PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
AUGUST 12, 1914
A gentleman with a foreign name who was arrested in the neighbourhood of the Tyne shipyards last week with measuring gauges and a map in his possession explained, on being charged, that he was looking for work. It is possible that some hard labour may be found for him.
* * *
"Members of Parliament will not suffer," was the comfortable statement of Mr. JOSIAH WEDGWOOD during a speech on the subject of the War. As a matter of fact, owing to the French cooks employed at the House of Commons having returned to their country, the menu at the House will have to consist, until the end of the session, of plain English fare.
* * *
The foresight of the British Public in refusing to subscribe the large amount of money asked of them for the Olympic Sports in Berlin is now apparent.
* * *
Although still under twenty-one years of age, and therefore not yet liable for military service, GEORGES CARPENTIER has gallantly joined the colours as a volunteer. It would be pleasant if he and the Russian HACKENSCHMIDT could shortly meet in Berlin.
* * *
A dear old lady writes to say that she was shocked to read that Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON'S ship, on leaving the Thames, was hooted at by sirens, and that such conduct makes her ashamed of her sex.
* * *
Meanwhile, thoughtful persons are wondering whether there will be any fighting at the South Pole. It will be remembered that the Austrians were also fitting out a South Pole expedition, and friendly rivalry between the two nations may soon become impossible.
* * *
The W.S.P.U. has written to the Press to contradict the statement that the Union has issued instructions that acts of militancy are to be suspended during the European crisis. The Union, we understand, considers the statement calculated to cause serious injury to its reputation.
* * *
Which reminds us that The Liverpool Evening Echo was, we fancy, the only paper in the country to announce a sensational victory for feminism, and we congratulate our contemporary on its coup. We refer to the following announcement:—"At a meeting of the Fellows of All Souls' College, Oxford, Mrs. Francis William Pember was elected Warden in place of the late Sir William Anson."
* * *
The Hon. Sec. of the Fresh Air Fund appeals to ladies to send him their hair combings, every pound of which will provide a poor child with a day in the country. We like this idea of turning Old Hair into Fresh Air.
* * *
The London General Omnibus Company is appointing one lady and a number of men to act as interpreters and guides. Their costumes, we should say, will attract a considerable amount of attention, for the lady, we are told, will wear a braided frock coat and black skirt and straw-topped peak hat, while the men will work in double shifts.
* * *
By the way it is rumoured that several of our railway companies intend to follow the example of the L. G. O. C. and employ interpreters to translate to passengers the names of the railway stations as announced by porters and guards.
* * *
At the recent meeting of the British Medical Association at Aberdeen a doctor advocated the eating of onions and garlic. This should certainly produce an uninhabited area in one's immediate neighbourhood, and so render one less liable to catch infectious diseases.
* * *
"I know not," says Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT, "why I find an acrid pleasure in beholding mediocrity, the average, the everyday ordinary, as it is; but I do." Can it be, ARNOLD, because we are all attracted by our opposites?
* * *
We are authorised to deny the allegation that Lord GLADSTONE, when he was booed upon his arrival at Waterloo from South Africa, remarked gaily, "Ah, I see I have not done with my friends the Booers yet!"
* * *
It is nice to know in these days of lost reputations that Oriental hospitality, at any rate, shows no signs of decadence. A correspondent has come across the following announcement in a tailor's shop in Tokio:—"Respectable ladies and gentlemen may come here to have fits."
* * * * *
Illustration: "DO YER LOVE ME, 'ERB?"
"LOVE YER, 'LIZA, I SHOULD JEST THINK I DOES. WHY, IF YER EVER GIVES ME UP I'LL MURDER YER! I CAN'T SAY MORE'N THAT, CAN I?"
* * * * *
"The lasting delightful perfume of the age. One who can prove that the perfume of Otto Mohini is not lasting for four days by putting five drops on the handkerchief will be rewarded Rs. 100 cash. Try only small tube and get the reward."—Advt. in "The Hitavada."
* * * * *
"Dr. Roux, head of the Pasteur Institute, has made a communication to the Academy of Science showing microbes is not only possible, but would be far better."
But we don't quite see what the Academy can do about it.
* * * * *
"MINIATURE & PORTRAIT PAINTING
MR. ALFRED PRAGA, R.B.A.,
President of the Society of Manicurists."
Advt. in "The Studio."
We know an artist whose work gives us the impression that he might be President of the Society of Chiropodists.
* * * * *
"Lord Provost Stevenson is proving a serious rival to Principal MacAlister as a linguist. Sir Daniel yesterday addressed public gatherings in English, Italian, and Spanish."
Now that he has mastered English, he must have a try at Scotch.
* * * * *
"You are Germans. God help us."
Berlin Castle. Signed "WILLIAM."
* * * * *
England, in this great fight to which you go Because, where Honour calls you, go you must, Be glad, whatever comes, at least to know You have your quarrel just.
Peace was your care; before the nations' bar Her cause you pleaded and her ends you sought; But not for her sake, being what you are, Could you be bribed and bought.
Others may spurn the pledge of land to land, May with the brute sword stain a gallant past; But by the seal to which you set your hand, Thank God, you still stand fast!
Forth, then, to front that peril of the deep With smiling lips and in your eyes the light, Stedfast and confident, of those who keep Their storied scutcheon bright.
And we, whose burden is to watch and wait— High-hearted ever, strong in faith and prayer, We ask what offering we may consecrate, What humble service share?
To steel our souls against the lust of ease; To find our welfare in the general good; To hold together, merging all degrees In one wide brotherhood;—
To teach that he who saves himself is lost; To bear in silence though our hearts may bleed; To spend ourselves, and never count the cost, For others' greater need;—
To go our quiet ways, subdued and sane; To hush all vulgar clamour of the street; With level calm to face alike the strain Of triumph or defeat;—
This be our part, for so we serve you best, So best confirm their prowess and their pride, Your warrior sons, to whom in this high test Our fortunes we confide.
* * * * *
A DETERMINED ISLAND.
Anything more peaceful than the outward aspect of the Isle of Wight, as I have seen it from Totland Bay during the past week, it would be impossible to conceive. For the most part the sun has been shining from a blue sky on a blue and brilliant sea; men, women and children have been swimming and splashing joyfully in a most mixed manner, and the whole landscape has had its usual holiday air. These, however, are deceptive appearances. We have felt and are feeling the imminence of war, and, though our judgments are firm and patriotic and prepared for sacrifice, our minds are clouded with a heavy anxiety. Our newspapers arrive at about 11 o'clock, and at that hour there is a concentrated rush to the book-shop. There we make our way through stacked volumes of cheap reprints to the counter where two ladies are struggling womanfully against the serried phalanx of purchasers. These two dive head-first from time to time into a great pile of the morning's news and emerge triumphantly with The Times for Prospect House or The Telegraph for Orville Lodge, and so on through the crowd of applicants until all are satisfied. This is the great event of our day. At the grocery stores on the opposite side of the road, news telegrams are shown on a board, and with these we eke out the knowledge of our fluctuating fate. Close by, too, is posted up a proclamation by the officer commanding the troops in the Island. He bids us not to walk too near a fort or to convey to any casual person such knowledge as we may have gained about the movements of troops, and we are commanded "to at once report" anything suspicious. I am sure the gallant officer will display as much vigour in the battering of his country's foes as he has shown in the splitting of the KING'S infinitives. Going for my newspaper this morning I saw at a distance an elderly gentleman of a serious aspect revolving steadily round and round a tall iron post. It was not until I came closer that I realised the meaning of his strange gyrations. The proclamation had been inconsiderately pasted round the post and he was endeavouring to read it.
On Thursday last, nearly a week before the actual proclamation of war, the wildest rumours were afloat here. A motherly lady assured me with a smile that the German fleet might be expected at any moment. "The British fleet," she told me, "has been overwhelmed and sunk in the North Sea. The Germans have determined to capture the Isle of Wight, so we are none of us safe." I asked her where she had heard this dreadful news. "Oh, it's all over the village." Thereupon she moved calmly into a bathing cabin and had a patriotic dip. In another quarter I was told that the Island could not fail to be cut off, and awful things were prophesied as to what would happen to us unless we made our way to the mainland with the utmost promptitude. The supply of eggs was to run short; meat was to go up to famine prices or be reserved entirely for the soldiery, our intrepid defenders; bread was to become a luxury obtainable only by millionaires. All this was reported on the authority of a man who had it from another man who had it from a banker who was in close touch with the War Office in London. So far what is true is that steamers no longer come to Totland Bay, and anyone who wants to visit us here can get no nearer by boat than Yarmouth—not, of course, the home of the bloater, but our own little island Yarmouth, round the corner. In the meantime a good deal of patriotic self-denial is going on amongst the juvenile population. A friend of mine, aged seven, hearing the talk about all the coming privations, has decided to remove chocolates, buns and sponge-cakes from his dietary, and several young ladies have agreed to take milk instead of cream with their breakfast porridge.
This morning we were brought face to face with the grimmest reality of war we have so far experienced. A boy-scout called at the house and produced an official paper asking for the names and addresses of any aliens who might be residing in the house. We have one such alien, a German maid for the children, a most unwarlike and inoffensive alien. Her name was entered on the form and the boy-scout disappeared to call at other houses. Since then, at intervals of about half-an-hour, other boy-scouts have called and produced similar forms. I have just dismissed a party of three, telling them that they seemed to be overlapping. They smiled and said, "Thank you," and retired. I look out of the window and behold two more approaching. They are doing the thing thoroughly.
P.S.—Another notice is out warning us that it is known there are a lot of spies in the Island, and that we must not loiter near a fort lest we be shot. It is rumoured that soldiers are to be billeted on us (enthusiastic cheers from the younger members of the family).
R. C. L.
* * * * *
"Turnip, beef, carrots, and onions, if of suitable variety, would in a favourable autumn yield fair-sized bulbs."—Manchester Evening News.
New Song. "When father carved the bulb."
* * * * *
Illustration: BRAVO, BELGIUM!
* * * * *
All books should be in one volume. I always thought so, but now I know. The reason why I know is because I possess two or three thousand books, and I have recently moved into a new house, and the books were at first put on the shelves indiscriminately as they came out of the packing cases. And how better spend a wet bank holiday than in arranging them properly—bringing parted couples together, adjusting involuntary divorces, reuniting the separated members of families and tribes?
This is the merciful work on which Parolles and I have been engaged for too long. (I call her Parolles because she is so fond of words of which neither the meaning nor pronunciation has quite been mastered.) We meet each other all over the house with pathetic inquiries, "Have you seen Volume IV. of Dumas' Memoirs?" "No, but have you noticed Volume I. of Fors Clavigera?" It is like a game of "Families."
The worst of the game is that one cannot concentrate. I may ascend the stairs bent wholly upon securing Volume III. of PROTHERO AND COLERIDGE'S Byron, and then chancing to observe Volume II. of INGPEN'S Boswell I leap at it in ecstasy and, forgetting all about the noble misanthrope, hasten back with this prize and join it to its lonely mate.
My Dictionary of National Biography, for all its fifty-eight volumes, not counting Supplements or Errata, was simple, on account of its size and unusual appearance. But what word can I find to express the annoyance and trouble given us by a small Pope in sheepskin? We roamed the house together—there are shelves in every room—striving to collect this family; but three of them are still on the loose. There is a Balzac, too, in a number of volumes not mentioned on any title-page and not numbered individually, so that time alone can tell whether that group is ever fully assembled. But as we placed them side by side we could almost hear them sigh after their long separation—though whether with satisfaction or annoyance who shall say? Volumes, may be, can get as tired of their companions as human beings can.
During such an occupation as this a vast deal of time vanishes also in trying to remember where it was that I saw that copy of Friendship's Garland, so as to place it with the other Arnolds. Even more time goes in dipping into books which I had clean forgotten I possessed, such as The Cricketers' Manual, by "Bat," in which my eyes alighted upon this excellent story:
"The Duchess de Berri, being present at a match between two clubs of Englishmen at Dieppe [in 1824], looked on very attentively for nearly three hours, then, turning to one of her attendants, said, 'Mais, quand est-ce que le jeu va commencer?'" But the time which I have frittered away in this frivolity is as nothing compared with that wasted by Parolles, who has a way of subsiding upon the ground wherever she may happen to be and instantly becoming absorbed in the printed page. It is not as if she exercised any selective power, as I do. All books are the same to her in that they contain type on which the eye can fasten to the detriment of her labour. In every room I have stumbled over her long black legs as she thus abused her trust.
And not only has she read more than I have, but she has become steadily dirtier than I, too; partly because of a native flair for whatever makes smears and smudges, and partly because, her hair being long and falling on the page, owing to her crouched attitude when perusing, it has to be swept back, and each sweep leaves its mark. Considering how they set themselves up to be superior and instruct, books are curiously grubby things.
And, as I said before, they should be in one volume.
* * * * *
Illustration: First Politician. "SAY, BILL, WOT'S THIS BLOOMIN' MORTUARIUM THEY BE TARKIN' SO MUCH ABOUT?"
Second Politician. "WELL, YE SEE, IT'S LIKE THIS. YOU DON'T PAY NOTHIN' TO NOBODY AND THE GOVERNMENT PAYS IT FOR YE."
First Politician. "WELL, THAT SOUNDS A BIT OF ALL RIGHT, DOAN'T IT?"
* * * * *
THE PROBLEM OF LIFE.
The noise of the retreating sea came pleasantly to us from a distance. Celia was lying on her—I never know how to put this nicely—well, she was lying face downwards on a rock and gazing into a little pool which the tide had forgotten about and left behind. I sat beside her and annoyed a limpet. Three minutes ago I had taken it suddenly by surprise and with an Herculean effort moved it an eighteenth of a millimetre westwards. My silence since then was lulling it into a false security, and in another two minutes I hoped to get a move on it again.
"Do you know," said Celia with a puzzled look on her face, "sometimes I think I'm quite an ordinary person after all."
"You aren't a little bit," I said lazily; "you're just like nobody else in the world."
"Well, of course, you had to say that."
"No, I hadn't. Lots of husbands would merely have yawned." I felt one coming and stopped it just in time. Waiting for limpets to go to sleep is drowsy work. "But why are you so morbid about yourself suddenly?"
"I don't know," she said. "Only every now and then I find myself thinking the most obvious thoughts."
"We all do," I answered, as I stroked my limpet gently. The noise of our conversation had roused it, but a gentle stroking motion (I am told by those to whom it has confided) will frequently cause its muscles to relax. "The great thing is not to speak them. Still, you'd better tell me now. What is it?"
"Well," she said, her cheeks perhaps a little pinker than usual, "I was just thinking that life was very wonderful. But it's a silly thing to say."
"It's holiday time," I reminded her. "The necessity of sprinkling our remarks with thoughtful words like 'economic' and 'sporadic' is over for a bit. Let us be silly." I scratched in the rock the goal to which I was urging my limpet and took out my watch. "Three thirty-five. I shall get him there by four."
Celia was gazing at two baby fishes who played in and out a bunch of sea-weed. Above the sea-weed an anemone sat fatly.
"I suppose they're all just as much alive as we are," she said thoughtfully. "They marry"—I looked at my limpet with a new interest—"and bring up families and go about their business, and it all means just as much to them as it does to us."
"My limpet's business affairs mean nothing to me," I said firmly. "I am only wrapped up in him as a sprinter."
"Aren't you going to try to move him again?"
"He's not quite ready yet. He still has his suspicions."
Celia dropped into silence. Her next question showed that she had left the pool for a moment.
"Are there any people in Mars?" she asked.
"People down here say that there aren't. A man told me the other day that he knew this for a fact. On the other hand, people in Mars know for a fact that there isn't anybody on the Earth. Probably they are both wrong."
"I should like to know a lot about things," sighed Celia. "Do you know anything about limpets?"
"Only that they stick like billy-o."
"I suppose more about them is known than that?"
"I suppose so. By people who have made a speciality of them. For one who has preferred to amass general knowledge rather than to specialize it is considered enough to know that they stick like billy-o."
"You haven't specialized in anything, have you?"
"Only in wives."
Celia smiled and went on, "How do you make a speciality of limpets?"
"Well, I suppose you—er—study them. You sit down and—and watch them. Probably after dark they get up and do something. And of course, in any case, you can always dissect one and see what he's had for breakfast. One way and another you get to know things about them."
"They must have a lot of time for thinking," said Celia, regarding my limpet with her head on one side. "Tell me, how do they know that there are no men in Mars?"
I sat up with a sigh.
"Celia, you do dodge about so. I have barely brought together and classified my array of facts about things in this world, when you've dashed up to another one. What is the connection between Mars and limpets? If there are any limpets in Mars they are fresh-water ones. In the canals."
"Oh, I just wondered," she said. "I mean"—she wrinkled her forehead in the effort to find words for her thoughts—"I'm wondering what everything means, and why we're all here, and what limpets are for, and, supposing there are people in Mars, if we're the real people whom the world was made for, or if they are." She stopped and added, "One evening after dinner, when we get home, you must tell me all about everything."
Celia has a beautiful idea that I can explain everything to her. I suppose I must have explained a stymie or a no-ball very cleverly once.
"Well," I said, "I can tell you what limpets are for now. They're like sheep and cows and horses and pheasants and—and any other animal. They're just for us. At least so the wise people say."
"But we don't eat limpets."
"No, but they can amuse us. This one"—and with a sudden leap I was behind him as he dozed and I had dashed him forward another eighteenth of a millimetre—"this one has amused me."
"Perhaps," said Celia thoughtfully and I don't think it was quite a nice thing for a young woman to say, "perhaps we're only meant to amuse the people in Mars."
"Then," I said lazily, "let's hope they are amused."
* * * * *
But that was nearly three weeks ago. Ten days later war was declared. Celia has said no more on the subject since her one afternoon's unrest, but she looks at me curiously sometimes, and I fear that the problem of life leaves her more puzzled than ever. At the risk of betraying myself to her as "quite an ordinary person after all" I confess that just at the moment it leaves me puzzled too.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
THE EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCE.
It was a seaside railway station, the arriving place of one of those health resorts where people flock in their millions to enjoy a little peace and quiet together. He, no doubt as a punishment for a misspent youth, was the station-master; she was one of those many kind ladies who come to meet their relatives and to make their arrival even more peaceful and quiet than such events usually are.
"Was that the train from London?" she asked him.
He temporized. "Have you asked a porter?" he enquired.
"And have you asked another porter?"
She nodded again.
"And then the foreman porter? And then a ticket collector? And then the inspector? And then a casual post-man? And then did you come across your original porter and try him again?"
She admitted the list without a blush.
"And now tell me all about your dear lost one—a weak, helpless man, no doubt?"
"It was my husband," she explained.
"A medium-sized man, in a macintosh and a straw hat, of course?"
"But none the less," continued the official, "a man of sterling worth? You do not think he can be in some lost property office en route, waiting to be called for?"
The suggestion was an attractive one, but was rejected. "Then," he said, "let us go and discuss this intimate tragedy in some less public spot."
He took her to his office and begged her to be seated. "Repose all confidence in me, Madam," he said, "for I am not without experience in husbands. Good fellows on the whole, with their gladstone bags and their pince-nez and their unmistakable respectability. But somehow they have not acquired the knack of arriving when they are expected. Yours is the seventh who has failed us by this train. True, the other six were coming from Liverpool, whereas the 6.30 has come from London, but that is no excuse for them or us."
"My husband is coming from London," she asserted, searching in her reticule for documentary evidence.
He looked out of the window, avoiding her eye. "In less than twenty minutes we have a nice fat competent train arriving partly from Birmingham, partly from Manchester, partly from Sheffield and partly from Birkenhead. There is even a dusty bit at the end which will have come all the way from Scotland, though why I cannot say. It will be simply full of husbands; you wouldn't care to try it, at any rate to let us show it you?"
"But my husband," she repeated.
"Is essentially a London man? Madam, we do not wish you to take any of these husbands we shall show you if they do not suit your requirements; but do let us show them you."
"I know that my husband is coming from London," she persisted.
"Believe me, Madam," he protested, "I should not accuse you of being mistaken, even if your husband should prove to be in this train I recommend. He might have deceived you."
She refused to budge. "My husband's postcard says he is coming in the 6.30 train from London. The train has come and he is not in it."
The station-master asked to be allowed to see the postcard, not, he explained, because he didn't believe her, but because he would like to have his worst suspicions of his Company's inefficiency confirmed.
She handed it to him. He read the announcement, made briefly and without enthusiasm, of the husband's proposed arrival "by the 6.30 train to-morrow." The woman smiled with triumph; the station-master referred to the postmark. He did not smile triumphantly. He was too old a hand for that.
"Will you allow me to intercede as a friend for all parties?" he asked. "Give him and us another chance; go away now and give us all twenty-four hours to think it over. Then call again, and, if your patience is rewarded, be generous and forgive us all."
After some debate she was induced to see reason in the proposal and consented to take the lenient course. She rose to go.
"And if," said the station-master, showing her out, "if a train should arrive at 6.30 from London to-morrow and disgorge this husband of yours, won't you do us all a little kindness? Won't you make a point of telling the porter, all the porters, foremen porters, ticket collectors, inspectors, casual postmen and even myself? You have no idea what a change it would be for us to hear a lady saying, 'My husband ought to have come by this train, and he has!'"
* * * * *
Illustration: FINANCIAL STRINGENCY AT THE SEASIDE; A GOOD PENNYWORTH.
* * * * *
OUR LOYAL STATUARY.
"An attempt was made by the fountain in Piccadilly Circus to head a procession for Buckingham Palace to pay homage to King George."—Daily Mail.
* * * * *
ANOTHER SMART ARREST BY THE POLICE.
"Sergt. —— found Mrs. —— sitting in a pool of blood in a semi-conscious condition. The flow of blood was arrested, and a doctor summoned."—Northern Echo.
* * * * *
OUR MUSICAL CORRESPONDENCE COLUMN.
(With acknowledgments to "The Musical Herald.")
I THINK I am a tenor, but after taking lessons continuously for six years from sixteen different masters I am still in doubt, and what is more, I am not quite certain whether I want to be. Did not somebody once say that a tenor was not a man but a disease? I am a healthy normal subject, and recently won the lawn-tennis singles at our local tournament. What puzzles me is my upper register. After reaching the top A, if I relax the wind pressure and slant the voice in a slightly backward direction towards the nasal cavities, I can produce a full rich B flat, or even C, with the greatest ease. My family do not like it, but family criticism is seldom satisfactory. Can you tell me whether this is a legitimate use of my vocal resources or not; also, whether the resinous quality of my voice is likely to be affected by my wearing stand-up collars of more than 2-1/2 inches in height? I have read somewhere that starched linen is a bad conductor of sound.—MARIO JUNIOR.
ANSWER.—It is hard to tell whether you are a tenor or a forced-up baritone without hearing or seeing you. Tenors are generally short, stubby men with brief necks, while baritones are for the most part tall, spare and long-necked. It was HANS VON BUELOW who said that a tenor was a disease, but he was a pianist and a conductor. Do not "grouse" if you can sing tenor parts and yet retain the volume and virility of a baritone. JEAN DE RESZKE began as a baritone and is said to have earned L20,000 a year. The nasal tone that you speak of, when it approximates to the whinnying of a horse or, better still, the trumpeting of an infuriated rogue elephant, is a most valuable asset, but should be used with moderation in the family circle. Do not say "resinous"; "resonant" is probably the word you mean. High stand-up collars are certainly to be avoided, as they constrict the Adam's apple and muffle the tone of the voice. A soft turn-down collar, such as those supplied by Pope Bros., is greatly to be preferred and imparts a romantic and semi-Byronic appearance highly desirable in an artist.
I am a railway porter with a good bass voice, and having read that the great Russian singer who has been appearing at Drury Lane began life in that position and is now paid at the rate of L400 a night, I am anxious to follow his example, if I can obtain adequate guarantees of success.—CLAPHAM JUNCTION.
ANSWER.—It is always dangerous to generalise from exceptional individual cases. Are you over six feet high, and have you corn-coloured hair and blue yes, like CHALIAPINE? Again, Russian railway porters are in the habit of shouting the names of stations, not only in a loud voice, but with scrupulously clear articulation. Do not rashly abandon your career on the railway on the off-chance of a vocal Bonanza. Remember the words of the poet:—
O, ever since the world began, There never was and never can Be such a very useful man As the railway porter!
My voice is of good compass and volume, but it is lacking in the "rich fruity tone" which, according to popular novelists, is indispensable to the exertion of a magnetic influence on the hearer. Is it possible by diet to remedy this deficiency?—CONTRALTO.
ANSWER.—The use of an emollient diet is recommended by some authorities with a view to improving and enriching vocal tone. You might try a course of Carlsbad plums, Devonshire cream, and peach-fed Colorado ham. But it is easy to overdo the plummy tone, which is apt to become cloying.
Kindly explain the following terms taken from an article on SCRIABINE which recently appeared in a leading daily paper: Psychical conjunctivitis; Katzenjammer; Cephaloedematous; Hokusai; Asininity. What is the difference between the portamento and "scooping"? Why do opera singers show such a marked tendency to embonpoint? Am I wrong in preferring the cornet to any other wind instrument?—ANXIOUS ASPIRANT.
ANSWER.—This is not a general information bureau, but we will do our best. (1) Conjunctivitis is properly a disease of the eyes; "psychical conjunctivitis" would be a sort of mental squint. "Katzenjammer" is the German for "hot coppers." "Cephaloedematous" is not in the New Oxford Dictionary, but apparently applies to a sufferer from swelled head. HOKUSAI was a Japanese artist, and "asininity" is the special quality of the writer of the article from which you have taken these words. (2) "Scooping" is the vulgarisation of the portamento, (3) Operatic singers grow stout because they drink stout; also because much singing tends to expand the larynx, pharynx and thorax, as well as the basilico-thaumaturgic cavities of the medulla oblongata. (4) There is nothing criminal in preferring the cornet to any other wind instrument. Many pious people prefer MARIE CORELLI to MILTON.
* * * * *
THE DOUBLE LIFE.
When Araminta said that I must speak to the man next door about his black cat, I was greatly perturbed. It appeared that the animal had acquired the habit of spending the night in our house, and that Harriet didn't like it. I said that black cats brought good luck, and, anyhow, by night all cats were grey. Araminta replied that this one was as black as a bilberry and took fish. Walking out into the garden I began to meditate deeply.
Perhaps you do not immediately grasp what a terrible and dangerous thing it was that Araminta had requested me to do. Between next door neighbours in the area of Greater London there subsist relations of an infinite delicacy. They resemble the bloom upon a peach. They combine a sense of mutual confidence and esteem with absolute determination not to let it get any further. Mr. Trumpington (Harriet vouched for his name) and myself were certainly acquainted. In a sense you may even say we were friends. If I happened to be murdered or assaulted by a footpad there was not the smallest reason to suppose that Mr. Trumpington would refrain from giving the police every assistance in identifying the criminal. Similarly, if Mr. Trumpington's house caught fire, it was certain that I should be one of the first to offer him the loan of our garden syringe.
As things were, what happened was this. Twice or thrice a week we nodded pleasantly to each other over the wall that divided our demesnes, through the interstices of our respective hollyhocks; once, only once, in a mad burst of irresponsible gaiety, Mr. Trumpington had gone so far as to murmur, "Good aft-" to me, and I had responded effusively, "-ernoon."
And now all this atmosphere of quiet sociableness was about to be destroyed through the paltry misdemeanours of a subfuse cat. For I had not the smallest doubt as to what would happen. Mr. Trumpington was a mild amiable-looking man. There was not the faintest prospect of his flying into a rage. He would not say, "What right have you to interfere with the private affairs of another man's domesticated fauna?" He would not ask me why I had inveigled his beautiful black cat on to my poisonous premises. No, we should talk together reasonably, amicably, and as man to man. Mr. Trumpington would promise to do all he could to give his cat pleasant, cheerful evenings at home, and I should agree that it was very hard to prevent a young cat from wanting to see a bit of life. "Cats," we should say, nodding our heads wisely, "will be cats."
And then from cats we should pass on to dogs, to sport, to politics, to business, to heaven knows what. And the next day we should be compelled to pick up our conversation where we had dropped it. We should discuss our gardens and our family affairs. Things would go from bad to worse. All our privacy and peace would disappear. We might almost as well break down the wall that divided us at once. Possibly (thought of horror) his wife would call on Araminta....
Still pondering ruefully, I turned round at the bottom of the garden path, and behold, sitting on the party-wall between Mr. Trumpington's garden and mine, was the debateable cat. An impulse of murderous rage possessed me. I took an old golf-ball from my pocket and hurled it as hard as I could at the potential destroyer of my peace. The black cat was no sportsman. It dodged, and disappeared hastily on the Trumpington side. At the same moment from behind a large clump of hollyhocks I heard the sudden cry of a strong man in pain, followed by a stilled oath. I squatted down instantly behind a thick rosebush; then, rising to peer cautiously, I saw a most painful sight. I saw the horrible transformation which may be caused in the features of an ordinary and amiable man by an access of sudden rage and the impact of a brambled golf-ball on the end of the nose. I squatted again.
"Confound the infernal fool! Who did that?" said the face of Mr. Trumpington, looking through the hollyhock peepholes, the buds of which rapidly began to turn from a lightish pink to deep rose.
It is always a more dignified policy to ignore a man in a temper, so it was not until about ten minutes had elapsed, and silence reigned, that I crawled painfully away into safety.
About five minutes later a note was brought round by hand from next door. It ran as follows:—
"Mr. Trumpington will feel greatly obliged if Mr. Brown will prevent his black cat from constantly straying upon his, Mr. Trumpington's, flower-beds. He also requests that when Mr. Brown wishes to persecute his black cat he should not do so when the animal is sitting on Mr. Trumpington's wall, as this practice is attended with considerable risk to Mr. Trumpington's life and limbs."
I sat down and wrote a reply.
"Mr. Brown," I said, "greatly regrets that a golf-ball playfully thrown at Mr. Trumpington's black cat whilst sitting on his, Mr. Brown's, wall, should have caused annoyance to Mr. Trumpington."
* * * * *
When I went out into the garden on the following day I could see Mr. Trumpington's head, tastefully framed in pink hollyhock buds, apparently following the spoor of a green-fly. He looked up almost at once and caught my eye, but made no sign of recognition. I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank heaven, I thought to myself, the worst has not happened. The danger that I feared yesterday has blown over. There is no immediate prospect of Mr. Trumpington and myself becoming boon companions. I strolled a little further down the path, and, still occupying its old strategic position on the party-wall and licking its fur in the sun, I beheld the black cat.
As I approached him he smiled an ambiguous smile, and jumped down once more upon Trumpington soil. A wave of great friendliness for the unhappy quadruped swept over me. "Persecute," I thought; "not likely." I went indoors and, after a short consultation with Harriet, came out again carrying a small round fish-cake on a spoon. I lobbed it far and wide over the wall, and it fell noiselessly and quite in the middle of Mr. Trumpington's most buttony calceolaria-bed. Some time later I was rewarded by the sight of a black cat stealing with a look of grateful memory on its face towards the Trumpington back-door.
* * * * *
Illustration: Customer. "BUT THAT'S A FEARFUL PRICE FOR SHRIMP-PASTE."
Grocer. "AH, BUT THESE ARE NORTH SEA SHRIMPS, MADAM."
* * * * *
Illustration: "I'D GIVE THE GERMAN EMPEROR WOT; I WOULD, STRAIGHT. I'D PULL EVERY FEAVER AHT OF 'IS 'ELMET."
* * * * *
THE RESTORATIVE POWER OF MUSIC.
My house, though in the eyes of the rate-collector fully occupied, has now for several weeks stood with an unmistakably vacant stare. My cook alone, with a young lady friend for company, dwells there. What our great ballad-writers call the patter of tiny feet is stilled. The seaside has demanded its toll, and I have for a time accompanied the evacuating host.
The other day, for a brief space, I returned home—a home which at the first glance seemed to be as I had left it. But as I approached I was confronted with a change. The gate, which in normal times used to swing shakily on its hinges and keep on chattering against its post (in the vain effort to shut) whenever the wind was in its teeth, now leaned against an adjacent bush in listless inaction. One of its hinges had been broken. I learned the details of the tragedy from the gardener.
It was one of them I-talians, I gathered. Seeing, with the nice instinct of their race, that my house must be the abode of music-lovers—detecting this from various subtle signs invisible to me—they had drored their horgan through the gateway and up the grand carriage sweep which, leading to the handsome portico entrance, is one of the outstanding features of all that well-situated and desirable double-fronted brick and carved stone residential property which recently I was wise enough to acquire for a mere song. Well, these I-talians had drored their instrument up the drive and played to the front door for ton minutes. The cook and her friend, I learned afterwards, heard them and, being satisfied to enjoy the entertainment without payment, had remained out of sight. For ten minutes they played, the man turning the handle, his wife smiling and bowing to the windows. Then, in the fine frenzy known to all great artists who are unrecognised, they drored it down again to the gate. The fine frenzy was proved by the fury with which the woman flung wide the portal that the horgan might be drored out. She flung it back too far, and the hinge, a soulless thing of cast-iron, snapped.
The gardener—no musician—who had happened to see them arrive, and, anticipating trouble, had been watching unperceived, hurried to the scene of the catastrophe.
"I knowed they was a-goin' to do it," he said, "the 'inge bein' in a bad way already. It's lucky there was a policeman 'andy. I said you'd 'ave the law of 'em."
"But I don't want the law of them," I protested.
"Well, they're going to pay for a new 'inge any'ow."
"Rather hard luck on them, isn't it? I can't make them do that."
"Don't you worry your 'ead, Sir," said the gardener. "It don't come out of their pocket. All these I-talians is run by one man. Millionaire, so they tells me. Any'ow, it's settled now."
"Well, perhaps it'll teach them to be more careful."
"I 'ope not, Sir," said the gardener. "'Ave another one or two of 'em in 'ere, and we'll get the gate so as it won't bang."
* * * * *
SCIENCE FOR THE YOUNG.
"Aunt Phemie" in The Globe:—
"A hen is a bird and not an animal."
This official statement will come as a great surprise to all our feathered friends.
* * * * *
"He no longer on his return would proclaim to his brother that he had beaten old Major Waggett (his especial foe) by two up and three to play."—Methuen's Annual.
And why not? Because his brother had just bought a shilling book called "Golf for the Beginner." However, he could still tell his Aunt Lavinia, who knew no better.
* * * * *
Illustration: FOR FRIENDSHIP AND HONOUR.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, Aug. 3.
—When EDWARD GREY stood at Table to make momentous statement on position of Great Britain confronted by spectacle of Europe in arms, he faced a memorable scene. House crowded from floor to topmost range of Strangers' Gallery. LANSDOWNE, "BOBS," GEORGE CURZON and other Peers looked on and listened. Amongst them LORD CHIEF JUSTICE for first time obtained view of House from novel point of vantage.
Owing to spread of complications, supply of Ambassadors accustomed to repair to Diplomatic Gallery restricted. No room for Germany to-day. Absent, too, the popular figure of Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, familiar these many years in London Society. Russia, Spain, Sweden and Greece were there in the persons of their representatives; and Belgium, conscious that words about to be uttered were big with her fate.
The sight they looked down upon was strange and moving. Setting of scene worthy of drama which finds no full parallel in world's history. Keen eyes accustomed to study potentialities of nations discerned in the gathering a new portentous fact. A week ago to-day political parties in House of Commons preserved customary attitude of hostility. Across the floor they snapped at each other distrust and dislike. Long-brooding revolt of armed forces in Ireland had leaped into flame. Mob and military had come to blows. Victims of the affray lay dead in the streets of Dublin. In the House rancour between Unionists and Home Rulers increasingly bitter.
Here was opportunity for loyal and trusted friend on the Continent to play long-planned game. England's difficulty was Germany's opportunity. Swiftly, unscrupulously, taken advantage of.
Foreign Representatives to-day beheld a startling transformation. Party lines obliterated. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, whose conduct throughout crisis has been splendidly patriotic, rallied his forces to the side of Ministers.
"Whatever steps they think it necessary to take for the honour and security of this country," he said amid burst of general cheering, "they can rely upon the unhesitating support of the Opposition."
This attitude, in full accordance with highest tradition of British Party politics, not unexpected. Glad surprise followed when JOHN REDMOND assured the Government they might forthwith withdraw from Ireland every man of their troops.
"The coasts of Ireland," he added, "will be defended from foreign invasion by our armed sons. For this purpose Nationalist Catholics in the South will be only too glad to join hands with armed Protestant Ulstermen in the North."
Illustration: IN A JUST CAUSE. (Sir EDWARD GREY.)
"The last time I saw rows of chairs brought in and set down on floor of the House for convenience of Members who could not find room elsewhere," mused the MEMBER FOR SARK, looking on from one of the side galleries, "was in 1886, when GLADSTONE introduced his first Home Rule Bill. Twelve months earlier, under guidance of Land League, Ireland was in a parlous state. Coercion Act in full force. Jails thronged with patriots convicted under its rigorous clauses. Still there were left at liberty enough to maim cattle and shoot at landlords. If Germany had happened to step in at that epoch it would have been a perilous time for England. The House of Commons after many years' hesitation has offered to bestow Home Rule upon Ireland and this is Ireland's first articulate response. Her Nationalists range themselves with Ulster by the side of Great Britain threatened by a foreign foe."
Business done.—FOREIGN SECRETARY, amid prolonged cheers, announces that England means to stand by France in the coming war, and will fulfil her Treaty obligations to Belgium.
Tuesday.—Rising from Treasury Bench PREMIER walked down House as if he were about to leave it by glass door. Reaching the Bar he halted and turned about to face crowded benches watching him with quickened anxiety. Grave events have within the last few days made him the Herald of War. What might be this new missive he held in his hand?
"A message from HIS MAJESTY," he said, "signed by his own hand."
Advancing to Table he handed document to the Clerk who passed it on to SPEAKER. All heads were bared as Message was read. It announced that Proclamation would forthwith issue mobilising the Regular Army and embodying Territorial Forces.
This the significant supplement to statement made by PREMIER immediately on SPEAKER taking the Chair. It told how telegram had that morning been sent to German Government demanding assurance of maintenance of Belgian neutrality.
"We have asked," said the PREMIER as quietly as if he were mentioning request for early reply to a dinner invitation, "that a satisfactory answer shall be given before midnight."
House knew what that meant. On the stroke of midnight Great Britain and Germany would be at war.
A cheer almost fierce in its intensity approved the epoch-making challenge. The House knew that England's hands were clean; that she was spotlessly free from responsibility for the slaughter and sorrow, the destruction of prosperous cities, the devastation of fruitful lands, the breaking-up of Empires, that might follow on Germany's final jack-booting of the emissary of peace.
Since the danger-signal was flung out by thrusting to the front the puppet figure of aged AUSTRIAN EMPEROR making ponderous attack on little Servia, EDWARD GREY, representing a Ministry supported by a loyal Parliament and a united Kingdom, has night and day been tireless in effort to avert war. If yielded to, such interference would be fatal to plans, diligently elaborated in the dark over a period of months, probably a full year, by our old friend and frequent guest, the GERMAN EMPEROR.
Accordingly, after maintaining till last moment favourite disguise of peacemaker "on easy terms with Heaven," WILLIAM, innocent sufferer by "the menace of France," throws aside the cloak.
House of Commons' immediate response was to pass in five minutes all outstanding votes for Army, Navy and Civil Services amounting to L104,642,055.
Business done.—PREMIER announces dispatch of ultimatum to Berlin and imperative demand for answer before midnight.
Wednesday.—Benches less crowded than hitherto during week of tumultuous interest. Explanation forthcoming in fact that something like a hundred Members belonging to Territorial Service have buckled on their armour and responded to call of mobilisation.
PREMIER'S announcement that "since eleven o'clock last night a state of war has existed between Germany and ourselves" hailed with deep-throated cheer. Its volume nothing compared with that which burst forth when he concluded statement with casual remark that to-morrow he will move a Vote of Credit for one hundred millions sterling. Had he mentioned the sum as an instalment paid in advance by Germany on account of war indemnity House couldn't have been more jubilant.
BYLES of Bradford uneasy in regard to Bill introduced by HOME SECRETARY authorising imposition of restrictions upon aliens in time of war or great emergency. Thinks it might cause inconvenience to worthy persons. Otherwise Government receive unanimous support for various legislative proposals rendered necessary by state of war.
CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER reports conclusions arrived at in conference of leading bankers and manufacturers met at the Treasury to consider best way of grappling with unprecedented financial situation created by events of past fortnight. Happy thought to include in invitation his predecessor at the Treasury. In accordance with patriotic spirit obliterating party animosity, SON AUSTEN promptly accepted invitation. Gives valuable assistance to LLOYD GEORGE in recommending proposals to appreciative House.
In short, whatever may be happening in Belgium or the North Sea, Millennium reigns at Westminster.
Business done.—Many Bills advanced by various stages.
Thursday.—In moving Vote of Credit for one hundred million sterling PREMIER wholesomely lets himself go in comment on the "infamous proposal" of Germany that for a mess of pottage (extremely thin) England should betray her ally, France. Crowded House loudly sympathised with righteous indignation.
Fresh burst of cheering when he pays finely phrased tribute to EDWARD GREY, as the "Peacemaker of Europe."
Captain Lord DALRYMPLE of the Scots Guards lends opportune gleam of martial splendour to bench where he sits arrayed in khaki uniform that has seen service in the Boer War. The PREMIER'S eye catching a glimpse of it, he with great presence of mind asked for authority to strengthen the army by an additional half-million of men.
In its present mood the House denies him nothing.
Business done.—Vote of Credit for L100,000,000 granted with both hands.
Monday, Aug. 10.—House adjourned till Tuesday the 25th.
* * * * *
Illustration: "ONE TOUCH OF POTSDAM...."
Sir EDWARD CARSON. "A marvellous diplomatist, this German KAISER."
Mr. JOHN REDMOND. "Yes, he's made comrades of us when everybody else had failed."
* * * * *
The Mad Dog of Europe.
"The dog, to serve some private ends, Went mad and bit the man.
* * *
The man recovered from the bite; The dog it was that died."
* * * * *
THE PROPOSAL TO DECREASE THEIR SIZE TO THE EDITOR Of 'THE TIMES.'"
And to increase it, we hope, to Mr. CHESTERTON.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S HOLIDAY STORIES.
(Constructed after the best models.)
I.—AN ALPINE ADVENTURE.
[SYNOPSIS OF PRECEDING INSTALMENT:—Ralph Wonderson, the famous athlete, while on a mountaineering expedition in Switzerland, encounters Lady Margaret Tamerton, whom he has not seen since childhood. With her are her brother, Lord Tamerton; her cousin, Sir Ernest Scrivener; and three Swiss guides. They combine to make an ascent of the Wetterhorn under Ralph's leadership. Early in the climb Ralph discovers that Sir Ernest Scrivener is none other than his own mortal foe, Marmaduke Moorsdyke. A perilous traverse of a glacier has to be undertaken. All cross in safety except Sir Ernest, who makes imprudent remark which causes a line of overhanging seracs to collapse upon him and sweep him down the glacier. Ralph dives unhesitatingly to the rescue of his deadliest foe.]
Rather than face a second traverse of the awful glacier the remaining members of the party continued the ascent. With shaken nerves they pressed on to the best of their ability, but it was nearly dark when they at length reached the summit, hoping to find another and easier route to the foot.
But luck was against them. A devastating blizzard enveloped them, and they lay huddled together behind a rock, chilled to the bone by the driving particles of ice and snow.
"There is no escape," said Lord Tamerton mournfully to his sister, Lady Margaret. "We must prepare to meet our deaths like true mountaineers."
"True fiddlesticks!" replied Lady Margaret with spirit. "Ralph will come back to us."
"Do you love him, Madge?" asked her brother.
"Yes," she replied simply.
"Then he will surely come back."
Even as he spoke a tall figure loomed out of the blizzard and raised his hat with cold formality.
"Your cousin is safe in the hospital at Interlaken," said Ralph, addressing Lord Tamerton with marked constraint. "He has merely sustained a fractured patella. With your permission we will now descend."
"What is the matter, Ralph?" cried Lady Margaret pleadingly; but, ignoring her question, he busied himself in tying on the rope.
The descent which followed is still spoken of with bated breath by the Swiss guides, than whom there is no more generous body of men in the world.
Unerringly Ralph led his companions through aretes, glissades, bergschrunds, ruecksacs, gendarmes, vorwaerts, couloirs, aiguilles, never hesitating, never flinching from any obstacle, heedless, it seemed, alike of the raging blizzard and the ever-thickening darkness. At times he was obliged to carry the others one by one along razor edges of hard blue ice. At times he would cling precariously by one hand to a projecting splinter of rock, while with the other he lowered them all bodily into the depths of a crevasse, gripping his ice-axe meanwhile steadfastly between his teeth. Once at least he was compelled to hang downwards by his toes while he hewed steps beneath him in a perpendicular wall of ice. And through it all his face retained its stern impassivity and he addressed no word to his exhausted companions.
At length the most wonderful feat in the history of climbing was finished, and the party, weary but thankful, stood at the foot of the mountain.
The three guides fell on their knees before their rescuer, but he ignored them and turned his cold, hard gaze upon Lady Margaret.
"You are now safe," he said icily. "My presence is no longer necessary. Take the third turning on the left, the second on the right and the fifth on the left, and then ask again. Before I leave I ought perhaps to congratulate you upon your approaching marriage to your—er—amiable cousin;" and without waiting for a reply he was gone.
* * * * *
Alone, Ralph Wonderson sat upon a rock and reflected that no food had passed his lips since that hurried breakfast in the Fahrjoch Hut. Wearily he drew out a packet of sandwiches from his pocket.
A moment later he was racing back to his former companions. In his day he had been half-mile champion, but now he knocked a full minute off his previous best time.
He found the others as he had left them. Lady Margaret looked up with a glad cry as he flew round the corner.
"Madge," he cried, waving the piece of newspaper which had been wrapped round his sandwiches,—"Madge, you can't marry him!"
Lord Tamerton leaped forward with a white face. "What do you mean?" he hissed. "You are mad. She must marry him, or the family is ruined."
"She can't marry him," repeated Ralph calmly. "Sir Ernest Scrivener alias Marmaduke Moorsdyke is married already! Read this."
And he thrust the fragment of newspaper into Lord Tamerton's hand.
With a low cry of content Lady Margaret fell into her lover's arms. "Oh, my dear!" she murmured.
And as they stood clasped in a close embrace the clouds parted and far, far above them appeared the beautiful white summit of the Wetterhorn shining dazzlingly in the sunlight.
* * * * *
Illustration: "BUSINESS AS USUAL DURING ALTERATIONS."
* * * * *
SPIT FOR SPAT.
Orator, in Hyde Park:—
"An' when the German Ambassador left St. Petersburg 'e spat in the Russian Ambassador's face. An' the Russian Ambassador in Berlin 'e spat in the German Ambassador's face."
* * * * *
IN ORDER OF MERIT?
"Full reports of the Petersfield Gymkhana, Eastmeon Show, and Liphook Horticultural Exhibition and Sports, will be published in to-morrow's issue of the 'Hampshire Telegraph and Post,' which will contain also a complete record of news of the Great European War."—Portsmouth Evening News.
* * * * *
The following letter was addressed to a Hong Kong chaplain by his orderly:—
"Pleas sur excuse me this morning for I ham sitting for my examining asion at the peak schools for my certificate sur and I will be down as soon as possible sur to deliver the letters sur And if I ant there before you go away sur put the keys under the steeps sur."
We feel confident he passed all right.
* * * * *
ON ACTIVE SERVICE.
Every August Bank Holiday we have a short Mixed Open Tournament at our lawn-tennis club. It's quite a small, homely affair, but as our President, Sir Benjamin Boogles, always offers two valuable prizes (hall-marked), every member who can possibly enter does so. Each year hitherto the Tournament has been finished in the one day; but this year it is not finished yet—in fact, in one instance the first game of the first set is still undecided, and the winners in the other sets are anxiously awaiting the result in order that the second round may proceed before the end of the season. As I am one of the actors—I might almost say the protagonist—in this protracted drama, I will explain the position.
Wilbrooke, our crack player, who can easily give most of us forty and a bonus of five games in the set, and still beat us, recently became engaged to Pattie Blobson, who is a hopeless rabbit at the game, this being her first season. Not unnaturally she insisted on his entering the Tournament with her. I always enter with Joan, and though we are neither of us exactly rabbits it would be rather hard to find a zoological term that would fittingly describe our standard of play. Of course there is no handicapping in "Opens," and Joan and I usually reckon to be knocked out in the second round at latest, though we did once get into the third round owing to one of our opponents, a doctor, being summoned to a case in the middle of play.
Now this year we both thought our tennis would be over for the day after the first quarter of an hour, as we were drawn to play our first round against Wilbrooke and Pattie. However, I won the toss, and to that fact the subsequent impasse may be attributed. I elected to serve first, leaving Wilbrooke the choice of sides. The sun was not shining, so there was little in it from the point of view of light; but the east end of the court is just a trifle higher than the other, so he chose that.
I served first, and though I never peg them in to rabbits, I felt justified in sending down a medium-paced ball in my partner's interests. It pitched correctly, broke (unintentionally) and buried itself in Pattie's skirt.
I banged my first ball to Wilbrooke with all my might. It fell within the Club precincts, but that's the best I can urge for it. My second was an easy lob, which he smashed, and, in spite of my efforts to give it a clear path, it caught me in the small of the back.
My next serve to Pattie was a fault, which I followed up with an ordinary "donkey" drop, towards which she rushed in the impetuous fashion characteristic of the genuine rabbit, with the result that it bounced scathless over her head.
I then got a fast ball over to Wilbrooke, but returning it was child's play to him, and he drove it like lightning down the centre-line before I had time to call "Leave it to you, partner."
Again I served Pattie a fault. At the second attempt the ball performed Blondin tricks on the wire of the net, and for one of those "moments big as years" I feared we had lost the game, the service to Wilbrooke being a mere formality; but fortunately the ball fell the other side of the net, and my third delivery Pattie tipped to the wicket-keeper.
I now determined to send two—if necessary—fast ones to Wilbrooke on the chance that one might shoot and be unplayable. But my first ball went into the net, and the locale of the second can only be dimly surmised, for it went over the fence into the open country.
It was at this point that I began to realize that so long as I did not serve a double-fault to Pattie, Wilbrooke could never win the game, and when we had played nine more deuces I communicated the intelligence to Joan. Meanwhile, the other sets had all finished, and the players came up to see why we were still hard at it. At the twenty-fourth deuce the Tournament secretary remarked: "Last game, I suppose? Hurry up, we can't get on." I explained to him that this was only the first game of the set, and that similar prolongations were likely to recur when my partner served in the third game and I again in the fifth.
The news spread rapidly, and for a time we were the most unpopular quartet in the Club; but by the time we had reached our eighty-third deuce, and luncheon (the gift of Lady Boggles) was served, hunger and anger began to abate simultaneously, and the situation was discussed with humour to the exclusion of all other topics. At the end of the morning's play I was certainly feeling a trifle done up, but it says much for the recuperative properties of chicken galantine and junket that after the interval I felt quite invigorated and good for service ad infinitum. Efforts were made to induce us to toss for the set, but neither of us would consent to this, Wilbrooke maintaining that under normal conditions I could not possibly win the game, and I arguing that under existing conditions—with which I was more intimately concerned—I could not possibly lose it, and therefore to toss would be a mockery. Thus there was no alternative but to play on.
I suggested to Joan that as her presence on the court was not strictly essential she should join in a friendly set with some of the other unemployed. But she would not hear of it. She wanted to be in at the finish, if there was ever going to be a finish, she said; and so we continued.
When we were summoned to tea (kindly provided gratis by Miss Vera Boogles) we had amassed 265 deuces, and though my right arm ached and my service was a trifle wobbly I was still scoring the vantage point (and losing it at once) with the utmost regularity. But the temporary cessation of hostilities, associated with about half-a-pound of Swiss roll and three Chelsea buns, served to restore me, and after tea we went at it again until half-past seven, when, with the score at 394 deuces, the net got tired and collapsed, and we adjourned.
We have since met on every available evening in our endeavours to bring the game to a conclusion; but the score is still deuce, and at that it will probably remain unless one of the following contingencies arises:—
(1) Pattie may improve so much with the constant practice that she will be able to return my service; in which case it will settle the game, for wherever we put the ball Wilbrooke is bound to get hold of it and drive or smash it so that we can't return it.
(2) I may serve Pattie a double-fault. But I am now in splendid training; my right biceps is like a cricket-ball, and I feel that I could serve all day without tiring. Besides, the quality of my service is improving, which counteracts, in a measure, the possible improvement in Pattie's game.
(3) We may get a bright sunshiny evening, when the sun will be straight in Wilbrooke's eyes; in which case, with my improved service, I may possibly get a fast ball over which he will be unable to see.
Anyway, it is now certain that I belong to the Bulldog Breed.
* * * * *
Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON as reported in The Evening News:—
"The last articles which we took on board were two gramophones with a large number of records and a case of hyacinth blubs."
The last-named are often mistaken for spring onions by those who come too near with their lachrymal nerves.
* * * * *
Illustration: A SONG FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
"WHERE MY CARAVAN HAS RESTED."
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
As in the enervating luxury of peace, so in the stern stringency of war we have always a use, and a good use too, for the humourist. But he must be a jester of the right sort; not bitter nor flippant, not over boisterous nor too "intellectual." Humour for humour's sake is what we want, and in these anxious hours something to make us laugh quietly and unhysterically, if only by way of temporary relief. Mr. IAN HAY hits the mark about eight times in every ten in A Knight on Wheels (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), which is not at all a bad proportion for three hundred and nineteen pages. He has some delightful ideas, which, happily, he does not overwork: a case in point is the brief but rapid career of Uncle Joseph, who employs the most criminal methods in order to attain the most charitable ends. The story is a simple one—youth, laughter and love; and the motor car plays an important but not a tiresome part in it. The author's attitude towards women is slightly cynical but very lighthearted, and clearly he loves them all the time: indeed, I think Mr. HAY, while alive to existing faults, loves everything and everybody. In return most people will be prepared to love him. And he deserves to be loved for the sake of a book which has a happy beginning, a happy middle and a happy end, together with lots of incidental laughter.
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"There is a teacup storm in the Close, I hear. The Dean altered the time of closing the Minster for summer cleaning or some such trifle, and did not consult the Chapter, which had already made its holiday arrangements." This sentence, chosen at random from Quisquiliae, the diary of Henry Savile, will do well enough to support my contention that Dr. Ashford and His Neighbours (MURRAY) is going to be a great boon to the cathedral cities of our Midland shires. Under the form of a narrative of social life in Sunningwell, Dr. WARRE CORNISH has elected to arrange his views on religion, art, literature, politics and the questions of the day, sometimes putting them into the mouths of his characters and sometimes into the note-book of the afore-mentioned Henry Savile, a leisured cripple whose disquisitions on letters and on people are, if a trifle rambling, at any rate delightfully critical and much more interesting and profound than certain others which flow periodically from the windows of cloistered retreats. Mr. Henry Savile quotes from the Classics perhaps a little too freely for the taste of a decadent age, and his friends, Dr. Ashford, Lady Grace, the bishop's wife, Olive, her niece, and Philip Daly, nephew of an archdeacon and parliamentary candidate for Sunningwell, would be a little more amusing if they were treated in a more Trollopian manner, and did not so faithfully discuss the burning controversies of the time. But, after all, the great excitement in Dr. Ashford and His Neighbours (and I really cannot advise any resident in—shall we say Mercia?—to be without it) is the chance it affords for such questions as: Who is the Dean? Does the author really mean Canon X? Are we living in Sunningwell, or is it L——? Even I myself, in this metropolitan backwater, have made one or two ingenious guesses, but wild taxicabs would not drag them from me.
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At this time of day to attempt criticism upon a new novel by MISS RHODA BROUGHTON seems almost impertinent. The tens of thousands to whom she has given such pleasure before now would probably be willing to read anything that was put before them with the guarantee of her name. Fortunately in the case of Concerning a Vow (STANLEY PAUL) this confidence would be by no means misplaced. I can say at once, with my hand upon my reviewer's heart, that in freshness and vivacity and power of sprightly character-drawing here is a story that need fear comparison with none of its most popular predecessors. The vow of the title was that exacted by Meg Champneys on her death-bed from her sister Sally, binding the latter not to marry Edward Branley. Edward, in some fashion that was never made quite clear to me, had previously jilted both the sisters. But this all happened before the beginning of the book. In it poor Edward is made so pitiable and heart-broken a figure that I found it hard to credit his previous infidelities. However, most of the other characters detested him, and said that nothing was too bad for him; and as they themselves were delightful and quite human people I am ready to suppose that they had their reasons. Of course Edward and Sally were really in love all the time, and of course too they find resistance to this impossible; though I must own that their method of circumventing the vow reminded me dangerously of the young man who used a cigarette-holder because he had been told to keep away from tobacco. I speak flippantly; but as a matter of fact the story of Edward and Sally is not free from tragedy, very simply and movingly told. If Concerning a Vow does not add to Miss BROUGHTON'S popularity it will only be because this is impossible; it certainly will do nothing to lessen it.
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Illustration: Barber (to victim.) "WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE AEROPLANE AS A MILITARY ASSET?"
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I think that Mr. W. R. TITTERTON is a little late in the day; his book, Me as a Model (PALMER), recalls happy memories of that past and already romantic period when Trilby was the talk of the hour and Paris the centre of all Bohemian licence. Mr. TITTERTON has the DU MAURIER manner, but his jocular skittishness, aided by asterisks, exclamation marks and suspensive dots, has curiously little behind it. It is not enough to-day to paint the gay impropriety of models and the devil-may-care penury of lighthearted artists. Trilby began the movement, Louise ended it, and Mr. TITTERTON is behind his day. I am glad, however, to learn that he was so splendid a model. The students at JULIEN'S fall back aghast before his magnificent figure, and now, in every gallery in Europe, sculptures and paintings of Mr. TITTERTON are to be seen by the vulgar crowd, very often for no charge at all; and that, of course, is delightful for Europe. And, according to his title, that is doubtless the final impression that the author wishes to convey. I intend on my next trip abroad to search for Mr. TITTERTON in all the galleries. My only means of discovery are the pictures of the author with which his book is filled, and here, if the illustrator (a very clever fellow) is to be trusted, I am frankly puzzled by the attitude at JULIEN'S towards their model. There is very little in these illustrations to justify it.
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If I am not mistaken, The Jam Queen (METHUEN) marks the first incursion of Miss NETTA SYRETT into humorous fiction. In that, or any, case, she has written a story which deserves a considerable success. The Jam Queen is to a large extent what would be called in drama a one-part affair. There are plenty of other characters, many of them drawn with much unforced skill, but the personality of the protagonist, the Jam Queen herself, overshadows the rest. Mrs. Quilter is an abiding joy. There have been plutocratic elderly women, uneducated but agreeable, in a hundred novels before this; but I recall few that have been treated so honestly or with so much genuine sympathy. Mind you, Miss SYRETT is no sentimentalist. Ill-directed philanthropy, Girtonian super-culture, the simple life with its complexities of square-cut gowns and bare feet—all these come beneath the lash of a satire that is delicate but unsparing. Yet with it all she has, as every good satirist should have, a quick appreciation of the good qualities of her victims. Even Frederick, the pious, as contrasted with the flippant, nephew of aunt Quilter—Frederick, with his futile institute for people who want none of it, his blind pedantry, and his actual dishonesty in what he considers a worthy cause—even he is punished no further than his actual deserving. Perhaps in telling you that Mrs. Quilter has two nephews, an idle and an industrious one, I have told you enough of the scheme. It is, after all, no great matter. Mrs. Quilter must be the reason for your reading the book, and your reward. She is real jam.
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The tales Miss ETHEL DELL includes Within The Swindler (UNWIN) pleased me,
Not by their thrills or interludes Of tenderness—these hardly seized me; Not by their people, though the pack Were amiable and pleasant creatures, Barring the villains who were black And villainous in all their features.
By none of these my pulse was jerked Out of its normal calm condition, But by the plots, with which I worked A quite exciting competition; A point was mine if, at the start, I guessed the way a yarn was tending; Miss DELL'S, if by consummate art She failed to use the obvious ending.
The first two tales she won on; three And four were mine; five hers; six, seven And eight I got hands down; and she Got square with nine and ten. Eleven Is still unwritten, and I bide Impatiently its birth, for that'll Finally, so I trust, decide The issue of our hard-fought battle.