OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
August 1, 1917.
The Imperial aspirations of KING FERDINAND are discussed by a Frankfort paper in an article entitled "What Bulgaria wants." Significantly enough the ground covered is almost identical with the subject-matter of an unpublished article of our own, entitled "What Bulgaria won't get."
The cow which walked down sixteen stairs into a cellar at Willesden is said to have been the victim of a false air-raid warning.
"In Scotland," says Mr. BARNES'S report on Industrial Unrest, "the subject of liquor restrictions was never mentioned." Some thoughts are too poignant for utterance.
According to the statement of a German paper "A Partial Crisis" threatens Austria. One of these days we feel sure something really serious will happen to that country.
The Medical Officer of the L.C.C. estimates that in 1916 the total water which flowed under London Bridge was 875,000,000,000 gallons. It is not known yet what is to be done about it.
The Army Council has forbidden the sale of raffia in the United Kingdom. Personally we never eat the stuff.
Nature Notes: A white sparrow has been seen in Huntingdon; a well-defined solar halo has been observed in Hertfordshire, and Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL was noticed the other day reading The Morning Post.
A boy of eighteen told the Stratford magistrate that he had given up his job because he only got twenty-five shillings a week. He will however continue to give the War his moral support.
The Austrian EMPEROR has told the representative of The Cologne Gazette that he "detests war." If not true this is certainly a clever invention on KARL'S part.
We feel that the public need not have been so peevish because the experimental siren air-raid warning was not heard by everybody in London. They seem to overlook the fact that full particulars of the warning appeared next morning in the papers.
A man who obtained two hundred-weight of sugar from a firm of ship-brokers has been fined ten pounds at Glasgow. Some curiosity exists as to the number of ships he had to purchase in order to secure that amount of sugar.
A London magistrate has held that tea and dinner concerts in restaurants are subject to the entertainment tax. This decision will come as a great shock to many people who have always regarded the music as an anaesthetic.
The no-tablecloths order has caused great perturbation among the better-class hotel-keepers in Berlin. Does the Government, they ask sarcastically, expect their class of patron to wipe their mouths on their shirt-cuffs?
The chairman of the House of Commons' Tribunal complains that while cats drink milk as usual they no longer catch mice. This however may easily be remedied if the FOOD-CONTROLLER will meet them halfway on the question of dilution.
The public has been warned by Scotland Yard against a man calling himself Sid Smith. We wouldn't do it ourselves, of course, but we are strongly opposed to the police interfering in what is after all purely a matter of personal taste.
The bones of ST. GEORGE have been discovered near Beersheba in Palestine by members of our Expeditionary Force. This should dispel the popular delusion which has always ascribed the last resting-place of England's patron saint to the present site of the Mint.
"War bread will keep for a week," stated Mr. CLYNES for the Ministry of Food. Of course you can keep it longer if you are collecting curios.
It is announced that all salaries in the German Diplomatic Service have been reduced. We always said that frightfulness didn't really pay.
German women have been asked to place their hair at the disposal of the authorities. If they do not care to sacrifice their own hair they can just send along the handful or two which they collect in the course of waiting in the butter queue.
Hamlet has been rendered by amateur actors at the Front, all scenery being dispensed with. If you must dispense with one or the other, why not leave out the acting?
"To assist in the breaking-up of grass-land," we are told, "the Board of Agriculture proposes to allocate a number of horses to agricultural counties." The idea of allocating some of our incurable golfers to this purpose does not appear to have suggested itself to our slow-witted authorities.
"I have resigned because there is no further need for my services," said Mr. KENNEDY-JONES. Several politicians are of the opinion that this was not a valid reason.
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AN EXPANSIVE SMILE.
"SIX HUNDRED SQUARE MILES. BRITISH GAINS SINCE LAST YEAR."—The Statesman (India).
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The Berlin Tageblatt says that HERR MIHAELIS in the critical passages measured his words "as carefully as if they were meat rations." A wise precaution, in view of the likelihood that he would have to eat them.
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From a Cinema advertisement:—
"KEEPS YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS THROUGHOUT THE FIVE ACTS OF A STORY THAT UNFOLDS ITSELF MIDST THE ROMANTIC PURLOINS OF ITALY AND ENGLAND."—Austrian Paper.
We gather that the scene is laid in the thieves' quarter.
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TO WILLIAM AT THE BACK OF THE GALICIAN FRONT.
Once more you follow in Bellona's train, (Her train de luxe) in search of cheap reclame; Once more you flaunt your rearward oriflamme, A valiant eagle nosing out the slain.
Not to the West, where RUPPRECHT stands at bay, Hard pushed with hounds of England at his throat, And WILLIE'S chance grows more and more remote Of breaking hearts along The Ladies' Way;
But to the East you go, for easier game, Where traitors to their faith desert the fight, And better men than yours are swept in flight By coward Anarchy that sells her shame.
For here, by favour of your new allies, You'll see recovered all you lost of late, When, tried in open combat, fair and straight, Your Huns were flattened out like swatted flies.
Well, make the most of this so timely boom, For Russia yet may cut the cancer out— Her heart is big enough—and turn about Clean-limbed and strong and terrible as doom.
But, though she fail us in the final test, Not there, not there, my child, the end shall be, But where, without your option, France and we Have made our own arrangements further West.
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He dropped in to tea, quite casually; forced an entry through the mud wall of our barn, in fact. No, he wouldn't sit down—expected to be leaving in a few minutes; but he didn't mind if he did have a sardine, and helped himself to the tinful. Yes, a bit of bully, thanks, wouldn't be amiss; and a nice piece of coal; cockchafers very good too when, as now, in season; and, for savoury, a little nibble with a yard of tarred string and an empty cardboard cigarette-box. Thank you very much.
"Why, the little brute's a perfect dustbin," said my mate; and "Dustbin" the puppy was throughout his stay with us.
For six weeks did Dustbin—attached for rations and discipline—accompany us on our sanitary rounds; set us a fine example of indifference to shell fire, even to the extent of attempting to catch spent shrapnel as it fell; and proved the wettest of wet blankets to the "socials" of the local rats. Then, as happens with sanitary inspectors in France, there arrived late one afternoon a despatch requesting the pleasure of my society—in five hours' time—at a village some twenty kilos distant as the shell flies. I found I should have fifteen minutes in which to pack, four hours for my journey, and forty-five minutes between the packing and the start in which to find a home for Dustbin.
"Take the little dorg off you?" said a Sergeant acquaintance in the D.A.C. "I couldn't, Corp'l. Why, I don't even know how I'm goin' to take the foal yonder"—he glared reproachfully at a placid Clydesdale mare and her tottering one-day-old; "and 'ow I'm goin' to take my posh breeches—"
I left him hovering despondently over his equipment and a pile of dirty linen.
We tried the M.G.C. We were on the best of terms and always had been; they said so. They apologised in advance for the insanitary conditions I might find; inquired after my health; offered me some coffee and generally loved me; but they couldn't love my dog. The Cook even went so far as openly to associate my guileless puppy with a shortage of dried herrings in the sergeants' mess.
Passing through the E.A.M.C. transport lines I rescued Dustbin from a hulking native mongrel wearing an identity disc. I judged the Ambulance would not be wanting another dog; but there was still hope with the Salvage Company.
The Salvagier whom I met upon the threshold of the "billet" (half a limber load of bricks and an angle iron) was quite sure the Salvage Company couldn't take a dog, as they had an infant wild boar and two fox cubs numbering on their strength; but he thought that he could plant my prodigy with a friend of his, a bombardier in the E.G.A., the only other unit within easy distance. We headed for the E.G.A.
It was just at this point that there occurred one of those little incidents so dear to the comic draughtsman, but less popular with "us." A moaning howl, a rushing hissing sound, a moment of tense and awful silence, a devastating crash, and the E.G.A. officers' bath-house, "erected at enormous trouble and expense" by a handful of T.U. men and myself the day before, soared heavenwards with an acre or two of the surrounding scenery. "Yes," said the Salvage gentleman as he regained his perpendicular, "as I was sayin', 'is size is in 'is favour (you'd better git down ag'in, Corp'l)—'is size is in 'is favour; 'e'll go in a dixie easy, or even in a—(there's another bit orf the church)—even in a tin 'at, if you fold 'im up, but I'm 'fraid the 'eads ain't much in favour of a dog. Leastways the ole man I know was a member of the Cat Club—took a lot o' prizes at the Crys'l Pala..."
"I think we'd better run this little bit, Corp'l," my guide said suddenly. It was advisable. A sprint along some two hundred yards of what had once been a road, with a stone wall (like a slab of gruyere now, alas) upon our right, and we should once more have the comfortable feeling one always enjoys in a "hot" village when there are houses upon either hand. A trolley load of rations held the middle of the road; the ration party was, I believe, in the ditch upon the left; and a strangled voice exclaimed after each burst, "Oh crummy! I do 'ope they don't 'it the onions."
We gave our forty-seventh impersonation of a pair of starfish, and then legged it for the apparent shelter of the houses. At least I did; the salvage man, less squeamish, found a haven in an adjacent cookhouse grease-trap and dust-shoot. I listened intently, but it was only the falling of spent shrapnel, not the patter of Dustbin's baby but quite enormous feet. A stove-pipe belching smoke and savoury fumes protruded itself through the pavement on my right. Through the chinks in the gaping slabs there came the ruddy flicker that bespoke a "home from home" beneath my feet; and then, still listening for signs of Dustbin, I heard—
"Didn't I tell you, Erb, to stop up that extra ventilation 'ole with somethin'?—and now look wot's blown in. 'Ere, steady on, ole man; that's got to last four men for three days."
"Well, I'm ——," chimed in another voice, "if the bloomin' tin ain't empty. Why, I only just opened it—that's a 'ole Maconochie 'e's got inside 'im, not countin' wot you've just.... Poor little beggar must be starvin'. You're welcome to stop and share our grub, young feller, but I've got to go on p'rade wiv that—that's a belt, that is...."
I turned towards the dimly lighted road that led to —— [Censored]. Dustbin had found a home.
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The scene is a School of Instruction at the back of the Western Front set in a valley of green meadows bordered by files of plumy poplars and threaded through by a silver ribbon of water.
On the lazy afternoon breeze come the concerted yells of a bayonet class, practising frightfulness further down the valley; also the staccato chatter of Lewis guns punching holes in the near hill-side.
In the centre of one meadow is a turf manege. In the centre of the manege stands the villain of the piece, the Riding-Master.
He wears a crown on his sleeve, tight breeches, jack-boots, vicious spurs and sable moustachios. His right hand toys with a long, long whip, his left with his sable moustachios. He looks like DIAVOLO, the lion-tamer, about to put his man-eating chums through hoops of fire.
His victims, a dozen Infantry officers, circle slowly round the manege. They are mounted on disillusioned cavalry horses who came out with WELLINGTON and know a thing or two. Now and again they wink at the Riding-Master and he winks back at them.
The audience consists of an ancient Gaul in picturesque blue pants, whose metier is to totter round the meadows brushing flies off a piebald cow; the School Padre, who keeps at long range so that he may see the sport without hearing the language, and ten little gamins, who have been splashing in the silver stream and are now sitting drying on the bank like ten little toads.
They come every afternoon, for never have they seen such fun, never since the great days before the War when the circus with the boxing kangaroo and the educated porks came to town.
Suddenly the Riding-Master clears his throat. At the sound thereof the horses cock their ears and their riders grab handfuls of leather and hair.
R.-M. "Now, gentlemen, mind the word. Gently away tra-a-a-at." The horses break into a slow jog-trot and the cavaliers into a cold perspiration. The ten little gamins cheer delightedly.
R.-M. "Sit down, sit up, 'ollow yer backs, keep the hands down backs foremost, even pace. Number Two, Sir, 'ollow yer back; don't sit 'unched up like you'd over-ate yourself. Number Seven, don't throw yerself about in that drunken manner, you'll miss the saddle altogether presently, coming down—can't expect the 'orse to catch you every time.
"Number Three, don't flap yer helbows like an 'en; you ain't laid an hegg, 'ave you?
"'Ollow yer backs, 'eads up, 'eels down; four feet from nose to croup.
"Number One, keep yer feet back, you'll be kickin' that mare's teeth out, you will.
"Come down off 'is 'ead, Number Seven; this ain't a monkey 'ouse.
"Keep a light an' even feelin' of both reins, backs of the 'ands foremost, four feet from nose to croup.
"Leggo that mare's tail, Number Seven; you're goin', not comin', and any'ow that mare likes to keep 'er tail to 'erself. You've upset 'er now, the tears is fair streamin' down 'er face—'ave a bit of feelin' for a pore dumb beast.
"'Ollow yer backs, even pace, grip with the knees, shorten yer reins, four feet from nose to croup. Number Eight, restrain yerself, me lad, restrain yerself, you ain't shadow-sparrin', you know.
"You too, Number Nine; if you don't calm yer action a bit you'll burst somethin'.
"Now, remember, a light feelin' of the right rein and pressure of the left leg. Ride—wa-a-alk! Ri'—tur-r-rn! 'Alt—'pare to s'mount—s'mount! Dismount, I said, Number Five; that means get down. No, don't dismount on the flat of yer back, me lad, it don't look nice. Try to remember you're an horfficer and be more dignified.
"Now listen to me while I enumerate the parts of a norse in language so simple any bloomin' fool can understand. This'll be useful to you, for if you ever 'ave a norse to deal with and he loses one of 'is parts you'll know 'ow to indent for a new one.
"The 'orse 'as two ends, a fore-end—so called from its tendency to go first, and an 'ind-end or rear rank. The 'orse is provided with two legs at each end, which can be easily distinguished, the fore legs being straight and the 'ind legs 'avin' kinks in 'em.
"As the 'orse does seventy-five per cent. of 'is dirty work with 'is 'ind-legs it is advisable to keep clear of 'em, rail 'em off or strap boxing-gloves on 'em. The legs of the 'orse is very delicate and liable to crock up, so do not try to trim off any unsightly knobs that may appear on them with a hand-axe—a little of that 'as been known to spoil a norse for good.
"Next we come to the 'ead. On the south side of the 'ead we discover the mouth. The 'orse's mouth was constructed for mincing 'is victuals, also for 'is rider to 'ang on by. As the 'orse does the other forty-five per cent. of 'is dirty work with 'is mouth it is advisable to stand clear of that as well. In fact, what with his mouth at one end and 'is 'ind-legs at t'other, the middle of the 'orse is about the only safe spot, and that is why we place the saddle there. Everything in the Harmy is done with a reason, gentlemen.
"And now, Number Ten, tell me what coloured 'orse you are ridin'?
"A chestnut? No 'e ain't no chestnut and never was, no, nor a raspberry roan neither; 'e's a bay. 'Ow often must I tell you that a chestnut 'orse is the colour of lager beer, a brown 'orse the colour of draught ale, and a black 'orse the colour of stout.
"And now, gentlemen, stan' to yer 'orses, 'pare to mount—mount!
"There you go, Number Seven, up one side and down the other. Try to stop in the saddle for a minute if only for the view. You'll get yourself 'urted one of these days dashing about all over the 'orse like that; and 'sposing you was to break your neck, who'd get into trouble? Me, not you. 'Ave a bit of consideration for other people, please.
"Now mind the word. Ride—ri'—tur-r-rn. Walk march. Tr-a-a-at. Helbows slightly brushing the ribs—your ribs, not the 'orse's, Number Three.
"Shorten yer reins, 'eels down, 'eads up, 'ollow yer backs, four feet from nose to croup.
"Get off that mare's neck, Number Seven, and try ridin' in the saddle for a change; it'll be more comfortable for everybody.
"You oughter do cowboy stunts for the movin' pictures, Number Six, you ought really. People would pay money to see you ride a norse upside down like that. Got a strain of wild Cossack blood in you, eh?
"There you are, now you've been and fell off. Nice way to repay me for all the patience an' learning I've given you!
"What are you lyin' there for? Day-dreaming? I s'pose you're goin' to tell me you're 'urted now?' Be writing 'ome to Mother about it next: 'DEAR MA,—A mad mustang 'as trod on me stummick. Please send me a gold stripe. Your loving child, ALGY.'
"Now mind the word. Ride—Can—ter!"
He cracks his whip; the horses throw up their heads and break into a canter; the cavaliers turn pea-green about the chops, let go the reins and clutch saddle-pommels.
The leading horse, a rakish chestnut, finding his head free at last and being heartily fed-up with the whole business, suddenly bolts out of the manege and legs it across the meadow, en route for stables and tea. His eleven mates stream in his wake, emptying saddles as they go.
The ten little gamins dance ecstatically upon the bank, waving their shirts and shrilling "A Berlin! A Berlin!"
The ancient Gaul props himself up against the pie-bald cow and shakes his ancient head. "C'est la guerre," he croaks.
The deserted Riding-Master damns his eyes and blesses his soul for a few moments; then sighs resignedly, takes a cigarette from his cap lining, lights it and waddles off towards the village and his favourite estaminet.
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"Some of these fish have already found their way to Leeds, and, it must be added, have not met with a very cordial reception. Although the fish may be bought at what might be described as an attractive price, they do not appear likely to move for some time."—Yorkshire Paper.
But if the hot weather continues—
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SENSES AND SENSIBILITY.
From Fred Golightly, comedian, to Sinclair Voyle, dramatic critic.
DEAR VOYLE,—I am not one ordinarily to take any notice of remarks that are overheard and reported to me; but there are exceptions to every rule and I am making one now. I was told this evening by a mutual friend and fellow-member that at the Buskin Club, after lunch to-day, in the presence of a number of men, you said that the trouble with me was that I had no sense of humour.
Considering my standing as a comedian, hitherto earning high salaries and occupying the place I do solely by virtue of my comic gifts (as the Press and Public unanimously agree), this disparagement from a man wielding as much power as you do is very damaging. Managers hearing of it as your honest opinion might fight shy of me.
I therefore ask you to withdraw the criticism with as much publicity as it had when you defamed me by making it.
Why you should have made it at all I can't imagine, for I have often seen you laughing in your stall, and we have been friends for many years.
Believe me, yours sincerely but sorrowfully, FRED GOLIGHTLY.
From Sinclair Voyle, dramatic critic, to Fred Golightly, comedian.
DEAR GOLIGHTLY,—You have been misinformed. I didn't say you had no sense of humour; I said you had no sense of honour.
Yours faithfully, SINCLAIR VOYLE.
From Fred Golightly, comedian, to Sinclair Voyle, dramatic critic.
DEAR OLD CHAP,—You can't think how glad I am to have your disclaimer. I disliked having to write to you as I did, after so many years of good fellowship, but you must admit that I had some provocation. It is a pretty serious thing for a man in my position to be publicly singled out by a man in yours as being without a sense of humour. However, your explanation puts everything right, and all's well that ends well. Yours as ever, FRED.
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"PEACE CRANKS AND CROOKS."—Evening Standard.
The right hon. Member for Woolwich objects. He has nothing whatever to do with Ramsayites.
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JIMMY—KILLED IN ACTION.
Horses he loved, and laughter, and the sun, A song, wide spaces and the open air; The trust of all dumb living things he won, And never knew the luck too good to share.
His were the simple heart and open hand, And honest faults he never strove to hide; Problems of life he could not understand, But as a man would wish to die he died.
Now, though he will not ride with us again, His merry spirit seems our comrade yet, Freed from the power of weariness or pain, Forbidding us to mourn—or to forget.
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A LITERAL EPOCH.
That there rumpus i' the village laast Saturday night? Aye, it were summat o' a rumpus, begad! Lor! there aren't bin nothin' like it not since the time when they wuz a-gwain' to burn th' ould parson's effigy thirty-fower year ago (but it niver come off, because 'e up an' offered to contribute to the expenses 'isself, an' that kind o' took the wind out on't).
Ye see, Sir, there's just seven licensed 'ouses i' the village. Disgraceful? Aye, so 'tis, begad!—on'y seven licensed 'ouses—an' I do mind when 'twas pretty nigh one man one pub, as the sayin' is. Howsomever, to-day there's seven, and some goes to one and some goes to totherun.
Well, laast Friday night me an' Tom Figgures an' Bertie Mayo an' Peter Ledbetter an' a lot more on us what goes to Reuben Izod's at The Bell, we come in to 'ave our drink. And, mind you, pretty nigh all on us 'ad a-bin mouldin'-up taters all day, so's to get them finished afore the hay; so us could do wi' a drop. Aye, aye!
Well, fust thing us knowed—no more'n a hour or two after—Mrs. Izod was a-sayin' to old Peter Ledbetter, as 'er set down a fresh pint for 'n, "That's the laast drop o' beer i' the 'ouse," 'er says.
"Whaat!" says Peter, though there warn't no call for 'im to voice the gen'ral sentiments, 'coz you see, Sir, 'e'd a-got the laast pint an' us 'adn't.
"There's a nice drop o' cider, though," says Mrs. Izod. "Leastways, when I says a nice drop, there's a matter o' fifteen gallons, I dessay," 'er says.
"I 'ave drunk cider at a pinch," says Bertie Mayo, cautious-like, "and my ould father, I d' mind, 'e'd used to drink it regular."
"Ah, that 'a did!—an' mine too, and 'is father afore 'un," says Tom Figgures; "but I reckon 'tisn't what 'twas in them days."
"Well, you may do as you'm a-minded 'bout 'avin' it," says Mrs. Izod; "but no more ain't beer what 'twas neether, come to that."
"You'm right there, Missus," says all the rest on us.
An' then Bertie Mayo, 'oo's allus a turr'ble far-seeing sort of chap, 'e says, "Reckon the trolley 'ull be along fust thing i' the marnin' from the brewery, Missus?" An' when Mrs. Izod 'er says as 'er didn't know, but 'twas to be 'oped as 'twud, a sort of a blight settled down on the lot on us, which I reckon is a pretty fair way o' puttin' it, for a blight allus goes 'and-in-'and wi' a drought.
Well, either us finished that evenin' up on cider or us finished the cider up that evenin'—there warn't much in it one way or t'other. An' next day—this bit as I'm a-tellin' you now us niver 'eard tell on till arterwards, but I'm a-tellin' it yeou just as it 'appened—next daay (that were Sat'rday, mind) there was a turr'ble to-do in the arternoon, for there warn't nobbut limonade in the house when them timber-haulin' chaps stopped to waater the engin'. Well, you may reckon!...
An' then, when us come 'ome from work, us found the door o' The Bell shut an' locked, an' "Sold Out" wrote on a piece o' cardboard i' the parlour winder by Reuben Izod's second child! Begad, that was sommut if yeou like! Us stud there a-gyaupin' an' a-gyaupin', till at last Peter Ledbetter give a kick at the door and 'ollers out, "Whatten a gammit do 'ee call this 'ere, Reuben Izod? 'Tis drink us waants, not tickets for the Cook'ry Demonstration." (Turr'ble sarcastic 'e do be sometimes, Peter Ledbetter).
"I aren't got none," says Reuben from be'ind the door.
"Well, cider, then," says Bertie Mayo.
"Tall 'ee I aren't got narrun—beer, cider, nor limonade—nary a drop. 'Tiddn' no manner o' good for you chaps to stan' there. You'd best toddle along up to The Green Dragon an' see if Mas'r Holtom've got any."
Well, bein' as no one iver yet 'eard tell o' one publican tellin' ye to go furder a-fild and get sarved by another publican (savin' as 'twas a drunken man as 'e wanted to be shut on), us was struck so dazed-like as us went along the road wi' never a word. But us 'adn't got 'alfway theer afore us met Johnnie Tarplett, Jim Peyton, and a lot more on 'em all comin' along the road towards we.
"Where be gwain'?" says Johnnie Tarplett.
"Us be gwain' along to The Green Dragon to get a drop o' drink," says Tom Figgures.
"The Green Dragon's shut 'owever," says Johnnie Tarplett. "Us was a-gwain' along—"
"Aye, aye!" us sings out. "So's The Bell shut too!"
Well, then us all took and went along to The Reaper, an' that were shut, an' The Dovedale Arms (which is an oncomfortably superior sort of a 'ouse, dealin' in sperrits) was down to ginger-wine, an' The Crown and The Corner Cupboard an' The Ploughman's Rest was all crowded out an' gettin' down to the bottom o' the casks.
An' then, when us took an' thowt as 'twould be 'ay-makin' next week, an' dry weather all round, us stuud i' the road and spak our thowts out.
"Dom the KEYSER!" says Peter Ledbetter, to gie us a start like.
"Niver knowed sich a thing afore in all my born days," says Bertie Mayo. "Niver knowed The Bell shut yet, not since 'twas first opened six years afore th' ould QUEEN come to the throne."
"Reckon sich a thing niver 'appened afore i' the history o' Dovedale parish," says Johnnie Tarplett.
"Niver since WILL'UM CONQUEROR," says Jim Peyton.
"Niver since NOAH 'isself," says Tom Figgures.
"'Tis a nepoch, look you," says Peter Ledbetter. An' though us didn' know what 'a meant no more'n 'a did 'isself, us were inclined to agree wi 'm. Oh, 'tis a Greek word meanin' a stoppage, is it? Well, if what you say be trew, Peter Ledbetter was right 'owever, an' them Greeks is at the bottom of all the trouble, as I said in The Bell five nights ago—my son bein' at Salonika, as you do know, Sir.
An' arter a bit us all went along home, all on us tryin' to remember what us knowed about home-brewin'. An' if you gentlefolks doan't get your washin' done praperly this wik 'tis along o' the tubs bein' otherwise engaaged.
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"By partial dissembling we are able to offer this high-grade Car at a price within the reach of those desiring the best."—New Zealand Herald.
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"At Ormskirk rejected army horses sold by auction realised L30 to L60. The average was over L30."—Sunday Chronicle.
We always like to have our sums done for us.
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HOW TO UNBOOM OUR HOLIDAY RESORTS.
[In view of the official discouragement of railway-travelling something should be done to eradicate from the minds of the public any favourable impressions created by the posters of the past.]
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HOW AN EXASPERATED ADJUTANT WOULD LIKE TO ADDRESS THE NEW GUARD.
"Guard! for I still concede to you the title, Though well I know that it is not your due, Being devoid of everything most vital To the high charge which is imposed on you; Listen awhile—and, Number Two, be dumb; Forbear to scratch the irritable tress; No longer masticate the furtive gum; And, Private Pitt, stop nibbling at your thumb, And for a change attend to my address.
"Day after day I urge the old, old thesis— To reverence well the man of martial note, Nor treat as mere sartorial caprices The mystic marks he carries on his coat, And how to know what everybody is, The swords, the crowns, the purple-stained cards, The Brigadiers concealed in Burberries, And render all those pomps and dignities Which are, of course, the raison d'etre of guards.
"With what avail? for never a guard is mounted That does not do some wild abhorrent thing, Only in hushed low tones to be recounted, Lest haply hints of it should reach the KING— Dark ugly tales of sentinels who drank, Or lost their prisoners while imbibing tea, Or took great pains to make their minds a blank Whene'er approached by gentlemen of rank, And, when reproved, presented arms to me!
"There is no potentate in France or Flanders You will not heap with insult if you can. For lo! a car. It is the Corps Commander's; The sentries take no notice of the man, Or fix him with a not unkindly stare, And slap their butts in an engaging way, Or else, too late, in penitent despair Cry, 'Guard, turn out!' and there is no guard there, But they are in The Blue Estaminet.
"Weary I am of worrying and warning; For all my toil I get it in the neck; I am fed up with it; and from this morning I shall not seek to keep your crimes in check; Sin as you will—I shall but acquiesce; Sleep on, O sentinels—I shall not curse; And so, maybe, from sheer contrariness Some day a guard may be a slight success; At any rate you cannot well do worse."
* * * * *
LIGHT ON THE SITUATION.
"FRONT OF CROWN PRINCE RUPPRECHT.—At night the firing engagement slackened but little, and near Hellwerden it again rose to very great intensity."—Admiralty, per Wireless Press, July 26th.
Readers who shared the doubt of The Times as to the existence of "Hellwerden" (which doesn't appear in the maps) will be interested to learn from one of our correspondents, who knows it well, that it exists all right, but is only visible in the very early morning. The Times of July 28th bears out this statement.
Our correspondent adds the information that "Hellwerden" is sometimes spelt Morgendaemmerung.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, July 23rd.—The country awoke this morning to find itself threatened with a first-class political crisis and possibly a General Election to follow. Members dwelling temporarily on the Western Front had reluctantly torn themselves from their dug-outs on the receipt of a three-line whip, and had repaired post-haste to Westminster.
The trouble was nominally about the agricultural labourer and his minimum wage. Should it be twenty-five shillings, as set down in the Corn Production Bill, or thirty shillings, as proposed by Mr. WARDLE, the Leader of the Labour Party? The Amendment had the assent of the hard-shell Free-Traders, who were glad to snatch at any chance of defeating the proposed bounty to the farmer. They had been further incensed by the appointment of Messrs. MONTAGU and CHURCHILL to the Ministry, and hoped perhaps that some of the extreme Tories would help them to give the PRIME MINISTER a good hard knock.
Mr. PROTHERO made it plain from the outset that the Government meant to stand or fall by the proposal in the Bill; and most of the friends of the agricultural labourer prudently preferred twenty-five shillings in the hand to thirty shillings in the bush; with the result that the amendment was defeated by 301 to 102.
Mr. HOGGE called attention to the anomalous position occupied by Dr. ADDISON. The late Minister for Munitions and future Minister for Reconstruction is for the moment only an ordinary Member. Ought he not therefore to be re-elected before taking up his new appointment? Mr. SPEAKER'S judicious reply, "I do not appoint Ministers," left one wondering what sort of an appearance the Treasury Bench would present if he did.
Tuesday, July 24th.—Major HUNT and Mr. KING, though in some respects not unlike one another—each combining a child-like belief in what they are told outside the House with an invincible scepticism in regard to the information they receive from Ministers inside—are rarely found hunting in couples. But they made common cause to-day over the alleged award of the Distinguished Service Order to persons who had never been near the firing line, and they refused to accept Mr. MACPHERSON'S assurance that it was only given for service in the field. Mr. KING knew for a fact that a gentleman in France who had only served in the Post-Office had received it—presumably for not deserting his post; while Major HUNT could not understand how anyone should have earned it for fighting at home. "How has this country been attacked?" he asked indignantly. Air-raids evidently do not count with this gallant yeoman.
Efficiency, not economy, is the PRIME MINISTER'S watchword. Sir EDWARD CARSON as a Member of the War Cabinet will have no portfolio, but will enjoy the not inadequate salary of five thousand a year for what the Profession calls "a thinking part." The new Minister of Reconstruction is to have two thousand a year; and we shall no doubt hear shortly that he has begun his labours by reconstructing another hotel for the accommodation of his staff.
With the spirit of expansion pervading the Head of the Government, it is not surprising that the expenditure of the country continues to rise. The panting estimators of the Treasury toil after it in vain. Mr. McKENNA's passionate plea for a limit to our war-expenditure would have carried more weight if he had shown any sign during his own time at the Exchequer of being able to impose one. As it was, Mr. G.D. FABER'S interjection, "Do you want to limit munitions?" quickly reduced him to generalities. The House had to rest content with Mr. BONAR LAW'S assurance that, though we could not go on for ever, we could go on longer than our enemies.
Wednesday, July 25th.—In answer to Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING the UNDER-SECRETARY FOR WAR stated that since the outbreak of hostilities there had been forty-seven airship raids and thirty "heavier than air" raids upon this country, "making seventy-eight air-raids in all." It is believed that the discrepancy is explained by Mr. BILLING'S unaccountable omission on one occasion to make a speech.
He made one to-night of prodigious length, which brought him into personal collision with Major ARCHER-SHEE. Palace Yard was the scene of the combat, which ended, as I understand, in ARCHER downing PEMBERTON and BILLING sitting on SHEE. Then the police arrived and swept up the hyphens.
Opinions differ as to Mr. KING'S latest performance. Some hold his complaint, that the Government had introduced detectives into the precincts of the House, to have been perfectly genuine, and point to his phrase, "I speak from conviction," as a proof that he was trying to revenge himself for personal inconvenience suffered at the hands of the minions of the law. Others contend that he knew all the time the real reason for their presence—the possibility that Sinn Fein emissaries would greet Mr. GINNELL'S impending departure with a display of fireworks from the Gallery.
Thursday, July 26th.—Mr. GINNELL put in a belated appearance this afternoon in order to make a dramatic exit. But the performance lacked spontaneity. Indeed honourable Members, even while they laughed, were, I think, a little saddened by the sight of this elderly gentleman's pathetic efforts to play the martyr.
Only twenty Members agreed with Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD in believing, or affecting to believe, that the recent resolution of the German Reichstag was the solemn pronouncement of a sovereign people, and that it only requires the endorsement of the British Government to produce an immediate and equitable peace. Not much was left of this pleasant theory after Mr. ASQUITH had dealt it a few of his sledge-hammer blows. "So far as we know," he said, "the influence of the Reichstag, not only upon the composition but upon the policy of the German Government, remains what it has always been, a practically negligible quantity."
Any faint hopes that the pacificists may have cherished of a favourable division were destroyed by Mr. SNOWDEN in a speech whose character may be judged by the comment passed on it by Mr. O'GRADY, just back from Russia, that "LENIN had preached the same doctrine in Petrograd."
* * * * *
THE REST CURE.
TRIBUNALS PLEASE COPY.
"It is understood that the French Consul at Lourenco Marques, M. Savoye, has, owing to ill-health, asked his Government to allow him to return to Army duties."—Cape Times.
* * * * *
"Lady —— set the fashion of arriving at the altar with empty hands. She is the first bride to have had such an important wedding without the etceteras of bouquet or prayerbook, bridesmaids, pages, or wedding-cake."—News of the World.
Far too big a handful.
* * * * *
"150 YEARS AGO—JULY 20, 1767.
Reports of the borough treasurer of West Ham show a loss of L41,000 on the municipal tramways and a loss of L35,000 on the electricity undertaking."—Northampton Daily Echo.
So the eighteenth century was not so much behind the present time as we had been led to believe.
* * * * *
"Piano wanted by a lady to teach little girl to learn."—Provincial Paper.
One of those player-pianos with the new knuckle-rapping attachment, we suppose.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Last year, owing to the pressure of other engagements, we did not mark out the tennis-lawn at "Sunnyside." This year the matter has been taken out of our hands by the military powers.
Nevin was the first to think of it.
"What about a game of tennis?" he suggested one bright morning in May. "Keep us from going to seed."
It was his second day of leave after three months in the Ypres salient, so the change may have been too sudden for him.
"That's a toppin' notion," echoed Bob; "let's raid 'old Beetle's' museum and dig out the posts."
So Captain Richard Nevin, R.E., and Second-Lieutenant Robert Simpson, R.G.A., took the affair into their own hands.
Having seen the same forces cooperating on previous occasions, I determined to keep clear of them. Besides, I am only "old Beetle."
They found the posts in the tool-shed, and, borne upon the initial enthusiasm of their venture, began to sink a sort of winze on each side of the lawn. Up to this point they were perfectly amicable.
Then Nevin, who is a thoughtful person, said suddenly, "I suppose you made quite sure that the line of these posts will cross the centre of the court?" And then, before Bob could retort, added, "Of course you ought to have made absolutely certain of that. As it is we had better leave this and find the corner irons."
Corner irons that have remained undisturbed for some twenty-four months have a way of concealing themselves. At the end of ten minutes the seekers began to show signs of impatience. Such terms as "angles," "bases," "centres," interspersed with "futilass," "sodamsure," "knowseverything" were cast upon a hazardous breeze.
Eventually they found one of the angles. To the ordinary layman this would have meant the beginning of the end. But Captain Richard Nevin and Second-Lieutenant Robert Simpson are made of different stuff. They scorn the easy path. They have stores of deep knowledge to draw upon which place their calculations beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. After they had made a searching examination of the exhumed angle, Bob pulled out a pencil, prostrated himself behind it and then proceeded to gaze ecstatically over the top.
I moved my chair slightly south, and pretended to regard the apple-blossom, and when Nevin went into the house and brought out something which dimly resembled a ship's sextant I had the extreme presence of mind not to make any inquiries.
Margery drifted up with a pink duster.
"What ever are they doing?" she asked.
"Hush!" I whispered; "Bob has just got the range of a supply train on the far side of the rockery, and if Nevin (Nevin is the Crown Prince of Wurtemberg) doesn't get the longitude of Bob's battery in the next minute or so it's all up with his day's rations."
Suddenly Bob rose and made some calculations on an old envelope.
"That means three rounds battery fire," I said, "and the Prince loses his lunch."
Not satisfied with this success, Bob went indoors and looted the hall of three walking-sticks and Margery's new sunshade.
"What's he going to do now?" said Margery, with one eye on the sunshade.
He walked to the far end of the lawn and manoeuvred in a small circle. "The water-jackets are boiling," I replied, "and they've run out of cold water. He's divining with the sunshade. Look!"
Bob suddenly drove the sunshade into the ground. There was a sharp crack and—well, he found another iron. Of course he tried to explain to Margery that it was an absolute accident and he only wanted to get a sighting post; but that was mere self-effacement, and I said so.
Things began to happen quickly after this, and if Private James Thompson had not put in an unexpected appearance they might have completed the job without any further difference of opinion.
In the merry days before war was thrust upon us, James Thompson was an architect of distinction. Obviously an architect of distinction can reduce the difficulty of laying out a tennis-court to an elementary and puerile absurdity. For half-an-hour the demonstration was carried on in the garden, and, after Private Thompson had twice been threatened with arrest for using insubordinate language to a superior, it was decided to finish the discussion in my study, assisted by the softening influence of the Tantalus.
Not for a hundred pounds would I have ventured into the study. I picked up The Gardening Gazette and engrossed myself in an interesting piece of scandal about the slug family.
Suddenly Margery appeared at the double.
"Do you know," I exclaimed excitedly, "it was the wireworm after all."
"Come on," Margery panted irrelevantly, "buck up and we can finish it before they come out again."
In her hand she held a tape-measure and an official diagram of a tennis-court.
Five minutes later the experts emerged from the house.
"Hullo!" exclaimed Nevin aggressively, "what have you been up to?"
"Oh," I replied, flicking over a page on weed-killers, "Margery and I thought we had better find the remainder of the tennis-court while you were having a rest. Margery's gone for a ball of string, and if Bob fetches the marker you can mark the court out now."
Nevin's retort was addressed solely to Private James Thompson, who had in an unfortunate moment given way to laughter of an unmilitary character.
* * * * *
* * * * *
BOYCOTTING THE BARD.
["Contributors are particularly requested not to send verses. They are not wanted in any circumstances and cannot be printed, acknowledged or returned."—British Weekly, July 19th.]
I once believed the "Man of Kent" To be the Muses' firm supporter And only less benevolent To bards than Mr. C.K. SHORTER.
But this untimely cruel blow Has quite irrevocably shattered The hopes which till a week ago My fondest aspirations flattered.
Wounds that are dealt us by our friends Are faithful, but the name endearing Of friend is hardly his who lends And then denies the bard a hearing.
How then, O brother songsters, can You take it lying down, and meekly Submit to this tyrannic ban Laid on you by The British Weekly?
No, no, you'll rather emulate The Minstrel Boy, and we shall find you Storming its barred and bolted gate With reams of lyrics slung behind you.
* * * * *
"The time is ripe for the authorities to stop all street traffic and to order all unauthorised persons to take cover under penalty at the approach of the air raiders."—Daily Paper.
Personally, as a means of shelter we prefer the coal-cellar to any penalty.
* * * * *
"Will Mr. Russell deny that 660 million gallons of milk were produced in Ireland last year, of which half went to the creameries and more to the margarine factories and to England?"—Letter in Irish Paper.
The Irish gallon would appear to be as elastic as the Irish mile.
* * * * *
The purpose of a Divisional Sign is to deceive the enemy. Let us suppose that you belong to the 580th Division, B.E.F. You do not put "580" on your waggons and your limbers and on the tin-hats of your Staff. Certainly not. The enemy would know about you if you did that. You have a secret sign, such as tramps chalk on your wall at home, to let other tramps know that you are a stingy devil with a dog. There are many theories as to how these signs are chosen. One is that a committee of officers sits in camera for forty-eight hours without food or drink till it has decided on an arrow or a cat, or a dandelion, rampant.
Let us take it that a cat is chosen—a quiet thing in cats—crimson on a green-and-white chess-board background. Forthwith (as adjutants say) a crimson cat on a green-and-white chess-board background is painted and embroidered on everything that can be painted and embroidered on—limbers and waggons and hand-carts and arm-bands and the tin-hats of the Staff. And the Division goes forth as it were masked, disguised, just like one of Mr. LE QUEUX'S diplomatist heroes at a fancy-dress ball, wearing a domino. You perceive the mystery of it? None of your naked numbers for us B.E.F. men. The Division marches through a village, and the dear old Man Who Knows, cropping up again in the army, says, "Ha! A red cat on a green-and-white chess-board back-ground? That's the Seventeenth Division."
You see it now? The enemy agent overhears. The false news is sent crackling through the ether to Berlin (wireless, my dear, in the cellar, of course). The German General Staff looks up the village on a map, and sticks into it a flag marked 17. Not 580, mark you. And the General Staff frowns, and Majesty pushes the ends of its moustache into its eyes at the knowledge that the Seventeenth Division is in ——.
And all the time it is in ——! And the agent pockets his cheque. So wars are won and lost.
Just conceive the romance of it. It is heraldry gone mad.
Myself, however, I incline to another theory as to the origin of these symbols.
A Higher Command enters his office. Higher Commands always enter. The office is hung, like a studio in one of Mr. GEORGE MORROW'S pictures, with diagrams of circles and triangles and crosses and straight lines. The Higher Command, being a man of like passions with ourselves, has just finished tinned Oxford marmalade and a cigarette. He heads for the "IN" basket on his desk and takes from it the "Arrivals and Departures" paper. "Ha!" says he to the lady secretary, "I see six new divisions landed yesterday." He pauses. Outside there is no sound to be heard save the loud and continuous crash of the sentry's hand against his rifle as he salutes the passing A.D.C.'s. "What about signs?" says the Higher Command. The lady secretary says nothing. She floods the carburettor of the typewriter preparatory to thumping out "Ref. attached correspondence" on it.
The Higher Command stares at the diagrams on the wall. He is feeling strangely light-hearted this morning. He has won five francs at bridge the night before from the D.A.D.M.O. A.D.G.S. And mere circles and squares have somehow lost their savour for him. He plunges. "What about a lion?" he says.
The lady secretary opens the throttle and plays a few bars on the "cap." key.
"A red lion?" says the Higher Command seductively.
"It has already been done," says the lady secretary coldly.
"Who by—I mean by whom?" inquires the H.C. indignantly.
"By the Deputy Assistant Director of Higher Commands, when you were on leave last week," she tells him.
He mutters a military oath against the D.A.D.H.C. Then his face clears.
"Tigers?" he suggests hopefully.
"We might do a green tiger," she says reluctantly.
"With yellow stripes!" shouts the H.C.
"On a mauve background," says she, warming to it.
And so one division is disposed of. But it is not always so, of course.
After a Hun counter-attack, for instance, the H.C. may gaze morosely on his geometrical figures and throw off a little thing in triangles and St. Andrew's crosses. Or when the moon is at the full you may have a violet allotted to you as your symbol. One never knows. My own divisional sign, for instance, is an iddy-umpty plain on a field plainer. We vary the heraldry by ringing changes on the colours. On our brigade arm-band it becomes an iddy-umpty gules on a field azure. If I could be quite sure of the heraldic slang for puce I would tell you what it is on our Army Corps arm-band. On a waggon it used to be an iddy-umpty blank on a field muddy. But administrative genius has changed all that. A routine order, the other day, ordered a pink border to be painted round it, and this first simple essay of the departed Morse goes now through the villages of France in a bed of roses.
We wish sometimes that our conditions were changed as easily as our signs.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"The Lord Provost will preside over the meeting at which Mr. Churchill will speak in Dundee this afternoon.
Many thousands of people are leaving Dundee for their annual holiday."—Manchester Daily Dispatch.
* * * * *
"Mr. Alderman Domoney, in remanding at the Guildhall to-day two boys charged with theft, said he always liked to deal leniently with boys so young and to give the ma fresh start in life."—Evening Paper.
Not a word about the pa, you observe; yet we daresay he was equally responsible.
* * * * *
From the Orders of a Battalion in France:—
"The undermentioned N.C.O.'s and men will parade at 10.30 a.m., bringing with them their gas-helmets and the unexpired portion of their rations."
It is surmised that this refers to the cheese-issue.
* * * * *
* * * * *
It was in the high midsummer and the sun was shining strong, And the lane was rather flinty and the lane was rather long, When, up and down the gentle hills beside the stripling Test, I chanced to come to Bullington and stayed a while to rest.
It was drowned in peace and quiet, as the river reeds were drowned In the water clear as crystal, flowing by with scarce a sound; And the air was like a posy with the sweet haymaking smells, And the Roses and Sweet-Williams and Canterbury Bells.
Far away as some strange planet seemed the old world's dust and din, And the trout in sun-warmed shallows hardly seemed to stir a fin, And there's never a clock to tell you how the hurrying world goes on In the little ivied steeple down in drowsy Bullington.
Small and sleepy there it nestled, seeming far from hastening Time, As a teeny-tiny village in some quaint old nursery rhyme, And a teeny-tiny river by a teeny-tiny weir Sang a teeny-tiny ditty that I stayed a while to hear:—
"Oh the stream runs to the river and the river to the sea; But the reedy banks of Bullington are good enough for me; Oh the road runs to the highway and the highway o'er the down, But it's just as good in Bullington as mighty London town."
Then high above an aeroplane in humming flight went by, With the droning of its engines filling all the cloudless sky; And like the booming of a knell across that perfect day There came the guns' dull thunder from the ranges far away.
And, while I lay and listened, oh the river's sleepy tune Seemed to change its rippling music, like the cuckoo's stave in June, And the cannon's distant thunder and the engines' warlike drone Seemed to mingle with its burthen in a solemn undertone:—
"Oh the stream runs to the river, and the river to the sea, And there's war on land and water, and there's work for you and me; And on many a field of glory there are gallant lives laid down As well for sleepy Bullington as mighty London Town."
So I roused me from my daydream, for I knew the song spoke true, That it isn't time for dreaming while there's duty still to do; And I turned into the highroad where it meets the flinty lane, And the world of wars and sorrows was about me once again.
* * * * *
"Stop, Francesca," I cried. "Don't talk; don't budge; don't blink. Give me time. I've all but—"
"What are you up to?" she said.
"There," I said, "you've done it. I had it on the tip of my tongue, and now it has gone back for ever into the limbo of forgotten things, and all because you couldn't keep silent for the least little fraction of a second."
"My poor dear," she said, "I am sorry. But why didn't you tell me you were trying to remember something?"
"That," I said, "would have been just as fatal to it. These things are only remembered in an atmosphere of perfect silence. The mental effort must have room to develop."
"Don't tell me," she said tragically, "that I have checked the development of a mental effort. That would be too awful."
"Well," I said, "that's exactly what you have done, that and nothing less. I feel just as if I'd tried to go upstairs where there wasn't a step."
"Yes," I said, "it's equally painful and dislocating."
"But you're not the only one," she said, "who's forgotten things. I've done quite a lot in that line myself. I've forgotten the measles and sugar and Lord RHONDDA and the Irish trouble and your Aunt Matilda, and where I left my pince-nez and what's become of the letters I received this morning, and whom I promised to meet where and when to talk over what. You needn't think you're the only forgetter in the world. I can meet you on that and any other ground."
"But," I said, "the thing you made me forget—"
"No, for you hadn't remembered it."
"Well, anyhow I shall put it on to you, and I want you to realise that it's not like one of your trivialities—"
"This man," said Francesca, "refers to his Aunt Matilda and Lord RHONDDA as trivialities."
"It is not," I continued inexorably, "like one of your trivialities. It's a most important thing, and it begins with a 'B.'"
"Are you sure of that?"
"Yes, I'm sure it begins with a 'B'—or perhaps a 'W.' Yes, I'm sure it's a 'W' now."
"I'm going," said Francesca with enthusiasm, "to coax that word or thing, or whatever it is, back to the tip of your tongue and beyond it. So let's have all you know about it. Firstly, then, it begins with a 'W.'"
"Yes, it begins with a 'W,' and I feel it's got something to do with Lord RHONDDA."
"That doesn't help much. So far as I can see, everything now is more or less nearly connected with Lord RHONDDA."
"But my forgotten thing isn't bread or meat. It's something remoter."
"Is it Mr. KENNEDY-JONES?" said Francesca. "He's just resigned, you know."
"No, it's not Mr. KENNEDY-JONES. How could it be? Mr. KENNEDY-JONES doesn't begin with a 'W.'"
"If I were you, I shouldn't insist too much on that 'W.' I should keep it in the background, for it's about ten to one you'll find in the end that it doesn't begin with a 'W.' At any rate we've made two short advances; we know it isn't Mr. KENNEDY-JONES, because he doesn't begin with a 'W,' and we are not very sure that it begins with a 'W.'"
"Keep quiet," I said, flushing with anticipation. "I'm getting it ... your last remark has put me on the track.... Silence.... Ah ... it's DEVONSHIRE CREAM! There—I've got it at last. I feel an overwhelming desire for Devonshire cream."
"The sort that begins with a 'W.'"
"Well, it's got a 'V' in it, anyhow."
"And it isn't Devonshire cream at all. It's really Cornish cream—at least Mary Penruddock says it is."
"Cornish or Devonshire, that's what I must have, if Lord RHONDDA'S rules allow it."
"All right, I'll get you a pot or two if I can. But are you sure you won't forget it again?"
"If I do," I said, "I can always remember it by the W.'"
* * * * *
THE CHANGE CURE.
["The only way to make domestic service popular is for a duchess to become a tweeny-maid."—Evening Paper.]
It may be that a modern Mene, Mene Will force the Duchess to become a tweeny; But, ere this democratic transformation Secures the "old nobility's" salvation, Some other changes are not less but more Needful to aid our progress in the War.
For instance, with what rapture were we blest If Some-one gave his nimble tongue a rest And, turning Trappist, stanched the fearsome gush Of egotistic and thrasonic slush; Or if Lord X. eschewed his daily speeches And took to canning Californian peaches; Or if egregious LYNCH could but abstain From "ruining along the illimitable inane" At Question-time, and try to render PLATO'S Republic into Erse, or grow potatoes; Or if our novelists wrote cheerful books, Instead of joining those superfluous cooks Who spoil our daily journalistic broth By lashing it into a fiery froth.
Counsels of sheer perfection, you will say, In times when ev'ry mad dog has his day, Yet none the less inviting as the theme Of a millennial visionary's dream.
And as for Duchesses turned tweeny-maids Or following other unobtrusive trades There's nothing very wonderful or new Or difficult to credit in the view; For DICKENS—whom I never fail to bless For solace in these days of storm and stress— Found his best slavey in The Marchioness.
* * * * *
WHO INVENTED THE NAME "SAMMIES"?
"They are 'Sammies' now, and the name probably will stick along with 'Tommy,' 'poilu' and 'Fritz.' ... The christening was one of those spontaneous affairs, coming nobody knows how."—Kansas City Star.
Mr. Punch, ever reluctant to take credit to himself, feels nevertheless bound to say that the suggestion of the name "Sammies" for our American Allies appeared in his columns as long ago as June 13th. On page 384 of that issue (after quoting The Daily News as having said, "We shall want a name for the American 'Tommies' when they come; but do not call them 'Yankees'; they none of them like it") he wrote: "As a term of distinction and endearment, Mr. Punch suggests 'Sammies'—after their uncle."
* * * * *
"London.— —— House. Bed, breakfast 4s., per week 24s. 6d. No other meals at present."
This should encourage the FOOD-CONTROLLER.
* * * * *
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(BY MR. PUNCH'S STAFF OF LEARNED CLERKS.)
HANSI, the Alsatian caricaturist and patriot, who escaped a few months before the War, after being condemned by the German courts to fifteen months' imprisonment for playing off an innocent little joke on four German officers, and did his share of fighting with the French in the early part of the War, is the darling of the Boulevards. They adore his supreme skill in thrusting the irritating lancet of his humour into bulging excrescences on the flank of that monstrous pachyderm of Europe, the German. Professor Knatschke (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), aptly translated by Professor R.L. CREWE, is a joyous rag. It purports to be the correspondence of a Hun Professor, full of an egregious self-sufficiency and humourlessness and greatly solicitous for the unhappy Alsatian who is ignorant and misguided enough to prefer the Welsch (i.e. foreign) "culture-swindle" to the glorious paternal Kultur of the German occupation. And HANSI illustrates his witty text with as witty and competent a pencil. HANSI has, in effect, the full status of an Ally all by himself. He adds out of the abundance of his heart a diary and novel by Knatschke's daughter, Elsa, full of the artless sentimentality of the German virgin. It is even better fun than the Professor's part of the business. Naturally the full flavour of both jokes must be missed by the outsider. HANSI is the more effective in that he chuckles quietly, never guffaws and never rails. Fun of the best.
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There is not much left for me to say in praise of Mr. JACK LONDON'S dog-stories; and anyhow, if his name on the cover of Jerry of the Islands (MILLS AND BOON) is not enough, no persuasion of mine will induce you to read it. Those of us to whom dogs are merely animals—just that—will find this history of an Irish terrier dull enough; but others who have in their time given their "heart to a dog to tear" will recognise and joyously welcome Mr. LONDON'S sympathetic understanding of his hero. Jerry's adventurous life as here told was spent in the Solomon Islands, which is not, I gather, the most civilized part of the globe. He had been brought up to dislike niggers, and when he disliked anyone he did not hesitate to show his feelings and his teeth. So it is possible that for some tastes he left his marks a little too frequently; but in the end he thoroughly justified his inclination to indulge in what looked like unprovoked attacks upon bare legs. For unless he had kept his teeth in by constant practice he might never have contrived to save his beloved master and mistress from a very cowardly and crafty attack. Good dog, Jerry!
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I admit that the fact of its publishers having branded The Road to Understanding (CONSTABLE) as "A Pure Love Story" did not increase the hopes with which I opened it. Let me however hasten also to admit that half of it certainly bettered expectation. That was the first half, in which Burke Denby, the heir to (dollar) millions, romantically defied his father and married his aunt's nursery governess, and immediately started to live the reverse of happy-ever after. All this, the contrast between ideals in a mansion and love in a jerry-built villa, and the thousand ways in which Mrs. Denby got upon her husband's nerves and generally blighted his existence, are told with an excellently human and sympathetic understanding, upon which I make my cordial congratulations to Miss ELEANOR H. PORTER. But because the book, however human, belongs, after all, to the category of "Best Sellers" it appears to have been found needful to furbish up this excellent matter with an incredible ending. That Mrs. Denby should retire with her infant to Europe, in order to educate herself to her husband's level, I did not mind. This thing has been done before now even in real life. But that, on returning after the lapse of years, she should introduce the now grown-up daughter, unrecognised, as secretary to her father! "Somehow ... you remind me strangely.... Tell me of your parents." "My daddy ... I never knew him." Or words to that effect. It is all there, spoiling a tale that deserved better.
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The voracious novel-reader is apt to hold detective stories in the same regard that the Scotchman is supposed to entertain towards whisky—some are better than others, but there are no really bad ones. The Pointing Man (HUTCHINSON) is better than most, in the first place because it takes us "east of Suez"—a pleasant change from the four-mile radius to which the popular sleuths of fiction mostly confine their activities; and, secondly, because it combines a maximum of sinister mystery with a minimum of actual bloodshed; and, lastly, because our credulity is not strained unduly either by the superhuman ingenuity of the hunter or an excess of diabolical cunning on the part of the quarry. Otherwise the story possesses the usual features. There is the clever young detective, in whose company we expectantly scour the bazaars and alleys of Mangadone in search of a missing boy. There are Chinamen and Burmese, opium dens and curio shops, temples and go-downs. Miss MARJORIE DOUIE has more than a superficial knowledge of her stage setting, and gets plenty of movement and colour into it. And if she has elaborated the characters and inter-play of her Anglo-Burmese colony to an extent that is not justified either by their connection with the plot or the necessity of mystifying the reader we must forgive her because she does it very well—so well indeed that we may hope to see The Pointing Man, excellent as it is in its way, succeeded by a contribution to Anglo-Oriental literature that will do ampler justice to Miss DOUIE'S unquestionable gifts.
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Our writers appear willing converts to my own favourite theory that the public is, like a child, best pleased to hear the tales that it already knows by heart. The latest exponent of this is the lady who prefers to be called only "The Author of An Odd Farmhouse." Her new little book, Your Unprofitable Servant (WESTALL), is a record of domestic happenings and impressions during the early phases of the War. The thing is skilfully done, and in the result carries you with interest from page to page; though (as I hint) the history of those August days, when Barbarism came forth to battle and Civilisation regretfully unpacked its holiday suit-cases, can hardly appeal now with the freshness of revelation. Still, the writer brings undeniable gifts to her more than twice-told tale. She has, for example, perception and a turn of phrase very pleasant, as when she speaks of the shops in darkened London conducting the last hour of business under lowered awnings, "as if it were a liaison." There are many such rewarding passages, some perhaps a little facile, but, taken together, quite enough to make this unpretentious little volume a very agreeable companion for the few moments of leisure which are all that most of us can get in these strenuous days.
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I enjoyed at a pleasant sitting the whole of Mr. FRANK SWINNERTON'S Nocturne (SECKER). I don't quite know (and I don't see how the author can quite know) whether his portraits of pretty self-willed Jenny and plain love-hungry Emmy, the daughters of the superannuated iron-moulder, are true to life, but they are extraordinarily plausible. Not a word or a mood or a move in the inter-play of five characters in four hours of a single night, the two girls and "Pa," and Alf and Keith, the sailor and almost gentleman who was Jenny's lover, seemed to me out of place. The little scene in the cabin of the yacht between Jenny and Keith is a quite brilliant study in selective realism. Take the trouble to look back on the finished chapters and see how much Mr. SWINNERTON has told you in how few strokes, and you will realise the fine and precise artistry of this attractive volume. I can see the lights, the silver and the red glow of the wine; and I follow the flashes and pouts and tearful pride of Jenny, and Keith's patient, embarrassed, masterful wooing as if I had been shamefully eavesdropping.
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Fool Divine (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) stands to some extent in a position unique among novels in that its heroine is also its villainess, or at least the wrecker of its hero. Nevile del Varna, the lady in question, is indeed the only female character in the tale, and has therefore naturally to work double tides. What happened was that young Christopher, a superman and hero, dedicate, as a volunteer, to the unending warfare of science against the evil goddess of the Tropics, yellow fever, met this more human divinity when on his journey to the scene of action, and, like a more celebrated predecessor, "turned aside to her." Then, naturally enough, when Nevile has gotten him for her husband and when love of her has caused him to abandon his project of self-sacrifice, she repays him with scorn. And as the unhappy Christopher already scorns himself the rest of the book (till the final chapters) is a record of deterioration more clever than exactly cheerful. The moral of it all being, I suppose, that if you are wedded to an ideal you should beware of taking to yourself a mortal wife, for that means bigamy. Incidentally the book contains some wonderfully impressive pictures of tropical life and of the general beastliness of existence on a rubber plantation. At the end, as I have indicated, regeneration comes for Christopher—though I will not reveal just how this happens. There is also a subsidiary interest in the revolutionary affairs of Cuba, which the much-employed Nevile appears to manage, as a local Joan of Arc, in her spare moments; and altogether the book can be recommended as one that will at least take you well away from the discomforts of here and now.
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