular Algernon Mittens, as had been announced, but Sir Ernest Scrivener!
Lord Tamerton stared up at the ring with ashen lips. With such an official in charge nothing but a miracle could save Ralph Wonderson from being disqualified in the first round. The House of Tamerton was more utterly ruined than ever.
But in thirty seconds Ralph, trained in many sports to meet all emergencies, had summed up the situation and decided upon his course of action.
The gong sounded and the two pugilists advanced warily towards each other. Suddenly Ralph lashed out a terrific right which, as he intended, missed the Mauler by a foot. Unable, apparently, to retain his balance, he swung completely round with the impetus of the blow, and his clenched fist landed squarely upon the referee's jaw. Sir Ernest shot high over the ropes and crashed down on the Dowager Duchess of Cumbersea, whence he rebounded with terrible force into the arms of the Marquis of Meltington.
After a brief delay all three were removed to the hospital.
* * * * *
The fight, under a new referee, was in its twentieth round. Not a sound could be heard beyond the shuffling of the pugilists' feet and the thud of fist on flesh.
Feinting with his left, the Mauler clinched heavily with his right, but Ralph foiled the attack with a clever half-nelson. Again Mills swung his right, and again Ralph parried the blow, this time by sending his left to the funny-bone and thus paralysing the arm. He then dashed in and uppercut his opponent severely on the occiput. Mauler Mills staggered to the ropes, to which he clung frantically in order to preserve his balance.
A savage roar went up from the crowd, roused now to a pitch of frenzied excitement. "Now you've got him! Finish him! Put him out!" they shouted.
But Ralph, chivalrous as always, drew back, bowed formally to his opponent and quietly awaited his recovery.
Presently, after a courteous enquiry and an assurance from the Mauler that he was quite ready, the pair exchanged a warm handshake and renewed their combat.
Taking a deep breath, Ralph advanced with cat-like tread and flashing eyes upon his adversary. Knowing from painful experience what to expect, the latter circled cautiously away, covering his face with his hands. But Ralph, realising that time was short, determined not to be baffled. Combining the agility of the chamois with the ponderous strength of the hippopotamus, he crouched low and sprang like a tiger through the air upon the unhappy Mauler, striking him full on the solar plexus. White to the lips, the Mauler fell squirming to the floor, while Ralph nonchalantly adjusted a lock of hair which had floated loose.
"One—two—three ..." the voice of the referee was like the voice of inexorable Fate ... "four—five—six ..." Lady Margaret gripped her brother's arm till his hair stood on end ... "seven—eight ..." The Countess of Snecks fainted with a loud shriek ... "nine—Out"!
The great fight was won. The House of Tamerton was saved.
Clad in his claret-coloured dressing-gown, the new champion pressed his fiancee against the yellow facings and stroked her fair hair fondly with his boxing-gloves.
"My little wife!" he whispered.
And the vast area of Corinthia rang with emotional cheers.
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Illustration: Sentry (suddenly appearing). "HALT! WHO GOES THERE?"
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Far too rarely does the conscientious reviewer enjoy such a chance as has come to me now, a chance to let himself go in the matter of praise without stint or reservation. As a reward doubtless for some of my many unrecorded good deeds, there has come into my hands a slender volume called Naval Occasions (BLACKWOOD), which seems to me to be the most entirely satisfactory and, indeed, fascinating thing of its kind that ever I read. The writer chooses for his own sufficient reasons to disguise himself as "BARTIMEUS," and under that name I have to ask him to accept my very sincere gratitude. The little book contains twenty-five sketches, mostly quite short, relating to (I quote its text, taken from the Articles of War) "the Navy, whereon, under the good Providence of God, the wealth, safety, and strength of the Kingdom chiefly depend." Never surely did a book appear so aptly. At a moment like this, when the dullest collection of naval facts can stir the pulse, such pages as these, full of the actual life and work of the men who are safeguarding us all, deserve a public as vast as the Empire itself. The appeal of them is amazing, for their art is of so concealed a quality that the writing seems simplicity itself. To say that they bring the atmosphere of salt winds and the tang of the sea, is nothing; a skilful novel about Margate sands would deserve this praise; it is in their humanity that the charm lies, the sense of courage and comradeship and high endeavour that is in every one of them. You will laugh often as you read; and sometimes, quite suddenly, you will find yourself with a prickly feeling at the back of the eyes, because of the tears that are in these things; but they are the proud kind, never the sloppily sentimental. And at the end I am mistaken in you if you do not close the book with the rare and moving sensation that you have found something of which you can say, as I myself did, "This is absolutely It!"
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Amongst the thousands of helpful suggestions for the conduct of war which have recently filled the columns of the daily press, I do not remember having seen any scheme for supplying the officers of the Allied Armies with an Irish terrier apiece. And yet if MARIE VON VORST is to be trusted, this is a very serious omission, for, had it not been for Pitchoune, I fear that the gallant hero of His Love Story (MILLS AND BOON) would have perished in the Sahara and never have won the lady of his heart. The Comte de Sabron was forbidden by his military orders to take a dog with him to Algiers, but Pitchoune ran all the way from Tarascon to Marseilles and jumped into the boat. Subsequently, when his master was lying wounded in the desert, he tracked down the nearest native village—twelve hours away—and barked till they sent out a relief expedition. A boy scout could not do more, and, though my own experience of Irish terriers has led me to think that they do not spend over much time in the study of ordnance maps, yet for sentiment's sake, and because His Love Story is a charmingly written romance, I am ready to believe in all the feats of Pitchoune, and even to hope that he will not after all be de trop now that M. le Comte is happily wedded, but may have another brilliantly successful campaign in front of him.
* * * * *
Although Mrs. PENROSE'S new novel, Something Impossible (MILLS AND BOON), gaily admits in its title its difficulties, I cannot pretend that I consider her to have made the most of her opportunity. There are at least two classic examples of her theme, Mr. ANSTEY'S Vice Versa and Mr. DE LA MARE'S Return. Mrs. PENROSE cannot approach either the charming humour of the one or the delicate beauty of the other. On a lower plane her story has its amusing moments, and there is a vein of real tenderness in her picture of the relations of her hero and his faithful lady—a happy relief after the monotonous repetition of matrimonial infidelities dealt out to us by the average novel. It will be a consolation also to many readers to discover that plain people are far more popular than handsome ones and that to "have features of classical beauty" is the most unfortunate of handicaps in the race for comfort and success. Mrs. PENROSE, like many other women novelists, is very cruel to her own sex and never misses an opportunity of exposing its shallow sentiments and transient affections. But why are all novelists of to-day so merciless to the provincial town? There must be some pleasant people in Cathedral cities. I am weary of retired colonels with port-stained faces, and vinegary old maids, and unctuous canons. Mrs. PENROSE has shown in her earlier books so real a sense of beauty and so touching a spirit of kindliness that I am bound to confess that, with the exception of her treatment of her hero, this rather acid and ironical piece of nonsense is a disappointment.
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Illustration: The Small Man. "IF I WAS AS WELL SET UP AS YOU I'D GO AND FIGHT FOR MY COUNTRY, I WOULD!"
The Large Man. "NO GOOD, MATE, I'VE TRIED IT. TOLD ME AT THE WAR OFFICE I WOULD SPOIL THE UNIFORM APPEARANCE OF ANY REGIMENT, SO I'M WAITIN' TILL THEY RAISE A CORPS OF CINEMA GUARDS."
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From the Emperor of AUSTRIA'S telegram to WILHELM II.:
"Words fail to express what moves me, and with me my army, in these days of the world's history."
The word "Servia" might express what moves his army.
* * * * *
The Scotsman on the condition of things in Norway:—
"Food supplies and rents are controlled by the Government, and spirits and wines cannot be purchased. Most of the English people have now left Norway."
For other reasons, we hope.
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"PLEASURE TOURS.—St. Petersburg from London via Kiel Canal."
Advt. in "Times."
Take your camera with you, and snap the jolly little German battleships as you go past. The result of the recent fight off Heligoland should increase your popularity.