PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
September 29th, 1920.
An epidemic of measles is reported in the North. It seems that in these days of strikes people are either coming out in sympathy or in spots.
* * *
The secret of industrial peace, says a sporting paper, is more entertainment for the masses. We have often wondered what our workers do to while away the time between strikes.
* * *
"The cost of living for working-class families," says Mr. C.A. MCCURDY, the Food Controller, "will probably increase by 9s. 6d. a week at Christmas." That is, of course, if Christmas ever comes.
* * *
We understand that Dean INGE has been invited to meet the FOOD CONTROLLER, in order to defend his title.
* * *
"Nobody wants a strike," says Mr. BRACE, M.P. We can only suppose therefore that they must be doing it for the films.
* * *
An American artist who wanted to paint a storm at sea is reported to have been lashed to a mast for four hours. We understand that he eventually broke away and did it after all.
* * *
"What is England's finance coming to?" asks a City editor in a contemporary. We can only say it isn't coming to us.
* * *
In Petrograd the fare for half-an-hour's cab ride is equal to two hundred pounds in English money at the old rate of exchange. Fortunately in London one could spend the best part of a day in a taxi-cab for that amount.
* * *
"Before washing a flannel suit," says a home journal, "shake it and beat it severely with a stick." Before doing this, however, it would be just as well to make sure that the whole of the husband has been removed.
* * *
A lion-tamer advertises in a contemporary for a situation. It is reported that Mr. SMILLIE contemplates engaging him for Sir ROBERT HORNE.
* * *
Whatever else happens, somebody says, the public must hang together. But what does he think we do in a Tube?
* * *
"Primroses have been gathered at Welwyn," says The Evening News. As even this seems to have failed we think it is time to drop these attempts to draw the POET LAUREATE.
* * *
Glasgow licensees are being accused of giving short whisky measure. It is even said that in some extreme cases they paint the whisky on the glass with a camel-hair brush.
* * *
Mice, says Mrs. GREIVE, of Whins, hate the smell of mint. So do lambs.
* * *
"Coal strike or no coal strike," says The Daily Mail, "the Commercial Motor Exhibition at Olympia will not be postponed." This is the dogged spirit that made England what it used to be.
* * *
Orpheus of old, an American journal reminds us, could move stones with his music. We have heard piano-players who could move whole families; but this was before the house shortage.
* * *
The National Association of Dancing Masters has decided to forbid "the cockroach dive" this year. Our advice to the public in view of this decision is to go about just as if nothing serious had happened.
* * *
A large party of American University students are on a visit to Switzerland. It is satisfactory to know that the Alps are counted every morning and all Americans searched before they leave the country.
* * *
"The English house would make an ideal home," says an American journal. Possibly, if people only had one.
* * *
Three statues have been stolen in one week from Berlin streets. It is now suggested that the London police might be taken off duty for one night in order to give the thief a sporting chance.
* * *
It is not true, says an official report, that Scottish troops are being sent to Ireland. We are pleased to note this indication that the bagpipes should only be used in cases of great emergency.
* * *
"What does the Mexican President stand for?" asks The New York Globe. Probably because the Presidential chair is so thorny.
* * *
The Dublin County authorities have decided to release from their asylums all but the most dangerous lunatics. We are assured that local conditions in no way justify this discrimination.
* * *
A jury of children has been empanelled in Paris to decide which of the toys exhibited at the Concours Lupine is the most amusing. We understand that at the time of going to press an indestructible rubber uncle is leading by several votes.
* * *
A burglar arrested in Berlin was taken ill, and while operating upon him the surgeons found in his stomach six silver spoons, some forks, a number of screws and a silver nail file. Medical opinion inclines to the theory that his illness was due to something he had swallowed.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A FAIR WARNING.
"REQUIRED.—English Child to play afternoons with French boy ten years; good retribution."—Continental Daily Mail.
* * * * *
"THE NATIONAL LAYING TEST, 1920-21.
1. White Leghorns. 2. White Wyandottes. 3. Rhode Island Reds. 4. Any other Sitting Breeds. 5. Any other Non-Sitting Breeds. 6. Championship (any Breed). 7. Great Eastern Railway Employees." Poultry, for the Farmer and Fancier.
We shall treat the porters at Liverpool Street with more respect in future.
* * * * *
MICHAELMAS AND THE GOOSE.
(Lines written under the threat of a Coal-strike).
You for whose Mass by immemorial use, When Autumn enters on his annual cycle, We offer up the fatted goose Mid fragrant steam of apple-juice, Hear our appeal, O Michael!
Sir, do not try our piety too sore, Bidding us sacrifice—a wrench how cruel!— Her whom we prize all geese before— The one that lays that precious ore, Our priceless daily fuel.
Her output, as it is, shows want of will To check the slackness growing rife and rifer; And it would fall far lower still (Being, indeed, reduced to nil) If they should go and knife her.
Yet there are men who press the slaughterers' claim In sympathetic language, talking loosely; Among them Mr. GOSLING—shame That anyone with such a name Should cackle so ungoosely!
Not in your honour would that bird be slain If they should kill her—and the hour is critical— But for their own ends, thus to gain An object palpably profane (That is to say, political).
Defend her, Michael! you who smote the crew Of Satan on the jaw and stopped their bluffing; So, if you see her safely through, We'll give you thrice your usual due Of other geese (with stuffing).
* * * * *
The game of Auction Bridge may be divided into three species. There is the one we play at home, the second which we play at the Robinsons', and the third that is played at the high table at my club.
The three games are peculiarly distinct, but I have only recently discovered, at some expense, that each one has its particular conventions. At home, if I venture a light no-trump, and Joan, sitting on my right, exclaims well out of turn, "Oh! father," we all know that Joan has the no-trumper, and the play proceeds accordingly.
At the Robinsons' it is different. Suppose I make a call of one spade and the elder hand two hearts, and my partner (let us suppose he is Robinson) passes, and I say "Two spades," and the elder hand says "Three hearts," and Robinson bellows "No," I at once realise that it would be extremely dangerous to call three spades.
These two typical forms of convention are quite clear and seldom lead to any misunderstanding. But the high table at the club is different, and, if I might say so with all diffidence, the conventions there are not so well defined. In fact they may lead to terrible confusion. I speak with confidence on this point because I tried them a few days ago.
Three disconsolate monomaniacs wanted making up, and I, dwelling upon the strong game I had recently been playing at home, threw precaution to the winds and made them up. My partner was a stern man with a hard blue eye and susceptible colouring. After we had cut he informed me that, should he declare one no-trump, he wished to be taken out into a major suit of five; also, should he double one no-trump, he required me to declare without fail my best suit. He was going to tell me some more but somebody interrupted him. Then we started what appeared to be a very ordinary rubber.
My partner perhaps was not quite at his best when it was my turn to lead; at least he never seemed particularly enthusiastic about anything I did lead, but otherwise—well, I might almost have been at the Robinsons'. Then suddenly he doubled one no-trump.
I searched feverishly for my best suit. I had two—four diamonds to the eight; four hearts to the eight. A small drop of perspiration gathered upon my brow. Then I saw that, whereas I held the two, three, five of hearts, I had the two, three, six of diamonds. Breathing a small prayer, I called two diamonds. This was immediately doubled by the original declarer of no-trumps. My partner said "No," my other opponent said "No," and I, thinking it couldn't be worse, switched into my other best suit and made it two hearts. The doubler passed and I felt the glow of pride which comes to the successful strategist. This was frozen instantly by my partner's declaration of two no-trumps.
If Mr. SMILLIE were suddenly transformed into a Duke I am certain he would not look so genuinely horror-struck as my partner did when I laid my hand upon the table. Yet, as I pointed out, it was his own beastly convention, so I just washed my hands of it and leaned back and watched him hurl forth his cards as Zeus hurled the thunder-bolts about.
Then, of course, the other convention had to have its innings. My partner went one no-trump, and I began to look up my five suit. In the meantime the next player on the declaring list doubled the no-trump. This was very confusing. Was he playing my partner's convention and asking his partner for his best suit? I hesitated; but orders are orders, so, having five spades to the nine, I declared two spades. My left-hand enemy said "No"; my partner said "No"; and the doubler—well, he doubled again. This time my partner, being Dummy, hurled down all his thunder-bolts—thirteen small ones—at once. When it was all over he explained at some length that he did not wish ever to be taken out of an opponent's double. I expect this was another convention he was going to tell me about when he was interrupted in the overture to the rubber. Anyway he hadn't told me, and I at some slight cost—five hundred—had nobly carried out his programme.
When eventually the final blow fell and we, with the aid of the club secretary, were trying to add up the various columns of figures, the waiter brought up the evening papers. I seized one and, looking at the chief events of the day, remarked, "STEVENSON is playing a great game." My late partner said, "Ah, you're interested in billiards." I admitted the soft impeachment. "Yes," he said dreamily, "a fine game, billiards; you never have to play against three opponents."
I have now definitely decided that playing my 2 handicap game at the Robinsons' and my plus 1 in the home circle is all the bridge I really care about.
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"Man's original evolution from the anthropoid apes ... becomes a reasonable hypothesis, especially when we think of the semi-naked savages who inhabited these islands when Julius Caesar landed on our shores, and our present Prime Minister."—Church Family Newspaper.
* * * * *
"The contemplated aerial expedition to the South Pole will start in October. Aeroplanes and airships will be used, and the object of the trip is to study magnetic wages."—Irish Paper.
Incidentally it is expected a new altitude record may be achieved.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
NEW RHYMES FOR OLD CHILDREN.
The life of the snail is a fight against odds, Though fought without fever or flummox; You see, he is one of those gasteropods Which have to proceed on their stomachs.
Just think how you'd hate to go round on your own, Especially if it was gummy, And wherever you travelled you left on a stone The horrid imprint of your tummy!
Wherever you hid, by that glutinous trail Some boring acquaintance would follow; And this is the bitter complaint of the snail Who is pestered to death by the swallow.
But remember, he carries his house on his back, And that is a wonderful power; When he goes to the sea he has nothing to pack, And he cannot be caught in a shower.
After all there is something attractive in that; And then he can move in a minute, And it's something to have such a very small flat That nobody else can get in it.
But this is what causes such numbers of snails To throw themselves into abysses:— They are none of them born to be definite males And none of them definite misses.
They cannot be certain which one of a pair Is the Daddy and which is the Mummy; And that must be even more awful to bear Than walking about on your tummy.
* * * * *
"MOTHER OF 13 HAS TRIPLETS."—Daily Paper.
The unlucky age.
* * * * *
SEPTEMBER IN MY GARDEN.
There are few things I find so sorrowful as to sit and smoke and reflect on the splendid deeds that one might have been doing if one had only had the chance. The PRIME MINISTER feels like this, I suppose, when he remembers how unkind people have prevented him from making a land fit for heroes to live in, and I feel it about my garden. There can be no doubt that my garden is not fit for heroes to saunter in; the only thing it is fit for is to throw used matches about in; and there is indeed a certain advantage in this. Some people's gardens are so tidy that you have to stick all your used matches very carefully into the mould, with the result that next year there is a shrubbery of Norwegian pine.
The untidiness of my garden is due to the fault of the previous tenants. Nevertheless one can clearly discern through the litter of packing-cases which completely surrounds the house that there was originally a garden there.
I thought something ought to be done about this, so I bought a little book on gardening, and, turning to September, began to read.
"September," said the man, "marks the passing of summer and the advent of autumn, the time of ripening ruddy-faced fruits and the reign of a rich and gloriously-coloured flora."
About the first part of this statement I have no observation to make. It is probably propaganda, subsidised by the Meteorological Office in order to persuade us that we still have a summer; it has nothing to do with my present theme. But with regard to the ripening ruddy-faced fruits I should like to point out that in my garden there are none of these things, because the previous tenants took them all away when they left. Not a ruddy-faced fruit remains. As for the rich and gloriously-coloured flora, I lifted the edges of all the packing-cases in turn and looked for it, but it was not there either. It should have consisted, I gather, of "gorgeously-coloured dahlias, gay sunflowers, Michaelmas daisies, gladioli and other autumn blossoms, adding brightness and gaiety to our flower-garden."
"Gaiety" seems to be rather a strong point with this author, for a little further on he says, "The garden should be gay throughout the month with the following plants," and then follows a list of about a hundred names which sound like complicated diseases of the internal organs. I cannot mention them all, but it seems that my garden should be gay throughout with Lysimachia clethroides, Kniphofia nobilis and Pyrethrum uliginosum. It is not. How anything can be gay with Pyrethrum uliginosum I cannot imagine. An attitude of reverent sympathy is what I should have expected the garden to have. But that is what the man says.
Then there is the greenhouse. "From now onwards," he writes, "the greenhouse will meet with a more welcome appreciation than it has during the summer months. The chief plants in flower will be Lantanas, Campanula pyramidalis, Zonal Pelargoniums," and about twenty more. "Oh, they will, will they?" I thought, and opened the greenhouse door and looked in. Against the wall there were two or three mouldering peach-trees, and all over the roof and floor a riot of green tomatoes, a fruit which even when it becomes ruddy-faced I do not particularly like. In a single large pot stood a dissipated cactus, resembling a hedgehog suffering from mange.
But what was even more bitter to me than all this ruin and desolation was the thought of the glorious deeds I might have been doing if the garden had been all right. Phrases from the book kept flashing to my eye.
"Thoroughly scrub the base and sides of the pots, and see that the drainage-holes are not sealed with soil." How it thrilled the blood!
"Damp the floors and staging every morning and afternoon, and see that the compost is kept uniformly moist." What a fascinating pursuit!
"Feed the plants once a week with liquid manure." It went like a clarion call to the heart.
And here I was condemned to ennui and indolence when I might have been sitting up all night dosing the Zonal Pelargoniums with hot beef-tea and taking the temperature of the Campanula pyramidalis. Even with the ruddy-faced fruits there would have been plenty to do.
"Wooden trays with open lath bottoms made to slide into a framework afford the best means of storing apples and pears. The ripening of pears may be accelerated by enclosing them in bran or dry clean sand in a closed tin box." It did not say how often one was to clean out the cage, nor whether you put groundsel between the bars.
I told the man next door of my sorrows.
"Well, there 's plenty to do," he said. "Get a spade and dig the garden all over."
Dig it all over indeed when I ought to be plucking nosegays of Lysimachia clethroides and Pyrethrum uliginosum to put in my buttonhole! I prefer to dream my dreams.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE CABMAN AND THE COIN.
"We must wait a minute or two for Sir Charles," said our hostess. "Everyone else is here," and she beamed around the room.
The various mauvais quart d'heure dialogues that this speech had interrupted were resumed, most of them switching on to the question of punctuality. And then a cab was heard to stop outside and after a minute or so, presumably spent in financial transactions, the bell rang and the knocker knocked.
"That's Sir Charles," said our hostess; "there he is;" and a few moments later the guest we all awaited so fervently was in the room, full of apologies.
"Never mind why you're late," said our hostess, "I'm sure you couldn't help it. Now we'll eat," and once again a dozen Londoners fell into ark- approaching formation and moved towards repletion.
The party was familiar enough, after certain solvents of speech had been applied, for conversation to become general; and during the entree we were all listening to Sir Charles telling the famous story of the eminent numismatist who, visiting the British Museum, was taken for a thief. By way of making the narration the more vivid he felt in his pocket for a coin with which to illustrate the dramatic crisis, when his expression became suddenly alarmed and fixed.
"Good heavens!" he said, fumbling nervously all over his clothes, "I've given it to the cabman. Of all the infernal idiocy! I knew I should. I had a presentiment that I should get it muddled up with my other money and give it away."
"What was it?" he was asked.
"Was it something very valuable?"
"Was it a rare coin?"
Murmurs of sympathy made a low accompaniment.
"It was a goldmohur," said Sir Charles. "A very beautiful coin of the Moguls. I keep it as a kind of mascot. I've had it for years, but left it behind and it reached me from India only this morning. Having come away without it I sent a cable for it to be forwarded on. And now! It's the rottenest luck."
"What was it worth?" our hostess asked.
"Not very much. Thirty pounds perhaps. But that isn't it. The money is nothing—it's the sentimental associations that make the loss so serious."
"Well," said a practical man, "you needn't despair. Ring up Scotland Yard and ask them the best thing to do."
"Did you take the cabman's number?" some one asked.
"Of course he didn't," our hostess replied. "Who ever does a thing like that?"
"As a matter of fact," said Sir Charles, "I sometimes do. But this time, of course, I didn't." He groaned. "No, it's gone for ever. The cabman will see it's gold and sell it. I wouldn't trust your modern taxi-chauffeur with anything."
"If you would feel any happier," said our hostess, "do telephone now."
"No," said Sir Charles, "no. It's no use. A coin like that would never be surrendered. It's too interesting; even a cabman would realise that. Umbrellas they'll take back, of course—umbrellas and bags, but not a goldmohur. He'll either keep it to show his pals in public-houses or have it fixed up as a brooch for his wife."
As Sir Charles finished speaking and once more turned gloomily to his neglected plate the knocker was heard again to knock, and then one of the maids approached her mistress and spoke to her in low tones.
Our hostess brightened. "Now, Sir Charles," she said, "perhaps you'll revise your opinion of our taxi-drivers. Tell Sir Charles what it is," she said to the maid.
"If you please," the maid began, "there's a cabman at the door. He says he brought a gentleman here and——" Here she faltered.
"Go on, Robins," said her mistress.
"If you please, I don't like to," said the girl. "It's so—so——"
"I should like to hear it exactly," said Sir Charles.
"Well," said the maid with a burst of courage, "he says there's a gentleman here who—who bilked him—who passed a piece of bad money on him in the dark. Here it is," and she handed Sir Charles the goldmohur. "And he says if he doesn't get an honest shilling in exchange for it he'll have the law on him."
* * * * *
THE KNELL OF THE NAVY.
Spooner is a remarkable fellow. His duties on board this ship are to fly once a week off the deck, revolve twice round the masts and sink thankfully down into the water, where we haul him out by the breeches and hang his machine up to dry on the fo'c's'le. By performing these duties four times a month, he leads us to believe he is preparing the way for the ultimate domination of Air Power. We of the Navy are obsolete, and our hulls are encrusted with the Harwich barnacle.
The argument proceeds on these lines: One day there will be another war—perhaps to-morrow. We of the Navy, coalless and probably by that time rumless as well, will rush blindly from our harbours, our masts decked with Jolly Rogers and our sailors convulsed with hornpipe, to seek the enemy. But, alas, before the ocean spray has wetted our ruby nostrils we shall find ourselves descended upon from above and bombed promiscuously in the middle watch.
It will be all over inside a nautical second. The sky will be black with hostile aircraft, and there will be lead in the stew and bleeding bodies in the bilge. Hollow laughter will sound from the bridge, where the Captain will find the wheel come away in his hand, and the gramophone will revolve eternally on a jazz rune because no one will be alive to stop it. When all these things occur we of the Navy will know that our day is past and done.
Why our Mr. Spooner is such a remarkable fellow is because he can sit deep in an easy-chair and recite these things without turning a single hair on his top lip. Of course he realises that the work of the Navy must go on—until the crash descends. But it is rather unsettling for us. It seems to give us all a sort of impermanent feeling. Quite naturally we all ask what is the use of keeping up the log and painting the ship? Why isn't all the spare energy in the ship bent to polishing up our boat-drill? or why aren't the people who can afford it encouraged to buy unsinkable waistcoats? The Admiralty must know all about it if they are still on speaking terms with the Air Ministry. It's a beastly feeling.
Yesterday a formation of powerful aeroplanes, which Spooner called the "Clutching Hand," came out from the land and flew round us, and simply prodded us with their propellers as we lay defenceless on the water.
The bogey is undoubtedly spreading. The Admiral came aboard this afternoon to inspect our new guns. He yawned the whole time in his beard and did not ask a single question. We suppose he realises that the whole business is merely a makeshift arrangement for the time being and not worth bothering about as long as the brass is polished and the guns move up and down easily.
Well, as far as we are concerned it only remains for Number One, who has a brother in the Air Force, to cancel his winter order with Breezes, the naval tailors, and we shall all go below and pack our trunks and get ready to hand the ship over to Spooner. If the Navy of the future must be under water there is no particular reason why we should be there too.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
My Dear Charles,—You continue to ask me what I am doing, and why, and when I am going to sign the Peace, like everyone else, and return to honest work. The answer is in the negative. Though I am very fond of peace, I don't like work. And, as for being honest, I tend rather to politics. Have I never told you that I take a leading part on the Continent in the great Class War now raging? And, by the way, has anyone let you know that it is only a matter of time before the present order of society is closed down, the rule of the proletariat established and people like Charles set on to clean the streets or ruthlessly eliminated?
LENIN began to worry about you as long ago as 1915, and you know what happens to people when LENIN really starts to worry about them. He wasn't satisfied that enough violent interest was being taken in you; the mere Socialists he regarded as far too moderate and genteel. As for their First and their Second International—he wanted something thoroughgoing, something with a bit of ginger to it. So at the Zimmerwald Congress on the 5th September of that year all the out-and-outs unanimously declared war to the knife agin the Government, whatever and wherever the Government might be. How many long and weary years have you waited, Charles, to be told what Zimmerwaldianism might be—a religious tendency, a political aspiration, a valvular disease of the appendix or something to do with motor-cars? Ah, but that is as nothing to the secrets I am going to let you into, to force you into, before I have done with you.
It was not until well into 1918 that I myself began to worry about LENIN. He had left Switzerland by that time, having got tired of the jodelling Swiss and their infernally placid mountains. When the revolution broke out in Russia he felt it was just the thing for him, and his German backers felt he was just the man for it. So LENIN, whose real name isn't LENIN, went into partnership with TROTSKY, whose real name isn't TROTSKY, and set up in business in Moscow. But the thing was too good to be confined to Russia; an export department was clearly called for. It was when they began in the "off-licence" trade, in the "jug-and-bottle" business, that they ran up against your Henry.
With the view of upheaving Switzerland, LENIN and Co. sent a Legation to its capital, the principle being, no doubt, that before you cut another people's throat you must first establish friendly relations. This Legation arrived in May, 1918, when we were all so occupied with the War, making returns and indents and things, that it hoped to pass unnoticed. But there was something about that Legation which caught the eye; it had not the Foreign Office look about it—smart Homburg hats, washleather gloves, attache-cases with majestic locks, spats ... there was something missing. It looked as if it might be so many Anarchists plotting a bomb affair.
And that's what it was. I suppose you will say I am inventing it when I tell you that it used to sit round a table, in the basement of an Italian restaurant, devising schemes for getting rid of people (especially people like Charles) en bloc; that it didn't provide the Italian restaurant- keeper with as much money as he thought he could do with; that the Italian restaurant-keeper came round to see us after dark; wouldn't give his name; came into the room hurriedly; locked the door behind him; whispered "H'st!" and told us all about it. It requires an Italian to do that sort of thing properly; but this fellow was better than the best. I couldn't go to a cinema for months afterwards because it lacked the thrill of real life.
We were so impressed with his performance that we asked him his trade. He dropped the sinister, assumed the bashful and told us that he was an illusionist and juggler before he took to restaurant-keeping and sleuthing. He juggled four empty ink-pots for our entertainment and made one of them disappear. Not quite the way to treat a world-revolution; but there! This was all in the autumn of 1918, when we were naturally a bit above ourselves.
Switzerland has four frontiers—German, Austrian, Italian and French. Lenin's Legation had opened up modestly and without ostentation as becomes a world's reformer, a distributing office on each one of the four. Somehow I could never work myself up to be really alarmed at jolly ANNA BALABANOFF, but I fancy she has done as much harm since as most people achieve here on earth. Her job was to work into Italy; but in those days, when war conditions still prevailed, she couldn't do much more than stand on the shores of the Lake of Lugano and scowl at the opposite side, which is Italian. Do you remember the lady's photograph in our daily Press? If so you will agree with me that even that measure was enough to start unrest in Italy....
Charles, my lad, let us break off there and leave you for a week all of a tremble. In the course of these Sensational Revelations we are going to see something of the arrangements made for the break-up of the old world, which, with all its faults, we know we still love. The process of reconstruction is not yet defined, and will probably not be attempted in our time. In any case, when things arrive at that stage, there will be no Charles and, I am still more sorry to say, no Henry.
Now, whatever you may think about it, I for one am not prepared to be scrapped and to become part of a dump of oddments waiting instructions for removal from a Bolshevist Disposals Board. You know what these Disposal Boards are; one's body might lie out in the rain for years while the minutes were being passed round the Moscow Departments. I have worried myself to death about it, and now I am going to worry you. I am going to make your flesh creep and your blood run cold. No use your telling me you don't care what is coming along in the future, provided you can be left in peace for the present. I shall tap you on the shoulder and shall whisper into your ear the resolutions passed with regard to you as recently as the end of July last at Moscow.. I'll make you so nervous that you daren't get into bed, and, once in bed, daren't get out again. I expect to have you mad in about three weeks, and even then I shall pass more copies of this paper, with more revelations in them, through the bars of your asylum window.
All that for sixpence a week is not expensive, is it, dear Charles?
(To be continued.)
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Do not delay. The above coats will last only few hours."—New Zealand Star.
* * * * *
"Mr. —— highly recommends his Butler; left through death."—Morning Paper.
Should suit SIR OLIVER LODGE.
* * * * *
"Black Waler Mare, 15-1, six years off, up to 14 stones, easy paces, regularly ridden by a lady touched in wind."—Weekly Paper.
This doesn't matter if the mare is all right.
* * * * *
* * * * *
TO JAMES IN THE BATH.
Without the bolted door at muse I stand, My restive sponge and towel in my hand. Thus to await you, Jimmy, is not strange, But as I wait I mark a woeful change. Time was when wrathfully I should have heard Loud jubilation mock my hope deferred; For who, first in the bathroom, fit and young, Would, as he washed, refrain from giving tongue, Nor chant his challenge from the soapy deep, Inspired by triumph and renewed by sleep? Then how is this? Here have I waited long, Yet heard no crash of surf, no snatch of song. James, I am sad, forgetting to be cold; Does this decorum mean that we grow old? I knew you, James, as clamorous in your bath As porpoises that thresh the ocean-path; Oh! as you bathed when we were happy boys, You drowned the taps with inharmonious noise; Above the turmoil of the lathered wave How you would bellow ditties of the brave! How, wilder that the sea-mew, through the foam Whistle shrill strains that agonised your home. In the brimmed bath you revelled; all the floor Was swamped with spindrift; underneath the door The maddened water gushed, while strong and high Your piercing top-note staggered passers-by. But now I hear the running taps alone, A faint and melancholy monotone; Or just a gentle swirl when sober hope Searches the bath's profound to salve the soap. Sadly I kick the unresponsive door; Youth, with its blithe ablutions, is no more.
* * * * *
IN A GOOD CAUSE.
Among the minor charitable organisations of London not the least admirable and useful is the Santa Claus Home at Highgate, which the two Misses CHARLES have been administering with such devotion and success since 1891. Its modest aim is to keep open twenty beds for small children suffering from hip and spinal disease, and to give them such treatment as will prevent them becoming hopeless cripples; and this purpose hitherto has been fulfilled no one can say exactly how, but with help not only from known friends but mysteriously from the ravens. To-day, however, the high cost of living has set up a very serious obstacle, and debt and failure seem inevitable unless five hundred pounds can be collected quickly. Any reader of Punch moved to bestow alms on as sincere and deserving a a work of altruism as could be found is urged to send a donation to Miss CHARLES, Santa Claus Home, Cholmeley Park, Highgate, N.6.
* * * * *
"Although its run in the evening bill must necessarily be limited to two weeks, steps will be taken to remove it to other quarters should it prove to the taste of the public. That failing, it will continue to be given at the —— Theatre for a series of matinees."—Daily Paper.
The italics are ours, though it is not really our funeral, as we never go to matinees.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE SHRIMP TEST.
At last we have an explanation of a good deal of the social and industrial unrest of recent months. Since April there has been a serious shrimp shortage.
How far this is responsible for dissatisfaction among the miners and other workers it is impossible to say; but in other circles of society this shrimp shortage has been responsible for much. From golf-courses this summer has come a stream of complaint that the game is not what it was. Sportsmen, again, have gone listlessly to their task and have petulantly wondered why the bags have been so poor. House-parties have been failures. In many a Grand Stand nerves have gone to pieces. Undoubtedly this grave news from the North Sea is the explanation. What can one expect when there are no shrimps for tea?
For the eating of shrimps is more than a mere assimilation of nourishment, more even than the consumption of an article of diet which is beneficial to brain tissues and nerve centres. After all, the oyster or the haddock serves equally well for those purposes.
But before one eats a shrimp a certain deftness and delicacy of manipulation are needed to effect the neat extraction of the creature from its unpalatable cuticle. Not so with the haddock.
Shrimp-eating is something more than table deportment; it is a test of sangfroid and savoir faire, qualities so necessary to the welfare of the nation. The man who can efficiently prepare shrimps for seemly consumption, chatting brightly the while with his fair neighbour and showing neither mental nor physical distress, can be relied upon to comport himself with efficiency whether in commerce or statecraft.
Watch a man swallow an oyster, and how much more do you know of him after the operation than you knew before? But put him in a Marchioness's drawing-room and set a shrimp before him, and the manner in which he tackles the task will reveal the sort of stuff he is made of.
The shrimp test is one before which physically strong men have broken down, while the seemingly weak have displayed amazing fortitude.
In these days, when it behoves every man among us to be at his best, we view this famine in shrimps with grave concern, and we trust that the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries is alive to the significance of this crisis.
* * * * *
"Colonel Repington's Diary.
NEW BOOKS. The Revelation of St. John.
NEW FICTION. The Autobiography of Judas Iscariot."—Scotch Paper.
And MARGOT next week.
* * * * *
As I was walking in the rain I met a fairy down a lane. We walked along the road together; I soon forgot about the weather. He told me lots of lovely things: The story that the robin sings, And where the rabbits go to school, And how to know a fairy pool, And what to say and what to do If bogles ever bother you.
The flowers peeped from hedgy places And shook the raindrops from their faces, And furry creatures all the way Came popping out and said "Good-day." But when we reached the little bend Just where the village houses end He seemed to slip into the ground, And when I looked about I found The rain was suddenly all over And the sun shining on the clover.
* * * * *
"CHURCH OUTING.—All arrangements for the outing were made by the Hon. Sec., and we are grateful to him for a very happy day. A walk to —— Church, cricket, tea and a game of bounders formed the programme."— Parish Magazine.
* * * * *
"PRONUNCIATIONS IN THIS PAPER.
Bona fides ... Boner-fy-dees. Grasse ... Grar."—The Children's Newspaper.
* * * * *
* * * * *
MIRIAM'S TWO BABIES.
That last morning at Easthaven, Miriam, alone of us three, preserved her equanimity. I had arisen with the lark, having my own things to pack, to say nothing—though nothing was not the only thing I said—of Billie's pram and Billie's cot and Billie's bath. I wished afterwards I had let the lark rise by himself; if I do heavy work before breakfast I always feel a little depressed ("snappy" is Miriam's crude synonym) for the remainder of the day.
As to Billie, his first farewells went off admirably. He blew a kiss to the lighthouse, that tall friend who had winked at him so jovially night after night. And it was good to see him hoisted aloft—pale-blue jersey, goldilocks and small wild-rose face—to hug his favourite fisherman, Mr. Moy, of the grizzled beard and the twinkling eyes.
But when the time came for Billie to say good-bye to the beach he refused point-blank.
"Billie wants to keep it," he vociferated.
Miriam, woman-like, was all for compromise. Billie should fill his pail with pretty pebbles and take them to London in the puffer-train. I demurred. The fishermen already complained that the south-easterly gales were scouring their beach away. Moreover, as I explained to Miriam, ere long it would devolve upon me to carry the dressing-case, Billie himself and—as likely as not—the deck-chairs and the tea-basket. Why increase my burdens by a hundredweight or so of Easthaven beach?
It ended by her admitting I was perfectly right, and—by Billie filling his pail with pretty pebbles.
I still had that feeling of depression when we returned to our rooms for an early luncheon (there's nothing I so detest); after which we discovered that Miriam thought I had told the man to call for the luggage at 12.45, while I thought that Miriam had told the man to call for the luggage at 12.45.
And then we had to change twice, and the trains were crowded, and Miriam insisted on looking at The Daily Dressmaker, and Billie insisted on not looking at Mother Goose.
At Liverpool Street station I kept my temper in an iron control while pointing out to quite a number of taxi-men the ease with which Billie's pram and Billie's cot and Billie's bath could be balanced upon their vehicles. But the climax came when, Miriam having softened the heart of one of them, we were held up in a block at Oxford Circus, and Billie, a propos of nothing, drooped his under lip and broke into a roar—
"Billie wants the sea-side! Billie wants Mr. Moy!"
I suppose Miriam did her best, but he was not to be quieted, and old ladies in omnibuses peered reproaches at me, the cruel, cruel parent. I frowned upon Miriam.
"Will nothing stop the child?"
"There's a smut on your nose, dear," was all she replied. I rubbed my nose; I also ground my teeth....
I was still wrestling on the pavement with the pram, the cot and the rest of it, when Billie's cries from within the house suddenly ceased. Had the poor little chap burst something? I hurried indoors and found him—all sunshine after showers—seated on the floor with rocking-horse and Noah's ark and butcher's shop grouped around him.
"He's quite good now he's got his toys," he assured me, no doubt echoing something Miriam had just said.
* * * * *
I reached my study and collapsed into a chair. What a day! But little by little, shelf upon shelf, I became aware of the books I had not seen for a whole month: LAMB, my Elizabethans, a row of STEVENSON. I did not want to read; it was enough to feast one's eyes on their backs, to take down a volume and handle it my old green-jacketed BROWNING, for instance. And the small red MEREDITHS all needed rearranging.
A little later I turned round to see Miriam standing in the doorway. Remorse seized me; I put an arm about her, with—"Tired, old thing?"
She looked down at my books and, half-smiling, she looked up again.
"He's quite good now he's got his toys," she said, and kissed me.
* * * * *
Just to see what it looks like with my name in it, I have been making a diary of my doings (some real, some imaginary) in the approved language of the Society and Personal column.
I am Mr. James Milfly. This is how it looks:—
"Yesterday was the fortieth birthday of Mr. James Milfly. He passed it quietly at the office and at home. No congratulatory messages were received and no replies will be sent."
"Among the outgoing passengers on the paddle steamer Solent Tortoise, on Tuesday, was Mr. James Milfly. He returned to the mainland the same evening, and will be at Southsea four days longer, after which, unless he can think of an adequate excuse, he will return to town."
"Mr. James Milfly, who recently sustained a laceration of the finger while cleaning his safety razor after use, passed another good night. The injured member is healing satisfactorily, and no further bulletins will be issued."
"The performance of The Bibulous Butler at the Corinthian Theatre last night was witnessed by Mr. James Milfly and party, who occupied two seats in the eighth row of the pit."
"Mr. James Milfly is a guest for the week-end at Acacia Lodge, Clumpton, the residence of his old friend, Mr. Albert Purges. Excellent sparrow- shooting was enjoyed after tea on Saturday in the famous home coverts from which the lodge derives its title."
"Among those unable to be present at the Duchess of Dibdale's reception on Friday was Mr. James Milfly, no invitation having reached him."
"Mr. James Milfly has been granted his wife's authority to wear on his watch-chain the bronze medal of the Blimpham Horticultural Society, won by his exhibit of a very large marrow at the society's recent show."
"Maria, Mrs. Murdon, is visiting her son-in-law, Mr. James Milfly. Her stay is likely to be a lengthy one."
"Mr. James Milfly will spend the greater part of to-morrow in London. No letters will be forwarded."
Try this for yourself. You have no idea what a sense of pomp and well-fed importance it gives you.
* * * * *
* * * * *
'Fair generally: night frosts,' is the forecast for the next 24 months."—Provincial Paper.
The best news for a long time.
* * * * *
HOW TO BRIGHTEN VILLAGE LIFE.
"The exterior painting of the day school has been completed by the Vicar, assisted by the caretaker. Their appearance is greatly improved as a result."—Provincial Paper.
* * * * *
"—— HOTEL DINING-ROOM.
OPEN TO NON-RESIDENTS WITH ORCHESTRAL ACCOMPANIMENT."—Jersey Paper.
Residents, we understand, need only bring their mouth (and other) organs.
* * * * *
"Wanted, 'Cello (could reside in if desired)."—Provincial Paper.
The housing problem solved at last.
* * * * *
Smith Minor says he would rather be called Smith Secundus. There is a pleasanter sound about that qualification just now.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"A Night Out."
Everybody except myself seems to recall the fact that the late farce of this name, adapted from L'Hotel du Libre Echange, ran for five hundred nights before it expired. Some restorative music has now been applied to it and the corpse has revived. Indeed there are the usual signs of another long run. The trouble is that nearly all the cast at the Winter Garden Theatre seem to think that, if the play is to run, they must run too. They don't keep still for a moment, because they dare not. Even Mr. LESLIE HENSON, whose fun would be more effective if he didn't try so hard, feels that he must be at top pressure all the while with his face and his body and his words. Yet he could well afford to keep some of his strength in reserve, for he is a born humourist (in what one might perhaps call the Golliwog vein). But, whether it is that he underrates his own powers or that he can't contain himself, he keeps nothing in reserve; and the others, less gifted, follow his lead. They persist in "pressing," as if they had no confidence in their audience or their various authors or even themselves.
One is, of course, used to this with singers in musical comedy, who make a point of turning the lyrics assigned to them into unintelligible patter. Perhaps in the present case we lost little by that, though there was one song (of which I actually heard the words) that seemed to me to contain the elements of a sound and consoling philosophy. It ran something like this:—
For you won't be here and I won't be here When a hundred years are gone, But somebody else will be well in the cart* And the world will still go on.
* Or, alternatively, soup.
Mr. LESLIE HENSON, as I have hinted, allowed himself—and us—no rest. His energy was devastating; he gave the audience so much for their money that in the retrospect I feel ashamed of not having paid for my seat. One's taste for him may need acquiring; but, once acquired, there is clearly no getting away from it. Perhaps his most irresistible moment was when he laid out six policemen and then meekly surrendered to a female constable who led him off by the ear.
Mr. FRED LESLIE (a name to conjure with!) was almost fiercely emphatic in the part of Paillard, and I preferred the relatively quiet methods of Mr. AUSTIN MELFORD, who did without italics. Mr. RALPH ROBERTS was droll as a waiter; and it may have been my fault that I found Mr. DAVY BURNABY rather unfunny in the part of Matthieu.
Of the ladies, two could sing and two, or even three, could act (Miss LILY ST. JOHN could do both); nearly all had good looks and a few of them were pleasantly acrobatic.
The scene of the Hotel Pimlico, with an alleged private sitting-room on one side, an alleged bedroom on the other, and a hall and staircase in the middle, was extraordinarily unconvincing. The partition walls came to an end at quite a long distance from the front; and, with the general company spreading themselves at large over the whole width of the foreground, it was very difficult to entertain any illusion of that privacy which is of the essence of the cabinet particulier. I say nothing of the bedroom, whose tenancy was frankly promiscuous.
The fun, of course, is old-fashioned; if one may say it of a French farce, it is Victorian. Apart from a few topical allusions worked in rather perfunctorily there is scarcely anything said or done that might not have been said or done in the 'eighties. But for a certain type of Englishman there is a perennial attraction in feeling that at any moment the proprieties may be outraged. That they never actually are outraged does not seem very greatly to affect his pleasure. He can always console himself with easy conjecture of the wickedness of the original. So there will never be wanting a public for these Noctes Parisianae.
Let us hope that somehow it all helps to keep the sacred flame of the Entente burning. Vive MILLERAND!
* * * * *
BETTERING THE BANYOROS.
(By a Student of Anthropology.)
Sir JAMES FRAZER'S luminous resume of the investigations of the MACKIE Expedition amongst the Banyoros has only one defect. He omits all reference to the subsequent and even more fruitful visit of the Expedition to the adjoining Noxas tribe, whose manners and customs are of extraordinary interest. This remarkable race are noted not merely for their addiction to the dance, but for the kaleidoscopic rapidity with which the dances themselves are changed from season to season. Only a few years ago the entire tribe were under the spell of the Ognat, which in turn gave place to the Tortskof and the Zaj, the last named being an exercise in which violent contortions of the body were combined with the profoundest melancholy of facial expression. Curiously enough the musicians who are employed at these dances are not of indigenous stock, but of a negroid type and are imported from a distance at high salaries.
The literary gifts of this singular tribe are on a par with their saltatory talent, but are at present mainly occupied in the keeping of personal records, led therein by a chieftainess named Togram, in which the conversations, peculiarities, complexions and dresses of their friends are set down and described with ferocious bonhomie. The tablets containing these records are then posted up in conspicuous places of resort, with the most stimulating and entertaining results.
It is noteworthy that the ruler of the country is not chosen from the dancing or Bunihugoro section of the community, but from the powerful Renim clan, who devote themselves intermittently to the task of providing the country with fuel. The chieftain wields great power and is regarded with reverence by his followers, but is in turn expected to devote himself entirely to their interests, and if he fails to satisfy is promptly replaced by a more energetic leader. As the great bulk of the community yield allegiance to an hereditary sovereign of strictly defined powers this interesting country offers the agreeable spectacle of a state in which the dulness of constitutional government is happily tempered by the delights of industrial dictatorship.
* * * * *
TO CERTAIN CAUTIOUS PROPHETS.
(Suggested by the almost invariable form of the last sentence in the Weather Report.)
Ye watchers of the wind and rain, Forgive me for becoming nettled By your monotonous refrain: "The further outlook is unsettled."
When, on a bright and sunlit morn, I rise refreshed and finely fettled Your cue is not to cheer but warn: "The further outlook is unsettled."
They are too rare, these halcyon days, When earth's a paradise rose-petalled, For you to chill us with a phrase: "The further outlook is unsettled."
Too often have I shirked the goal At which (as Scotsmen say) I ettled, Discouraged by your words of dole: "The further outlook is unsettled."
For instance, lately I resigned A trip to Shetland to be shettled; Your menace made me change my mind: "The further outlook is unsettled."
Henceforth I'm going to defy You and your breed, inert, unmettled, Who chant that sad Cassandra cry: "The further outlook is unsettled."
Ay, if I held untrammelled sway I'd have you bottled up and kettled Like djinns, until you ceased to say: "The further outlook is unsettled."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Pigs pays," said Mrs. Pugsley.
"So I have heard."
"Pigs always pays; but Pugsley's pigs pays prodigious."
I rejoiced with her.
"Took 'em up sudden, he did; and now that interested! You'd never think that pigs 'ld twine themselves round a man's heart, so to speak, would you?"
"That's how it is with Willum. Reads nothing but about pigs; they'm his only joy. In partnership with Uncle Eli over them. First time Uncle Eli took to anything wholesome in his life. When Willum loses a pig he's that low that he puts on a black tie. Wonnerful!"
It was. I knew Willum, otherwise Uncle Billy, and something about his tastes. I had the pleasure of meeting him on the foreshore that afternoon. No doubt he was studying pigs; but the title of the book he had in his hand was Form at a Glance.
"Pig form, I presume," said I politely.
"Now then, Missie, don't go giving me away. All's lovely at home. Me and Uncle Eli has clubbed together to buy Bodger's racing tips. Bodger's got brain. Doing very well, we are. Sure, I can't tell the missus, and she a Plymouth Rock."
"Isn't it Plymouth Sister?"
"Maybe; but I think there's a rock in it somewhere. Anyway we agreed when we married to keep our purses in the same drawer, and mine's bulging."
"You are a brave man, Uncle Billy. What about the day she will want to see your pigs?"
"A thought that wakes me at night. We keep 'em out in the country, I'd have you know. There, why take a fence before you come to it? There'll be wisdom given."
Apparently there was, but the address from which the wisdom came was indistinct.
"Willum," said Mrs. Pugsley one day, "to-morrow I'm coming to see they pigs of yours; bless their fat sides!"
"You shall, my tender dear," said Uncle Billy. "Yes, to-morrow noon you'll see the blessed things."
Almost at dawn he presented himself at Farmer Dodge's and astonished that good man by asking to be allowed to hire a few pigs for the day.
Farmer Dodge scratched his head.
"Well, I've been asked to loan out most things in my time, but never pigs before. Where be taking them?"
"That's a matter of better than two miles. Have 'ee thought of the wear and tear and the loss of good lard? No, Uncle Billy, I won't fly against the will of Heaven. If pigs had been meant to go for walks they'd have had legs according. Their legs hain't for walking; they'm for hams."
Uncle Billy drew near and explained. Farmer Dodge grinned.
"To do down your missus? Well, I like a jest as well as any, and to put females in their place is meat and taties to me; but 'tis a luxury, and luxury is what you like but can do without."
In the end Uncle Billy drove a bargain by which he secured the use of six pigs for a few hours and paid three shillings per pig. For three-and-six he also hired the help of a boy to drive them; as he remarked, he could have had more than another pig for that money, but it would be warm work for him alone.
The inhabitants of the houses on the terrace of the little sea-side town where the Pugsleys lived were thrilled at noon by the arrival of a small herd of swine. The animals looked rather tired but settled down contentedly in the front-garden of No. 3.
Mrs. Pugsley, hearing their voices, came to the door.
"Why, Willum, I was just making ready to come out with you to go and see them."
"My tender dear," he said with emotion, "would I let you be taken miles in this heat to see the finest pigs ever littered? No. 'Tis not for my wife to go to see pigs, 'tis for pigs to come to see my wife. Here they be. That's Spion Kop, the big black one—called because 'tis the highest mountain in America and he's to make the highest price. The pink one is Square Measure, for he'll eat his own size in meal any day. That's Diadem—no, it's not; Diadem lost—I should say Diadem's lost to us." Uncle Billy lifted his hat reverently. "The ginger one is Comrade—a fine name."
"Why, 'tis a little sow."
"And what better comrade than a blessed female, my loving dear, and who'd know that better than me?"
"Don't you go mixing me up with the pigs, Willum; I won't have it. What's the name of that perky black one?"
"Mount Royal," said Uncle Billy. "I'm a KING'S man and like to respect they set over me. Royal just means one of the KING'S family."
The parade was dismissed; the herd returned to its home and Uncle Billy paid the cost of wear and tear.
He sat smoking that evening in a state of blissful content. All had gone well; the dreaded black moment was over. Mrs. Pugsley knitted furiously in silence.
"Now what might you be turning over in that mind of yours?" asked Uncle Billy.
"Couldn't do better."
"And their names. Maybe you won't christen any more until after the Cesarewitch."
She folded up her knitting and went to bed, leaving Uncle Billy as if turned to stone. When he recovered he sought out Uncle Eli and said:—
"Eli, she's known all along. She knowed when I was driving they brasted pigs here in the heat. She's never been took in at all. And that's a woman. That's what married me."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"It would be wrong to enter upon political questions in these pages, but there can be no harm in suggesting that prayer should be made as much for our rulers at Westminster as for people in Ireland. The Collect, with certain alterations, for Those at Sea would seem especially suitable."—Exeter Diocesan Gazette.
Very neatly and clerically put.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Undeniably ours is an age in which fond memory fills not only the heart of man but the shelves of the circulating libraries to a degree bordering upon excess. But, let reminiscences be even more frequent than they are, there would yet remain a welcome for such a book as Mr. W.H. MALLOCK'S attractive Memoirs of Life and Literature (CHAPMAN AND HALL). The reason of this lies not more in the interest of what is told than in the fact that these memories have the advantage of being recalled by one who is master of a singularly engaging pen. Nothing in the book better displays its quality of charm than the opening chapters, with their picture of an old-world Devonshire, and in particular the group of related houses in which the boyhood of the future anti-socialist was so delightfully spent. Gracious homes have always had a special appeal to the author of The New Republic, as you are here reminded in a score of happy recollections. Then comes Oxford, and that meeting with SWINBURNE in the Balliol drawing-room that seems to have been the common experience of memoir-writers. Some entertaining chapters give a cheerful picture of London life when Mr. MALLOCK entered it, and Society, still Polite, opened its most exclusive doors to the young explorer. The rest of the book is devoted to a record of friendships, travel, an analysis of the writer's literary activities, and a host of good stories. Perhaps I have just space for one quotation—the prayer delivered by the local minister in the hall of Ardverike: "God bless Sir John; God bless also her dear Leddyship; bless the tender youth of the two young leddies likewise. We also unite in begging Thee to have mercy on the puir governess." A book of singular fragrance and individuality.
The Victorians used to talk, perhaps do still, about the lure of the stage; but I am inclined to suppose this was as nothing beside the lure of the stage-novel. All our writers apparently feel it, and in most cases their bones whiten the fields of failure. But amongst those of whom this certainly cannot be said is Mr. HORACE A. VACHELL, whose new book, The Fourth Dimension (MURRAY), has both pleased and astonished me by its freedom from those defects that so often ruin the theatrical story. For one thing, of course, the explanation of this lies in my sustaining confidence that I was being handed out the genuine stuff. When a dramatist of Mr. VACHELL'S experience says that stage-life is thus and thus, well, I have to believe him. As a fact I seldom read so convincing a word-picture of that removed and esoteric existence. The title (not too happy) means the world beyond the theatre, that which so many players count well lost for the compensations of applause and fame; and the story is of a young and phenomenally successful actress, Jess Yeo, in whom the claims of domesticity and the love of her dramatist husband are shown in conflict with the attractions of West-End stardom and photographs in the illustrated papers. Eventually—but I suppose I can hardly tell that without spoiling for you what goes before the event. Anyhow, if I admit that the ending did not inspire me with any sanguine hope of happiness ever after, it at least put a pleasant finish on an attractive and successful tale.
* * * * *
In the Mountains (MACMILLAN) is one of those pleasant books of which the best review would be a long string of quotations, and that is a very complimentary thing to say about any novel. Written in diary form, on the whole successfully, it tells little of doing and much of being, and a great deal more of feeling than of either. It is scarcely necessary after that to add that it is discursive. As a matter of fact I found that for me that half of its charm which did not lie in being whisked off, as it were by magic, to sit in the sunshine of Switzerland lay in its author's reflections upon subjects quite unconnected with her story, and as far apart from each other as LAW'S Serious Call and the effect of different kinds of underclothing on the outward demeanour of the wearer. From the human document point of view it is as a picture of the convalescence of a soul sick with grief that In the Mountains deserves attention. I cannot imagine that anyone who has ever got well again after sorrow will fail to recognise its truth. The little mystery and the slender love-story which hold the discursiveness together are just sufficient but so slight that they shall not even be hinted at here. For the rest the book is whimsical, thoughtful, sentimental by turns and, in spite of its tolerance, a shade superior; with now and then a phrase which left me wondering whether a blushing cheek would deserve the Garter motto's rebuke; in fact it resembles more than anything else on earth what the "German garden" of a certain "Elizabeth" might grow into if she transplanted it to a Swiss mountain-top.
* * * * *
Peregrine in Love (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is a story whose sentimental title does it considerably less than justice. It gives no indication of what is really an admirably vivacious comedy of courtship and intrigue, with a colonial setting that is engagingly novel. Miss C. FOX SMITH seems to know Victoria and the island of Vancouver with the intimacy of long affection; her pen-pictures and her idiom are both of them convincingly genuine. The result for the reader is a twofold interest, half in seeing what will be to most an unfamiliar place under expert guidance, half in the briskly moving intrigue supposed to be going on there. I say "supposed," because, to be frank, Miss FOX SMITH'S story, good fun as it is, hardly convinces like her setting. You may, for example, feel that you have met before in fiction the lonely hero who rescues the solitary maiden, his shipmate, from undesirable society, and falls in love with her, only to learn that she is voyaging to meet her betrothed. At this point I suppose most novel-readers would have given fairly long odds against the betrothed in question keeping the appointment, and I may add that they would have won their money. Not that Peregrine was going to find the course of his love run smooth in spite of this; being a hero and a gentleman he had for one thing to try, and keep on trying, to bring the affianced pair together, and thus provide the tale with another than its clearly predestined end. Of course he doesn't succeed, but the attempt furnishes capital entertainment for everybody concerned, and proves that Mr. Punch's "C.F.S." can write prose too.
* * * * *
The title of Gold Must be Tried by Fire (MACMILLAN) might be called axiomatic for the precise type of fiction represented by the story. Because, if gold hadn't to be tried by fire, you might obviously marry the hero and heroine on the first page and save everybody much trouble and expense. Mr. RICHARD AUMERLE MAHER, however, knows his job better than that. True, he marries his heroine early, but to the wrong man, the Labour leader and crook, Will Lewis, who vanishes just before the entrance of the strong but unsilent hero, only to reappear (under an alias) in time to get shot in a strike riot. Mr. MAHER'S book comes, as you may already have guessed, from that great country where they have replaced alcohol by sugar, and where (perhaps in consequence) heroines of such super-sentimentality as Daidie Grattan have no terrors for them. Personally I found her and her exploits on burning ships, besieged mills and the like a trifle sticky. For the rest you have some interesting details of the workings of the paper industry; a style that to the unfamiliar eye is at times startling (as when, on page 282, the hero's head "snapped erect"); and lots and lots of love. As for the ending, to relieve any apprehensions on your part, let me quote it. "Taking her swiftly in his arms, he questioned: 'Has the gold come free from the fire at last, my darling?' 'Gold or dross,' she whispered as she yielded, 'it is your own.'" Ah!
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Love's Triumph (METHUEN) is concerned to a great extent with the development of a raw Kentucky lad into an attractive and resourceful man; but its chief interest lies rather with his trainer. When Victor McCalloway arrived in Kentucky and took Boone Wellver under his wing it became obvious enough that he was bent on reconstructing his own life as well as moulding Boone's. McCalloway, when the seal of his past is broken, turns out to be Sir Hector Dinwiddie, D.S.O., K.C.B., a tradesman's son who was generally believed to have killed himself in Paris. I must assume that Mr. CHARLES NEVILLE BUCK intended us to recognise in Sir Hector a certain General whose name acquired a painful notoriety not so long ago. The reader may form what opinion he likes of the good taste of all this, but there can be no question that the author has drawn a fine character. At the outset his style is so jumpy that the story is difficult to follow, but presently its course grows clearer and I fancy that you will follow it keenly, as I did, to the end.
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STRENUOUS LIFE IN THE WEST.
"At a charity concert at Clifton recently nearly 200 glass tumblers disappeared in the course of a week."—Daily Paper.
Very deplorable, of course. Still, towards the end of the sixth consecutive day would the audience be fully responsible?