Punch, Or The London Charivari, Vol. 146., January 21, 1914
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, William Flis, and the Online Distributed
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
January 21, 1914.
[Illustration: "NOT VERY SPORTING LINKS, ARE THEY?"
EVEN EARTHQUAKES HAVE THEIR USE.
"AH, THAT'LL MAKE BETTER GOLF."]
* * * * *
MAJOR-GENERAL LEONARD WOOD, chief of the U.S.A. General Staff, has
reported that the American Army is, practically speaking, unarmed,
and advises the immediate expenditure of L1,200,000 for artillery and
ammunition. We fancy, however, that the present state of affairs is
the result of a compromise with the American Peace party, who will not
object to their country having an army so long as it is unarmed.
"VICTORY FOR THE ORANGE WOMEN.
DRURY LANE INSTITUTION TO CONTINUE."
This should put heart into the Orange Men of Ulster.
We hear that, to celebrate the recent glorious victory in Alsace, the
little town of Zabern is to be re-named Saebeln.
The Rev. N. FITZPATRICK, describing a visit to the Balkan States in
a lecture at the Camera Club, spoke of the difficulties he had with
his laundry. The same bundle of clothes was soaked in Roumania,
rough-dried in Bulgaria, and ironed in Servia. We are astonished
that the lecturer should have made no mention of mangling, which we
understand is done well in the Balkan States.
The KAISER, we are told, has given instructions that his _menus_ are
in future to be written in German. What, by the way, _is_ the French
Mr. ARCHIBALD, a member of the Australian House of Representatives,
has calculated that the value of the property of the five million
inhabitants of the Commonwealth is L780,000,000. We cannot but think
it is a mistake to divulge the fact with so many dishonest people
_I do like your eyes_ is the latest bright thought for a Revue title.
To be followed, no doubt, by _Her nose isn't bad, is it?_ and _What's
wrong with her toes?_
"FRENCH BATTLESHIP DROPPED."
_Pall Mall Gazette_.
Very careless of someone.
Reading that one of the features of the new British battleship class
will be less draught, Aunt Caroline remarked that she was glad to hear
this: she had always understood that during even half a gale it was
very easy to catch cold at sea.
Sir RUFUS ISAACS has decided to take the title of Lord READING. This
still leaves it open to a distinguished literary man, should he be
made a peer, to become Lord Writing.
The age of pleasure! Where will it stop? Extract from _The Witney
Gazette_:--"On Monday evening a very successful dance was given in the
Corn Exchange ... The company numbered over one hundred, and dancing
to the strains of Taylor's Oxford Scarlet Band was enjoyed till the
early hours of Wednesday morning."
While Police Constable JAKEMAN was in Eldon Road, Reading, last week,
a cat suddenly pounced on him and bit him. We have not yet received
a full account of the incident, but apparently the constable was on
detective duty and cleverly disguised as a mouse.
One of the cats shown at the Grand Championship Cat Show had her fur
cut and trimmed like a poodle's. The matter has been much discussed in
canine circles, and we understand that there may be trouble.
An express train travelling from Nice to Macon was, last week, beaten
by an eagle, which raced it over a distance of eighteen miles. Birds
are evidently being put upon their mettle by the aeroplanes.
Alleged notice outside Drury Lane:--
N.B.--CHAUFFEURS ARE KINDLY
REQUESTED NOT TO HOOT
From Paris comes the news that a successor to the Tango has been
found in the form of a Chinese dance known as the Tatao. The name,
presumably, is a contraction of the words "Ta-ta, Tango."
A new character named "It" appears in the revival of _The Darling of
the Gods_. We presume it is The Limit.
The manager of the Little Theatre is making arrangements for shilling
seats for the first time in the history of the house. How is it going
to be done? By _Magic_, of course.
"The Shepherdess without a Heart" continues to make good progress, and
the medical profession is much interested.
* * * * *
A FAREWELL TOUR.
This is positively Chum's last appearance in print--for his own sake
no less than for yours. He is conceited enough as it is, but if once
he got to know that people are always writing about him in the papers
his swagger would be unbearable. However, I have said good-bye to
him now; I have no longer any rights in him. Yesterday I saw him off
to his new home, and when we meet again it will be on a different
footing. "Is that your dog?" I shall say to his master. "What is he? A
Cocker? Jolly little fellows, aren't they? I had one myself once."
As Chum refused to do the journey across London by himself, I met him
at Liverpool Street. He came up in a crate; the world must have seemed
very small to him on the way. "Hallo, old ass," I said to him through
the bars, and in the little space they gave him he wriggled his body
with delight. "Thank Heaven there's _one_ of 'em alive," he said.
"I think this is my dog," I said to the guard, and I told him my name.
He asked for my card.
"I'm afraid I haven't one with me," I explained. When policemen touch
me on the shoulder and ask me to go quietly; when I drag old gentlemen
from underneath motor-'buses, and they decide to adopt me on the spot;
on all the important occasions when one really wants a card, I never
have one with me.
"Can't give him up without proof of identity," said the guard, and
Chum grinned at the idea of being thought so valuable.
I felt in my pockets for letters. There was only one, but it offered
to lend me L10,000 on my note of hand alone. It was addressed to "Dear
Sir," and though I pointed out to the guard that I was the "Sir," he
still kept tight hold of Chum. Strange that one man should be prepared
to trust me with L10,000, and another should be so chary of confiding
to me a small black spaniel.
"Tell the gentleman who I am," I said imploringly through the bars.
"Show him you know me."
"He's _really_ all right," said Chum, looking at the guard with his
great honest brown eyes. "He's been with us for years."
And then I had an inspiration. I turned down the inside pocket of my
coat; and there, stitched into it, was the label of my tailor's with
my name written on it. I had often wondered why tailors did this;
obviously they know how stupid guards can be.
"I suppose that's all right," said the guard reluctantly. Of course I
might have stolen the coat. I see his point.
"You--you wouldn't like a nice packing case for yourself?" I said
timidly. "You see, I thought I'd put Chum on the lead. I've got to
take him to Paddington, and he must be tired of his shell by now. It
isn't as if he were _really_ an armadillo."
The guard thought he would like a shilling and a nice packing case.
Wood, he agreed, was always wood, particularly in winter, but there
were times when you were not ready for it.
"How are you taking him?" he asked, getting to work with a chisel.
"Underground?" I cried in horror. "Take Chum on the Underground?
Take--Have you ever taken a large live conger-eel on the end of a
string into a crowded carriage?"
The guard never had.
"Well, don't. Take him in a taxi instead. Don't waste him on other
The crate yawned slowly, and Chum emerged all over straw. We had an
anxious moment, but the two of us got him down and put the lead on
him. Then Chum and I went off for a taxi.
"Hooray," said Chum, wriggling all over, "isn't this splendid? I say,
which way are you going? I'm going this way?... No, I mean the other
Somebody had left some of his milk-cans on the platform. Three times
we went round one in opposite directions and unwound ourselves the
wrong way. Then I hauled him in, took him struggling in my arms and
got into a cab.
The journey to Paddington was full of interest. For a whole minute
Chum stood quietly on the seat, rested his fore-paws on the open
window and drank in London. Then he jumped down and went mad. He tried
to hang me with the lead, and then in remorse tried to hang himself.
He made a dash for the little window at the back; missed it and
dived out of the window at the side; was hauled back and kissed me
ecstatically, in the eye with his sharpest tooth ... "And I thought
the world was at an end," he said, "and there were no more people.
Oh, I am an ass. I say, did you notice I'd had my hair cut? How do
you like my new trousers? I must show you them." He jumped on to my
lap. "No, I think you'll see them better on the ground," he said, and
jumped down again. "Or no, perhaps you _would_ get a better view if--"
he jumped up hastily, "and yet I don't know--" he dived down, "though
of course, if you--Oh lor! this _is_ a day," and he put both paws
lovingly on my collar.
Suddenly he was quiet again. The stillness, the absence of storm
in the taxi was so unnatural that I began to miss it. "Buck up, old
fool," I said, but he sat motionless by my side, plunged in thought. I
tried to cheer him up. I pointed out King's Cross to him; he wouldn't
even bark at it. I called his attention to the poster outside the
Euston Theatre of The Two Biffs; for all the regard he showed he might
never even have heard of them. The monumental masonry by Portland Road
failed to uplift him.
At Baker Street he woke up and grinned cheerily. "It's all right,"
he said, "I was trying to remember what happened to me this
morning--something rather-miserable, I thought, but I can't get hold
of it. However it's all right now. How are _you_?" And he went mad
At Paddington I bought a label at the bookstall and wrote it for him.
He went round and round my leg looking for me. "Funny thing," he said
as he began to unwind, "he was here a moment ago. I'll just go round
once more. I rather think ... _Ow!_ Oh, there you are!" I stepped off
him, unravelled the lead and dragged him to the Parcels Office.
"I want to send this by the two o'clock train," I said to the man the
other side of the counter.
"Send what?" he said.
I looked down. Chum was making himself very small and black in the
shadow of the counter. He was completely hidden from the sight of
anybody the other side of it.
"Come out," I said, "and show yourself."
"Not much," he said. "A parcel! I'm not going to be a jolly old parcel
"It's only a way of speaking," I pleaded. "Actually you are travelling
as a small black gentleman. You will go with the guard--a delightful
Chum came out reluctantly. The clerk leant over the counter and
managed to see him.
"According to our regulations," he said, and I always dislike people
who begin like that, "he has to be on a chain. A leather lead won't
Chum smiled all over himself. I don't know which pleased him
more--the suggestion that he was a very large and fierce dog, or the
impossibility now of his travelling with the guard, delightful man
though he might be. He gave himself a shake and started for the door.
"Tut, tut, it's a great disappointment to me," he said, trying to
look disappointed, but his back _would_ wriggle. "This chain
business--silly of us not
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE BLACK MAN'S BURDEN.
REFRAIN BY NATIVES OF SOUTH AFRICA AND KIKUYU.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Kindly Hostess_ (_to nervous reciter who has broken
down in "The Charge of the Light Brigade"_). "NEVER MIND MR. TOMPKINS,
JUST TELL US IT IN YOUR OWN WORDS."]
* * * * *
to have known--well, well, we shall be wiser another time. Now let's
Poor old Chum; I _had_ known. From a large coat pocket I produced a
"_Dash_ it," said Chum, looking up at me pathetically, "you might
almost _want_ to get rid of me."
He was chained, and the label tied on to him. Forgive me that label,
Chum; I think that was the worst offence of all. And why should I
label one who was speaking so eloquently for himself; who said from
the tip of his little black nose to the end of his stumpy black tail,
"I'm a silly old ass, but there's nothing wrong in me, and they're
sending me away!" But according to the regulations--one must obey the
I gave him to the guard--a delightful man. The guard and I chained him
to a brake or something. Then the guard went away, and Chum and I had
a little talk ...
After that the train went off.
Good-bye, little dog. A.A.M.
* * * * *
"Lady Strachie wishes to thoroughly recommend her permanent
Caretaker and Husband."--_Advt. in "Morning Post."_
Lord STRACHIE should be a proud man to-day.
* * * * *
HOW GREAT MEN SHOW EMOTION.
[Mr. HANDEL BOOTH, speaking in Hyde Park recently, declared
that, when he informed Lord ABERDEEN of the conduct of the
police during the Dublin riots, the Lord Lieutenant "buried
his head in his hands."]
Mr. Leo Maxixe, writing in _The Irrational Review_, states that he
has it on the best authority that when the GERMAN EMPEROR read the
Criccieth New Year's interview with Mr. LLOYD GEORGE he exclaimed,
"This beats the Tango," and fell heavily on the hearthrug.
Mr. James Larvin, addressing a meeting of the Confederates at the
Saveloy Hotel, informed his hearers that when Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL
read the article in _The Daily Mail_ on his future he stood on his
head in the corner for three minutes, to the great embarrassment of
Sir FRANCIS HOPWOOD, who was present.
Sir WILLIAM ROBERTSON NICOLL, writing in _The British Weekly_, asserts
that when Mr. MASSINGHAM read "C.K.S.'s" recent reference to _The
Nation_ in _The Sphere_ he kicked the waste-paper basket round the
room and tore the hair out of his head in handfuls.
Mr. CECIL CHESTERTON, addressing a meeting of non-party fishmongers at
Billingsgate last week, stated that he had heard that when Mr. GODFREY
ISAACS informed the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE that Mr. HANDEL BOOTH had
retired from the Dublin Police Inquiry Lord READING OF EARLEY burst
into tears and hid his face in his wig.
* * * * *
WHY MR. CHESTERTON SHUNS THE ISLE OF WIGHT.
Extract from local time-table:--
"10.45 a.m. Motor Service between Freshwater and Newport
for light passengers only."
* * * * *
"Referring to the plea of Dr. Budge, the poet laureate,
for purer English, a writer in the 'Daily Chronicle'
says...."--_Glasgow Evening Citizen_.
Purer spelling of names is what the POET LAUREATE would really like to
* * * * *
It was very touching of _The Evening News_ to give so much space to
the distressing story of the real Duchess who could not get a seat at
Olympia--(surely they might have thrown out a common person to make
room for her?)--but it was tactless to go on:
"'If you will bring me a couple of chairs,' said the duchess,
'I will sit down in the gangway with the greatest pleasure.'"
It makes one wonder which of our larger duchesses it was.
* * * * *
THE HOUSE OF PUNCH.
[He "married a princess of the House of Punch."--_Excerpt
front an account of the life of a former King of Kashmir_.]
Hail, Master, and accept the news I bring.
I come to make a solemn mystery clear,
One that affects you deeply; for I sing
Of a most ancient king
Nine hundred years ago in fair Kashmir,
Who yearned towards a bride, and--hear, oh hear,
Lord of the reboant nose and classic hunch--
"Married a princess of the House of Punch."
Yes, you are royal, as one might have seen.
The loftiness of your despotic sway,
Your strange aloofness and unearthly mien
(Yet regal) might have been
A full assurance of monarchic clay.
Had but the fates run kindly, at this day
Yourself should be a king of orient fame,
Chief of the princely house that bears your name.
Methinks I see you at it. I can see
A shamiana loftily upreared
Beneath a banyan (or banana) tree,
Whichever it may be,
Where, with bright turban and vermilion beard
(A not unfrequent sight, and very weird),
You sit at peace; a small boy, doubly bowed,
Acts as your footstool and, though stiff, is proud.
Fragrant with Champak scents the warm wind sighs
Heavily, faintly, languorously fanned
By drowsy peacock-plumes--to keep the flies
From your full nose and eyes--
Waved from behind you, where on either hand
Two silent slaves of Nubian polish stand,
Whose patent-leather visages reflect
The convex day, with mirror-like effect.
Robed in a garment of the choicest spoil
Of Persian looms, you sit apart to deal
Grace to the suppliant and reward for toil,
T'abase the proud, and boil
The malefactor, till upon you steal
Mild qualms suggestive of the mid-day meal;
And, then, what plump, what luscious fruits are those?
What goblets of what vintage? Goodness knows.
Gladly would I pursue this glowing dream,
To sing of deeds of chivalry and sport,
Of cushioned dalliance in the soft hareem
(A really splendid theme),
The pundits and tame poets at your court,
And all such pride, but I must keep it short.
Once let me off upon a thing so bright,
And I should hardly stop without a fight.
But now you stand plain Mister; and, no doubt,
Would have for choice this visioned pomp untold.
Yet, Sire, I beg you, cast such musings out;
Put not yourself about
For a vain dream. If I may make so bold,
Your present lot should keep you well consoled.
You still are great, and have, when all is done,
A fine old Eastern smack, majestic One.
The vassals of your fathers were but few
Compared with yours, who move the whole world wide;
You still can splash an oriental hue,
Red, yellow, green or blue,
Upon a fresh and various outside;
While you support--perhaps your greatest pride
High pundits for your intellectual feast,
And some tame bards, of whom I am the least.
[Footnote 1: Tent]
* * * * *
A correspondent of _The Times_ writes:--"The _Niva_, the _Russian
Family Herald_, promises to annual subscribers, in addition to a copy
of the paper every week--
The complete works of Korolenko in twenty-five volumes.
The complete works of Edmond Rostand.
The complete works of Maikof.
A literary supplement every month.
A fashion book.
A book of patterns of fancy-work designs.
A tear-off calendar for 1914,"
and adds, "Where does English or American journalistic enterprise
stand beside this?"
We understand that our more enterprising contemporaries have no
intention of allowing this question to remain unanswered, and the
wildest rumours are afloat as to the nature of the gifts which will be
offered next year to annual subscribers by various British journals.
With a view to test the accuracy of these rumours our Special
Representative called yesterday upon the Editors of several leading
publications, and, although much secrecy is still maintained, he has
succeeded in collecting some valuable information. For instance, the
report that _The Nineteenth Century and After_ would include among
its gifts the dramatic works of the MELVILLE BROS., _HOW to Dance the
Tango_, and _Sweeter than Honey_, a novel with a strong love interest,
lacks confirmation; nor are we in a position to assert definitely that
_The Spectator_ will present a beautiful coloured supplement, entitled
"Susie's Pet Pup," and a handsome mug bearing the inscription: "A
Present from Loo," though we believe that such may be the case.
On the other hand, _The Times'_ reply to an inquiry as to whether
they would present to each reader half a ton of supplements was that
they had done so for some years past; and _The Daily Mirror_ did not
deny that they were considering the proposal to present a framed
copy of the portrait of John Tiffinch which appeared in their issue
of February 29, 1913. (Tiffinch, our readers will remember, was
brother-in-law to the man who discovered the great emerald robbery.)
_The British Medical Journal's_ list will include the works of GEORGE
BERNARD SHAW and the Life of Mrs. EDDY; but the report that _The
Tailor and Cutter_ would present _Wild Tribes of Central Africa_ is
Finally, _The Boxing World_ had not thought of offering any
free-gifts, but on learning that BOSWELL had written a Life of JOHNSON
seemed inclined to reconsider their decision.
* * * * *
"In order to counteract a tendency to stoutness which
ex-President Taft is now overcoming, the Kaiser has lately
undergone a systematic course of outdoor 'training.'"--_Daily
This is very friendly of the KAISER, but Mr. TAFT will probably do it
better by himself.
Says an Edinburgh tram-car advertisement:--
THE SCOTTISH ORCHESTRA.
Solo Violinist.....Duci Kerekjarto."
You should see these natives when they get among the haggis. Hoots!
* * * * *
OR, THE HEATHEN IN HIS BLINDNESS.
THE country of Kakekikoku, as its name suggests, lies in the vicinity
of Timbuctoo, the well-known African resort; and at the present time,
when so much interest is centred upon that little-known land, it may
be profitable to our readers, as well as to the writer, to give some
information about it.
A famous Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, who has travelled
widely, not only in this country but in Belgium and the Channel
Islands, has stated that Kakekikoku is richly endowed with the
bewilderments, perils and mysteries of primitive and unexplored
African territory. A warlike and exclusive folk, the Kakekikokuans
extend a red-hot welcome to the foreigner who ventures within their
borders. They are possessed of a fine physique and an intelligence
of a subtler kind than many savage races can pretend to; yet while
having all the qualities that should go to the building up of a
strong nation, certain conditions of their life bar the way to such an
achievement. In a word, the Kakekikokuans are in the clutches of the
medicine-man. Each of these despots has his own little following, and
wields a distinctive influence, it being a point of honour with him
that his teaching should differ in some way (usually in but a trivial
detail) from the teaching of any other of his kind. The solemnity of
their discussions and the heat of their dissensions about the minutiae
of their creeds would be laughable were it not so pathetic..
And not only do the medicine-men dispute among themselves, but their
followers engage even more vehemently in bitter strife. For instance,
there is a national belief that the juby-juby nut, which grows in the
forests in profusion, possesses some supernatural virtue that will
make a man who chews it impervious to the weapons of his enemies.
That this virtue exists is generally accepted; but when it comes to
a discussion of how, when and where to chew the nut, much wrangling
goes on; and such men as survive in battle claim that their particular
method is proved to be the correct one, while such as succumb are
cited in proof of the error of their process of absorbing the
juices of the juby-juby nut. The survivors include, of course,
representatives of various schools of thought, and a battle against
a common enemy rarely goes by without being immediately followed by
a conflict among the surviving Kakekikokuans in order to put to final
proof their respective theories about their remarkable fruit. Thus a
promising people is committing race-suicide; for this sort of thing
goes on not only in connection with this particular problem, but over
such questions as the number of beads to wear round one's neck when
visiting the medicine-man, whether the national custom of saluting
the rising sun need be observed on cloudy mornings, and whether
the medicine-man is entitled to the pick of the yams on any day but
Sunday. People of different opinions on these points decline to eat
together or to enter into social intercourse with one another; and
their children are forbidden to mingle in play.
The good news has just come to hand, however, that a band of Church
of England missionaries, despatched by the Bishop of ZANZIBAR, has
now entered the country; and it is delightful to contemplate the
beneficent result that may be expected from their broadminded attitude
and their sane teaching on the subject of the brotherhood of man.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Observant Lady_ (_to gentleman alighting from 'bus_).
"_I_ THINK YOU'VE DROPPED A PENNY!"]
* * * * *
"The Berlin critics have been accusing Mr. Bernard Shaw of
having committed in his 'Pygmalion,' produced in Germany the
other day, a plagiarism from Smollett's novel, 'Peregrine
Pickle.' Mr. Shaw denies that he has ever read the novel
in question, and, in an interview in the London 'Observer,'
remarks: 'The suggestion of the German papers that I had
Pygmalion produced in Germany lest I should be detected in
my own country of plagiarism, shows an amusing ignorance of
English culture.'"--_Yorkshire Evening Post_.
It does. Why even our most cultured countryman, Mr. BERNARD SHAW, has
never read _Peregrine Pickle_.
* * * * *
"Mr. Spademan, of Woodnewton, Northants, placed a dozen eggs
under a hen some time ago, and there were hatched out thirteen
chickens, one of the eggs being double-yolked. All the young
birds are doing well.
Burroughes and Watts' billiard tables for
accuracy."--_Birmingham Daily Mail_.
They are, in fact, a lesson to Mr. STADEMAN's hens.
* * * * *
"As a matter of fact," said the doctor, "you ought not to speak at
all. But that's asking too much. So let it go at this--not a word more
than is necessary. Good-bye.",
He left the room and I lay back pondering on his instructions. How
many words were really necessary?
The nurse soon after entered.
"So the doctor's gone," she said.
Obviously it wasn't necessary to say Yes, since the room was empty
save for me and her; so I made no reply.
She went to the window and looked out. The sky was blue and the
sunshine was brilliant.
"It's a fine day," she said.
No, I thought, you don't catch me there; and said nothing. But I
reflected that yesterday I might myself have made the same inane
remark as she.
"Would you like the paper?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, and then almost regretted it, for having waited nearly
fifty years for yesterday's news surely I could wait longer. Still,
the paper would help to pass the time.
While she was fetching it I remembered a dream of last night which I
had intended to tell her this morning.
But why do so? A dream is of no account even to the dreamer. Still,
the recital might have made her laugh. But why should laughter be
The nurse brought the paper and I signified Thank you.
"I'll leave you for a while now," she said; "The fire's all right.
Your drink's by the bed. You'll ring if you want anything."
All these things I knew. My drink is always beside the bed; the bell
is the natural communication between me and the house. What a foolish
chatterbox the woman was! I nodded and she went out.
On her return an hour or so later she asked, "Is there anything in the
Before answering I examined this question. What did it mean? It did
not mean, Are the pages this morning absolutely blank, for a change?
It meant, Is there a good murder? Is any very important person dead?
In reply I handed the paper to her.
Instead of reading it she began a long account of her morning's
walk. She told me where she had been; whom she had seen; whom she
had thought she had seen and then found that it was some one else;
what somebody had said. Not a syllable mattered, I now realised;
but yesterday I should have joined in the talk, asked questions,
encouraged her in her foolishness.
Just before lunch my brother and a guest came into the room and began
to talk about golf. My brother said that he had been round in 98. This
was his best since September, when he went round in 97. He described
his difficulties at the tenth hole.
It all seemed very idiotic to me, for the game was over and done with.
Why rake it up?
The guest said that he had lost two balls, one of which was expensive.
His driving had been good, but in the short game he had been weak.
He could never quite make up his mind whether he putted best with a
gun-metal putter or a wooden one.
My brother asked me if I remembered that long drive of his two years
The nurse came in and told them to go. She then asked me if I was
"Very," I said.
She brought me some beef-tea and calf's-foot-jelly, remarking that
they were easily taken and "would not hurt my throat."
That was why they were chosen, of course.
In the afternoon I had a visit from my Aunt Lavinia, who sat down with
the remark that she would tell me all the news.
"You remember Esther?" she began.
Esther is my cousin and we were brought up together. How could I have
What she told me about Esther was of no consequence. Then she told me
how she had nearly lost her luggage at Brighton--she quite thought she
had lost it, in fact--but, as it happened, it turned up. "And if I had
lost it," she said, "it would have been dreadful, for I had a number
of dear Stella's beautiful sketches in one of my trunks. Quite
irreplaceable. However, it is all right."
Then why tell me?
And so she rattled on.
"You don't say anything," she said at last.
It was true. I had said nothing. I told her what the doctor
"Quite right," she remarked. "I wish other people even in good health
could have the same prescription."
Just before dinner my brother came in again. "You've had Aunt Lavinia
here," he said.
"Getting quite grey, I thought," he said.
I had noticed it too.
He was smoking, and while he was with me he emptied his pipe and
filled it again. He thought he had knocked the burning ash in the
grate, but it had fallen in the turn-up of his right trouser-leg.
Should I tell him? I wondered. He would, of course, find it out from
the smell, but meanwhile the cloth would be burned through.
"Your trouser's burning," I said.
That was the only remark I volunteered all that day; and really,
except now and then on business, I don't see why one should ever
* * * * *
(_THE GAME AND HOW TO PLAY IT, BY A WINTER SPORT._)
Take a piece of ice (you'll want Switzerland for this). Draw two
circles, one at each end. Draw a line a short distance from each
circle. The drawing can be done with a pin, pocket-knife, diamond,
axe, friend's razor or other edged or pointed instrument. I give no
dimensions because they are dull things and I hate guessing. Talk of
the circles at each end as "houses" and the lines as "hogs," and you
are well on the road to become a curler.
Take two narrow pieces of tin with prickly eruptions on one side.
Place one each end of the ice-patch, prickly side down, and stamp on
the smooth side. Why these pieces of tin are called "crampits" I can't
tell you, unless it's just part of the fun.
You now have a prepared patch that can be used for hop-scotch,
shove-halfpenny, Rugby football or curling. If you have named the
things as directed you really ought to use it for curling.
We now come to the question of players. This is one of the most
important parts of the game. Four a side is the almost ideal number,
but a few more or less do not make any very great difference. But be
sure to get some Scotchmen. They take the game seriously and do much
to make the whole affair bright and mirthful. A slight sprinkling of
Irishmen often serves to bring out more prominently the flavour of the
Don't play for money unless you have the majority of Scotchmen on your
The game is played with "stones," or, to use their Scotch pseudonym,
"stanes." To every man two stanes. You can either get your "stanes"
in England and travel out with them, or hire them in the locality.
They make the most pleasant travelling companions and at times are
the cause of many amusing incidents which beguile the tedium of the
journey. Also they often lead to your picking up chance acquaintances.
I have known one stone placed in a dimly lighted corridor of a
train productive of much merriment and harmless banter. Being of
considerable weight they do not readily respond to a playful kick, but
having no sharp corners they are seldom responsible for serious injury
to the kicker.
Every stone, when new, has a handle. Be careful to preserve the handle
intact on the upper part of the stone. If this adjunct be lost or
mislaid the stone is less amenable to transit and almost useless for
its original purpose.
You will also require a long-handled carpet-broom, which you will on
arrival re-name a "cow." Most dressing-bags constructed for foreign
travel are now fitted with these useful and picturesque articles.
The "cow" is used for two purposes. If you are lucky enough to be
appointed scorer for your side you mark the score on the handle in
such a way as to be indecipherable by everyone but yourself. This
prevents disputes with regard to the accuracy of your arithmetic.
You also use it to sweep the ice in front of a friendly stone which
appears likely to give up prematurely from exhaustion. Sweeping is
carried out under the direction of your captain, and the process is
known in the vernacular as "sooping 'er oop." You are not allowed
to retard the progress of a stone, friendly or otherwise, by
intentionally sweeping obstructions into its path. To discard a
portion of your "cow" in front of a rapidly advancing stone is
Over-enthusiasm in "sooping 'er 'oop" should be avoided. Ice is
proverbially slippery, and if you fall on to a friendly stone from
excess of energy or from debility, your side is "huffed" that stone.
This is a serious matter, and even if you are able to continue the
game you are looked on with disfavour by your friends.
The object of the game is to get your stone as near as possible to the
centre of the circle at the other end of the rink. With this object
you stand on the piece of tin or "crampit" before referred to, grasp
the stone firmly by the handle and hurl it along the ice. It is almost
essential to let go the stone at the right moment, otherwise it will
hurl you. The game is almost identical with the commoner game of
"bowls," except for the language, which is worse. The term "wood"
is inappropriate and must be avoided, as the use of it may lay you
under a charge of ignorance or flippancy, which you will find almost
impossible to live down.
I will conclude with a few hints to novices. Preserve a cool head
and steady eye. Whilst you are playing your shot your captain will be
dancing about in the circle at the other end of the ice. You will find
it best to disregard his maniacal shoutings and gesticulations. You
will probably not understand half of them and will not agree with the
other half. If he should break a blood-vessel do not take any notice
unless some part of his fallen body is likely to obstruct your stone.
In this case you are entitled to have him moved.
If, after you have played, cries of "hog" or "wobbler" arise, remember
that you are engaged in a sport and not in politics and that there
is nothing really offensive in the terms. Finally, never scoff at the
language used, and above all remember that what is one man's game may
be another's religion.
* * * * *
[Illustration: LIFE'S LITTLE TRAGEDIES.
SHY AND NERVOUS HUSBAND, ABANDONED IN COSTUME DEPARTMENT BY HIS
WIFE WHO HAS GONE TO THE FITTING-ROOM TO HAVE HER DRESS FITTED, AND
SURROUNDED BY TALL AND BEAUTEOUS YOUNG LADIES WHOSE ONLY BUSINESS
SEEMS TO BE TO MAKE HIM FEEL LIKE A WORM.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: "EH, BUT I HAD A RARE TIME LAST YEAR-R. A WAS AT MA
COUSIN MACWHUSKIE'S A WHOLE FORTNIGHT, AN' A DIDNA ONCE KEN A WAS
* * * * *
(_OR, A HINT TO A HOUSE-AGENT AFTER COMING AWAY FROM HIS OFFICE._)
Your voice was pleasing and your face was fat;
With soap _ad libitum_ you sought to dabble us;
But when I told you we must leave the flat
Did I not notice; underneath the spat,
The bifurcated boot that marks _Diabolus_?
I know that in a brief while you'll have found
The house I wanted (_sic_), superbly roomy,
With a fine view and every comfort crowned,
A short three minutes from the Underground;
Also I know that you are safe to "do" me.
There will be something wrong; but you shall fill
My ears with praises specious and irrelevant
Of this and that; and you shall have your will,
And heave a deep sigh when I've paid my bill,
Having got off at last some rare white elephant.
And when things happen to "The Yews" or "Planes"
Left by the Joneses like a haunt of lazars;
When the roof falls, or in the winter rains
The dining-room breaks out in sudden blains,
And every feast we have recalls BELSHAZZAR's;
You shall be smiling. But you have not guessed
One thing, for all your wisdom, child of Lucifer:
You did not know I was a bard, whose breast
Could boil with bitter language when oppressed
Like a bargee's; if anything, abusiver.
This is the high reward of sacred song;
The minstrels' voices are like falling honey
When the gods please them, but when things go wrong
They speak their mind out straight, and speak it strong,
Especially on points concerned with money.
So, if you "do me down," I have my lyre,
And I shall trumpet (at the normal Press wage)
Such things about that house, and with such fire,
That all men ever after shall conspire
To shun the said demesne and curse that messuage.
And spiders on the broken panes shall sit,
And the grey rats shall scuttle in the basement,
Until the Borough Council purchase it
And cleanse and decorate, and lastly fit
A fair blue _plaque_ above the study casement,
Saying, "Here lived a while and wove his spell,
Eusebius Binks the bard, the unforgotten;
The house is mentioned in his 'Lines to Hell,'
Also the agents, Messrs. Azazel,
And the then drains which, so he sang, were rotten."
* * * * *
_The Daily Telegraph_ says of the Portsmouth Corporation telephone
"At present there are 1,899 subscribers and 2,528 distinct
Why doesn't the Post Office experiment with this new sort of
* * * * *
"Yet it is necessary to state emphatically, although no representative
of a daily newspaper seems to have been under this impression, that not
for twenty years have I been so bored."
_C.K.S. in "The Sphere," on the 'Edwin Drood' trial_.
But how are the poor reporters to know so much about C.K.S. as that?
* * * * *
[Illustration: COULEUR D'ORANGE.
MR. ASQUITH (_on the Riviera_). "LUCKY FOR ME THERE AREN'T ANY
'CONVERSATIONS' HERE--I MIGHT AGREE TO ALMOST ANYTHING."]
* * * * *
THE POST OFFICE AGAIN.
DEAR UNCLE,--Its your birthday to-day. I sent you some nice pairs of
hankerchifs because its your birthday. They for your nose. Its funny
our birthdays being so close. And now no more from your loving neice
MY DEAR NANCY,--Thank you very much indeed for the nice
pocket-handkerchiefs. I am very pleased with them. Nobody has ever
troubled to give me handkerchiefs before with pretty flowers worked in
the corners. I have been wearing them to-day, or rather one of them.
They are so nice that I really meant to have kept them specially for
parties and things like that, but, as I was obliged to leave home in
a great hurry this morning, and someone had hidden my everyday
handkerchiefs, I took one of yours.
Such a funny thing has happened. I sent you for your birthday a pretty
card with birds on it, and somehow or other it got taken in quite a
different direction, and was returned to me this morning by--whom do
you think? Auntie Maud, all the way away in Ireland. But we mustn't
blame the Postmaster-General without being absolutely sure of
ourselves. It is very difficult in mysterious cases like this to be
absolutely sure. Didn't you get my parcel? I sent it off at the same
time as I sent the card, and I haven't had the parcel back. I wonder
where it is. It looks as though things were going on that you and I
know nothing about. I shall be very angry with him if he has forgotten
to give you your parcel.
Hoping you are quite well, thank you, Your loving
DEAR UNCLE,--Thank you for your pretty card for my birthday. I didn't
got your parsel. Its very naughty of him when its my birthday. I hop
youll be very very angry with him because its my birthday and I didnt
get your parsel. And now no more from your loving neice
SIR,--On Tuesday last I despatched by book-post a parcel from the
South-Western District Office. It is now Friday, and the parcel
has not been delivered. I should esteem it a favour if you would
kindly give the Official Handicapper for the District in question
instructions to allow my parcel to start forthwith. Yours faithfully,
SIR,--In reply to your enquiry as to the nature of the parcel, I beg
to inform you that it was oblong in shape and done up in brown paper
and tied securely with string. To assist you still further in the
task of identification, I may mention that it is addressed to Miss
Nancy Freshfield, c/o F.E.L. Freshfield, Esq., 47, Ottalie Gardens,
Trusting that nothing serious has occurred to disqualify my parcel,
Yours faithfully, HY. FRESHFIELD.
DEAR UNCLE,--I thought it was such a long time my parsel didnt come I
would write to you dear Uncle. I hop you were very angry with him. And
now no more
from your loving neice NANCY.
DEAR SIR,--I am directed by the Postmaster-General to inform you that
your parcel has now been traced.
The name of the addressee was correctly stated by you, but you omitted
to append such further instructions for the guidance of the Post
Office as to indicate the destination to which you desired it to go.
I have the pleasure to add that the fuller information has been copied
in from your letter, and the parcel despatched....
DEAR NANCY,--By the same post that brought me your letter I heard from
our absent-minded friend, the Postmaster-General. You will be pained
to learn that he is even more absent-minded than we thought he was.
Although, when I handed him your parcel, I distinctly told him it
was going to Westminster, the moment my back is turned he must needs
forget all about it.
I feel really rather sorry for him, and I don't think we ought to be
angry any more. He can't possibly forget now, because I have written
the address down for him. Your loving
* * * * *
[Illustration: WHAT TO DO WITH OUR FAT MEN; OR, EVERY LITTLE HELPS.]
* * * * *
A CABINET CRISIS.
It had to be faced at last. There is a demand for them occasionally,
and people won't put up with that excellent one taken under the
crab-apple tree any longer.
I was caught just right there. The sun was in an indulgent mood and
winked at the signs of advancing age. The bald patch was out of sight,
and the smile would have softened the heart of an income-tax assessor.
I acquired the negative from the amateur performer, and had it
vignetted, which made it better still, as there was a space between
the cashmere sock and the spring trousering in the original that I did
not want attention drawn to. I had a large number of prints made, and
dealt them out to anybody who asked for a photograph of me. At first
they aroused considerable enthusiasm, but after five or six years a
look of doubt began to appear on the faces of the recipients. Hadn't I
got a later one? This was very nice, but--I pointed out that I hadn't
changed at all, or only a very little. At my best I was still like
that; and didn't they want me at my best?
At last a person described by himself as plain-spoken, and by other
people as offensively rude, said that I had never really been as
good-looking as that, with all possible allowances made, and any way
he wanted a photograph and not a memorial card. I took a firm stand,
and said that if he wasn't satisfied with that one he could go without
altogether, and he said in the most insulting way that he supposed he
should be himself again in time if he took a tonic.
A few more episodes of that sort eventually drove me to it. I passed
my _viva-voce_ examination at the hands of the young lady at the desk,
paid my fees, got my testamur, and was shown into the torture-chamber,
where the head executioner was busy adjusting his racks and screws.
I was rather taken with the rustic seat that was standing on a white
fur mat in front of a scene representing the Jungfrau, but he headed
me off it. If I liked the Jungfrau as a background I could have
it, but not with the seat; that was for engaged couples only. He
recommended a pair of skis, or a bobsleigh; he could put a fine fall
of snow into the negative. But as I had arrayed myself in a black
coat, with one of those white waistcoat slips, and a flowing tie with
a pearl pin, I refused this offer, and we decided we wouldn't have a
background at all.
As the man who administered the laughing gas was out at lunch, I
prepared to go through with it in cold blood, and seated myself in the
operating chair in the most natural attitude I could assume--something
like the one I had taken under the crab-tree. I thought I would show
them that there wasn't so much difference after all. But it did not
suit the head mechanic at all. He looked at me with his head on one
side, and then took hold of mine by the chin and the hair and gave it
a twist. I had never worn it at that angle in my life, and I knew it
would put my collar all wrong; but I had to do what he told me. He
arranged my coat so that it should look as if it had been made to
fit somebody else, and disposed my arms in such a way as to give the
sleeves the appearance of trouser legs with rucks in them. I felt
almost more sorry for my tailor than for myself, but I shall send him
one of the prints when I get them; it will be good for him.
We were now ready to tackle the expression. I had chosen one that
would have been suitable for a man with a fair No Trump hand, but
with one suit not fully guarded, as I didn't want to overdo it; but,
judging from the inquisitor's remarks about the graveside, I am quite
ready to admit that it might not have come out like that. I hastily
dealt myself a hundred aces and a long suit of clubs, and he said
that that was better, but I must put off the idea of the funeral
altogether. It was not until I had assumed the appearance of a
reach-me-down Nut with a dislocated neck, being made love to by
six chorus-girls at once, that he condescended to take a look at
me through the peephole. Then he ran up to me, gave my chin another
hitch, pulled my neck another foot or two out of my collar, added a
ruck or two to my sleeves, and said he liked the other side of my face
better, after all.
So we went through it all again, and I worked at it with a will, for I
wanted to see him get under his black cloth and finish the business.
It wasn't as bad as I had thought, but he was not done by any means
when he had fired his first shot. He rammed more cartridges into the
breach, and twisted me into three fresh contortions. He said he was
sure that some of the efforts would turn out magnificently.
I don't feel quite the same confidence myself. I am anxiously
awaiting the result, and trying to get rid of the crick in my neck
and to unbuckle the smile in the meantime. If it doesn't turn out
satisfactorily, I shall get a few lines--not too deep--put into the
negative of the one taken under the crab-tree, and a little hair
painted out--but not too much.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "WORK! I'M NOT AFRAID O' WORK, BUT I CAN'T GET ANY IN
"WHAT IS YOUR LINE?"
"I USED TO BE A STOCKBROKER, LIDY."]
* * * * *
"Lemnos and Samothrace are to pass to Greece, and Chios and
Wtlylene are to be neutralised."--_Daily Citizen_.
We shall remain anxious until the last-named is sterilized.
* * * * *
THE TRAGEDY OF MIDDLE AGE.
When I was a mid-Victorian nut
With a delicate taste in ties,
A highly elegant figure I cut,
At least in my own fond eyes,
And used to regard unwaxed moustaches
As one of the worst of social laches.
But now I find in my youngest son
The sternest of autocrats.
He tells me the things that must be done
And orders my collars and spats;
Prescribes mild exercise on the links
And advises me on the choice of drinks.
I've faithfully striven to imitate
My Mentor in dress and diction,
And loyally laboured to cultivate
A taste for the latest fiction;
Though I still read DICKENS upon the sly,
And even SCOTT, when nobody's by.
It's true I've managed to draw the line
At going to tango teas,
For, after all, I am fifty-nine
And a trifle stiff in the knees;
But I've had to give up billiards for "slosh,"
And pay laborious homage to "squash."
Long since my whiskers I had to shave
To please this young barbarian,
But still for a while I stealthily clave
To the use of Pommade Hungarian;
But now my tyrant has made me snip
The glory and pride of my upper lip.
"My dear old man," he recently said,
"If you go on waxing the ends,
You're bound to be cut, direct and dead,
By all of my nuttiest friends.
For it's only done, so _The Mail_ discovers,
By Labour leaders and taxi-shovers."
So the deed was done, but whenever I gaze
On my face in the glass I moan
As I think of the mid-Victorian days
When my upper lip was my own.
For now, of length and of breadth bereft,
The ghost of a tooth-brush is all that's left.
* * * * *
"MISSING NAVY PAYMASTER ARRESTED."
_"Evening Standard" Poster._
So that's where it was all the time!
* * * * *
"The Under-sheriff said ... rumours against a man's
character were like a rolling stone, gathering moss as it
"As fond of the fire as a burnt child," is another of the Under
Sheriff's favourite sayings.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Indulgent Householder_. "WHY ARE YOU SINGING CAROLS,
MY LITTLE MAN? DON'T YOU KNOW CHRISTMAS IS OVER?"
_Youthful Caroller_. "YES, SIR; BUT I 'AD MEASLES ALL FROO
* * * * *
ONCE UPON A TIME.
Once upon a time there was a peer who knew the frailty of unennobled
Having occasion to entertain at dinner a number of useful follows, he
instructed his butler to transfer the labels from a number of empty
bottles of champagne to an equal number of magnums of dry ginger-ale,
at ten shillings the dozen, and these were placed on the table.
At the beginning of the repast his lordship casually drew attention
to the wine which he was giving his guests, and asked for their candid
opinion of it, as he was aware that they were all good judges, who
knew a good thing when they saw it, and he would value their opinion.
And they one and all said it was an excellent champagne, and two or
three made a note of it in their pocket-books. And such was their
loyal enthusiasm that the banquet ended in a fine glow of something
exactly like hilarity.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"I'm not going to give up my daily bath!" In these pregnant and moving
words rang the _cri de coeur_ which was to precipitate the tragedy of
_Mary Sheppard_. To you the attitude of mind which provoked this cry
may seem as natural as it was sanitary. But you must understand that
it ran directly counter to _Ezra Sheppard's_ ideal of the simple
God-fearing life. Godliness with him came first, and cleanliness
followed where it could. In his view a tub once a week was all that
any sane person should need. Apart from this hebdomadal use its proper
function was to hold dirty dishes and soiled clothes for the washing.
And indeed this had at one time been _Mary's_ own view (though
tempered by vague aspirations towards a softer existence, as we might
have guessed from the elegance of her brown shoes) before a year of
the higher life had shaken her content. Let us go back.
[Illustration: Mr. MCKINNEL (_Ezra Sheppard_) to Miss MAY BLAYNEY
(_Mary Sheppard_). "You've been lying again! You know how I hate it--I
told you so in this very theatre when we were playing in _Between
Sunset and Dawn_."]
_Ezra Sheppard_ was by profession a market-gardener, and his favourite
recreation was preaching in a barn. We have the picture of a frugal
but happy interior, with a new-born infant (_off_). The trouble began
with an offer made to his wife of a situation as foster-mother to
the baby (also _off_) of a neighbouring Countess. The wages were to
be high and she was to be delicately entreated; but there were hard
conditions. She was not to hold communication with her husband or
child for twelve months. I am sorry to say that _Mary_ did not flinch
from these conditions quite so much as I could have hoped. _Ezra_,
however, rejected them for her with manly scorn, until he was reminded
that the high wages would speed the end of his own ambitions--namely,
to replace his barn with a conventicle of brick. So he let his wife
loose into Eden with the Serpent.
And now we see _Mary_ seated in the lap of luxury, with soft gowns to
wear, and peaches to eat and instant slaves at her beck. You will, of
course, expect her virtue to fall an easy prey; but you will be wrong.
The Earl's attitude is pleasantly parental, and the attentions of
the Countess's cavalier--an author--are confined to the extraction
of copy. And anyhow _Mary's_ instincts are sound. Now and again she
remembers to pity the loneliness of her husband, whose cottage light
she can see from the window of her bower; and once, by a ruse, she
gets him to break the conditions and visit her; but when he learns
that the invitation came from her, and not, as alleged, from the
Countess, his conscience will not permit him to take advantage of his
chance. So you have the unusual spectacle of a true and loving wife
pleading in vain for the embraces of her true and loving husband.
But if her virtue, in the technical sense, remained intact, the
Serpent had overfed her with _pommes de luxe_. On her return
home--where the restoration of her child might have helped matters,
but it doesn't know who she is and refuses to part from its
foster-mother--we find her lethargic, off her feed, indifferent to the
claims of menial toil, and clamorous (as I have shown) for her rights
of the daily bath.
In the first joy of conjugal reunion _Ezra_ consents to tolerate the
discomfort of this change, but in the end he loses patience and hits
her. She leaves for London the same afternoon.
Six black months pass over the husband's bowed head, and then, on a
very windy night (the wind was well done), she makes a re-entry, and
confesses that, under stress of need, she has lapsed from virtue. This
is bad news for _Ezra_, but he is prepared to forgive a fault in which
he himself has had a fair share. Only there must be a sacrifice of
something, if moral justice is to be appeased. So he chooses between
his wife and his chapel and does execution on the latter. He goes
out into the storm and sets the thing alight. His conscience is thus
purified by fire, the gale being favourable to arson.
It is a pity that so excellent an object as a brick chapel should be
the evil genius of the play. Yet so it is. Built of the materials of
Scandinavian drama, it is always just round the corner, heavy with
doom. We never see it, but we hear more than enough about it, and in
the end it becomes a bore which we are well rid of.
The theme of the perils of foster-motherhood is not new, but Mrs.
MERRICK has treated it freshly and with a very decent avoidance of its
strictly sexual aspects. But her methods are too sedentary. She kept
on with her atmosphere long after we knew the details of the cottage
interior by heart; while a whole volume of active tragedy--_Mary's_
six months in London--was left to our fevered imagination. And the
sense of reality which she was at such pains to create was spoiled by
dialogue freely carried on in the immediate vicinity of persons who
were not supposed to overhear it.
The chief attraction of _Mary-Girl_ (a silly title) was the engaging
personality of Miss MAY BLAYNEY. Always a fascinating figure to watch,
she showed an extraordinary sensitiveness of voice and expression.
As for that honest and admirable actor, Mr. MCKINNEL, who made the
perfect foil to her charms that every good husband should wish to
be, he seems never to tire of playing these stern, dour, semi-brutal
parts. That more genial characters are open to him his success in
_Great Catherine_ showed. Miss MARY BROUGH, as a charwoman, supplied a
rare need with her richly-flavoured humour and its clipped sentences.
All the rest did themselves justice. Miss HELEN FERRERS was a shade
more aristocratic than the aristocrat of stage tradition; and it
was not the fault of Miss DOROTHY FANE (as her daughter, _Lady
Folkington_) that she was required to behave incredibly in the
presence of her inferiors. I have not much to say for the manners
of Society in its own circles; but it is probably at its best in its
intercourse with humbler neighbours. Mrs. MERRICK's picture of the
_Countess_ on a visit to the _Sheppards'_ cottage might have been
designed for a poster of the Land Campaign.
There was no dissenting note, I am glad to say, in the reception of
Mrs. MERRICK's charming self when she appeared after the fall of the
"A pretty authoress!" said an actress in the stalls.
"Is that your comment on the play?" I asked.
"Yes!" she said.
* * * * *
"Her Majesty was accompanied by Princess Henry and
Where was Lord SAYE AND SELE?
* * * * *
[Illustration: "COME, COME, SIR! THAT'S THE HORSE WE KEEP FOR QUITE
YOUNG CHILDREN! HE WANTS TO _PLAY_ WITH YOU, SIR!"]
* * * * *
THE LAST STRAW.
I sing the sofa! It had stood for years,
An invitation to benign repose,
A foe to all the fretful brood of fears,
Bidding the weary eye-lid sink and close.
Massive and deep and broad it was and bland--
In short the noblest sofa in the land.
You, too, my friend, my solid friend, I sing,
Whom on an afternoon I did behold
Eying--'twas after lunch--the cushioned thing,
And murmuring gently, "Here are realms of gold,
And I shall visit them," you said, "and be
The sofa's burden till it's time for tea."
"Let those who will go forth," you said, "and dare,
Beyond the cluster of the little shops,
To strain their limbs and take the eager air,
Seeking the heights of Hedsor and its copse.
I shall abide and watch the far-off gleams
Of fairy beacons from the world of dreams."
Then forth we fared, and you, no doubt, lay down,
An easy victim to the sofa's charms,
Forgetting hopes of fame and past renown,
Lapped in those padded and alluring arms.
"How well," you said, and veiled your heavy eyes,
"It slopes to suit me! This is Paradise."
So we adventured to the topmost hill,
And, when the sunset shot the sky with red,
Homeward returned and found you taking still
Deep draughts of peace with pillows 'neath your head.
"His sleep," said one, "has been unduly long."
Another said, "Let's bring and beat the gong."
"Gongs," said a third and gazed with looks intent
At the full sofa, "are not adequate.
There fits some dread, some heavy, punishment
For one who sleeps with such a dreadful weight.
Behold with me," he moaned, "a scene accurst.
The springs are broken and the sofa's burst!"
Too true! Too true! Beneath you on the floor
Lay blent in ruin all the obscure things
That were the sofa's strength, a scattered store
Of tacks and battens and protruded springs.
Through the rent ticking they had all been spilt,
Mute proofs and mournful of your weight and guilt.
And you? You slept as sweetly as a child,
And when you woke you recked not of your shame,
But babbled greetings, stretched yourself and smiled
From that eviscerated sofa's frame,
Which, flawless erst, was now one mighty flaw
Through the addition of yourself as straw.
* * * * *
"A really acceptable present for a lady is a nice piece
of artificial hair, as, when not absolutely necessary, it
is always useful and ornamental."--_Advt. in "Aberdeen
Still, it might be misunderstood.
* * * * *
"Theologians and mystics might say, 'Is that not mere
anthropomrhpism?'"--_Mr. BALFOUR according to "The Daily
But a Welshman would say it best.
* * * * *
"An aggressive minority succeeded in showing that the
Little Navy-ites do not represent the bulk of public
It is, of course, always the aggressive minority which really
represents the bulk of public opinion.
* * * * *
When I see the white-haired and venerable Thompson standing behind my
equally white-haired but much less venerable father at dinner, exuding
an atmosphere of worth and uprightness and checking by his mere silent
presence the more flippant tendencies of our conversation; when I hear
him whisper into my youthful son's ear, "Sherry, Sir?" in the voice of
a tolerant teetotaler who would not force his principles upon any man
but hopes sincerely that this one will say No; and when I am informed
that he promised our bootboy a rapid and inevitable descent to a state
of infamy and destitution upon discovering no more than the fag end of
a cigarette behind his ear, then I am tempted to recall an incident of
fifteen years back, lest it be forgotten that Thompson is a man like
ourselves who has known, and even owned, a human weakness.
Dinner had begun on that eventful evening at 7.30 P.M., and it was
drawing within sight of a conclusion, that is, the sweet had been
eaten and the savoury was overdue, at 9.45 P.M. Four of us had trailed
thus far through this critical meal: my father, a usually patient
widower who was becoming more than restless; the Robinsons, never a
jocund brace of guests, who were by now positively sullen, and myself
who, being but a boy--of twenty odd years and having little enough to
say to a woman of fifty-five and her still more antique husband, had
long ago settled down to a determined silence. Meanwhile Thompson,
then in his first year of service with us, tarried mysteriously heaven
The intervals of preparation before each course had been growing
longer and longer and the pause before the savoury threatened to be
infinite. My father commanded me to ring the bell severely. Longing to
escape from the table I did so with emphasis, and my ring summoned (to
our surprise, for we were not aware of her existence in the house) a
slightly soiled kitchen-maid.
"Where is Thompson?" asked my father sternly.
"At the telephone, Sir," stammered the maid.
"The telephone!" cried my father. "Whatever is the matter?"
The maid started to mumble an explanation, burst into tears and fled
in alarm, never again to emerge from the back regions. My father
commanded me to the bell again, but as I rose Thompson entered. He was
even then a stately and dignified person, and it was with a measured
tread and slow that he advanced upon my father.
"Will you please serve the savoury at once?" said my father.
"I am afraid it cannot be done, Sir," said Thompson. "May I explain,
"What is the meaning of this?" asked my father, fearing some terrible
disaster below stairs, and sacrificing politeness to his guests with
the hope of saving lives in the kitchen.
Thompson cleared his throat.--"For some weeks, Sir," he said, "I have
been much worried with financial affairs. Like a fool I have invested
all my savings in speculative shares, and the variations of the market
have unduly depressed me. When I am depressed I take no food, and that
depresses me even more."
You will be as surprised as we were that this was allowed to continue,
but when a man of so few words as Thompson chooses to come out of
his shell he is always master of the situation. "And so, Sir," he
continued, "I have taken the liberty of telephoning to the mews for
He paused and bowed, as if this made it all clear, and was about
to withdraw. "Kindly finish serving dinner at once, and don't be
impudent," my father got out at last.
Thompson sighed. "It is absolutely out of the question, Sir," said he.
"Quite, quite impossible."
"Why on earth?" cried my father.
Thompson became, if possible, more solemn and deliberate than before.
"I am drunk, Sir," said he.
At this point Mrs. Robinson, whose indignation had slowly been
swelling within her, rose and left the room. Robinson, as in duty
bound, followed. Neither of them, to my infinite joy, has ever
"Depressed by want of food, Sir," continued Thompson, by sheer duress
preventing my father from following his guests and attempting to
pacify them, "I have taken to spirits. I do not like the taste of
spirits and they go at once to my head. They depress me further, Sir,
but they intoxicate me. Yes, I am undoubtedly tipsy."
My father seized the opportunity of his pause for reflection to order
him to leave the room and present himself in the morning when he was
"You dismiss us without notice, Sir," he stated, referring to himself
and his wife in the kitchen. "First thing in the morning we go. And so
I have ordered the cab to take us."
This was a very proper fate for Thompson but came a little hard on my
father. "But what am _I_ to do?" asked he.
Thompson regarded him with a desultory smile. "The Mews desires to
know, Sir," said he, "who will pay for the cab?"
I ought to be able to state that there followed with the cold light
of day an apology, with passionate tears and remorse, from Thompson,
or at least a severe reprimand from my father before he consented to
keep him on. I regret to say that my father, next morning, postponed
the interview till the evening, and from the evening till the next
morning, and--that interview is still pending. If this seems weak, you
have only to see Thompson to realize that no man with any sense of the
incongruous could even mention the word "Drink" in his presence.
As for the cab which Thompson had ordered, though we never saw it we
later heard all about it. It went to the wrong house because, as the
proprietor of the mews informed us with shame and regret, the driver
entrusted with the order had been very much under the influence of
alcohol. Altogether it is a sordid tale, made no better by the fact
that the house which the drunken driver chose to go to and insult was
* * * * *
LOVE AT THE CINEMA.
Inert I watched the Hero sacked
For lapses clearly not his own;
The midnight murder on the cliff,
The wonted ante-nuptial tiff,
The orange-blossoms, bored me stiff.
The picture-hall was simply packed,
But I was all alone.
Alone! Two little hours could span
The gloom that bound me stark and grim
(No melancholy pierced me through
Before the 7.32
Had ravished Barbara from view),
And yet I brooked it like a man
Until I noticed HIM.
He sat extravagantly near
His Heart's Delight. To my distress,
When temporary twilight fell,
He squeezed her hand (and squeezed it well!),
Possessed her waist, and in that shell,
That damask shell she calls an ear,
Breathed words of tenderness.
The blood ran riot to my head
And still I held my madness thrall,
My lips repressed the frenzied shriek,
My straining heart was stout as teak;
But, when he kissed her mantling cheek,
I broke--and two attendants led
Me wailing from the hall.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE LOST CHRISTMAS PRESENT.
_Maid_ (_to postman delivering long-delayed parcel_). "WHAT IS IT?"
_Postman_. "LABEL SAYS, 'WILD DUCKS,' BUT THEY'RE 'UMMING-BIRDS NOW".]
* * * * *
(_BY MR. PUNCH'S STAFF OF LEARNED CLERKS._)
There is at least one thing that will surprise you about _It Happened
in Egypt_ (METHUEN), and that is that, although C.N. and A.M.
WILLIAMSON are the writers, motor-cars are hardly so much as mentioned
throughout. It is a tale of the Nile and the Desert, of camels and
caravans, told with a quite extraordinary power of making you feel
that you have visited the scenes described. But this, of course,
if you have any previous experience of the WILLIAMSON method, will
not surprise you at all. As for the story that strings the scenes
together, though it promised well, with almost every possible element
of fictional excitement--buried treasure, and spies, and abductions,
and secrets--somehow the result was not wholly up to the expectation
thus created. To borrow an appropriate simile, the great thrill
remained something of a mirage, always in sight and never actually
reached. Also I wish to record my passionate protest against stories
of treasure-trove in which the treasure is not taken away in sacks and
used to enrich the hunters; I am all against leaving it underground,
for whatever charming and romantic reasons. No, it is not so much as
a novel of adventure that might have happened pretty well anywhere
that I advise you to read this book, but as a super-guide to scenes
and sensations that happen in Egypt and nowhere else. From the moment
when, as one of the WILLIAMSON party, you sit down to breakfast on the
terrace of Shepherd's, till you take leave of your fellow-travellers
in the mountain-tomb of QUEEN CANDACE, you will enjoy the nearest
possible approach to a luxurious Egyptian tour, under delightful
guidance, and at an inclusive fare of six shillings.
* * * * *
Mr. SETON GORDON is a bold man. It is one thing to call a book
_The Charm of the Hills_ (CASSELL) and quite another to succeed in
conveying that charm through the medium of the printed word. Perhaps,
however, he was encouraged by the success that has already attended
these pen-pictures of Highland scenes in serial form; certainly he
knew also that he had another source of strength in a collection of
the most fascinating photographs of mountain scenery and wild life,
nearly a hundred of which are reproduced in the present volume. So
that what Mr. GORDON the writer fails to convey about his favourite
haunts (which is not much) Mr. GORDON the photographer is ready
to supply. The papers, which range in subject from ptarmigan to
cairngorms, are written with an engaging simplicity and directness,
and show a sympathetic knowledge of wild nature such as is the
reward only of long familiarity. The glorious mountain wind
blows through them all, so that as you read you feel the heather
brushing your knees, and see the clouds massing on the peaks of
Ben-something-or-other. Perhaps Mr. GORDON is at his most interesting
on the subject of the Golden Eagle. There are many striking snapshots
of the king of birds in his royal home; and some stories of court
life in an eyrie that are fresh and enthralling. One thing that I was
specially glad to learn on so good authority is that the Golden Eagle,
so far from being threatened with extinction, is actually increasing
in the deer forests of the North. This is intelligence as welcome as
it is nowadays unusual. The book, which is published at 10s. 6d. net,
is dedicated "to one who loves the glens and corries of the hills";
and all who answer to this description should be grateful to the
writer for his delightful record.
* * * * *
Goodness knows that of all London's teeming millions I am the
possessor of the most easily curdled blood, but my flesh declined
to creep an inch from the first page to the last of _Animal Ghosts_
(RIDER). I think it was Mr. ELLIOTT O'DONNELL's way of telling
his stories that was responsible for my indifference. He is so
incorrigibly reticent. His idea of a well-told ghost story runs on
these lines:--"In the year 189--, in the picturesque village of
C----, hard by the manufacturing town of L----, there lived a wealthy
gentleman named T---- with his cousin F---- and two friends M----
and R----." I simply refuse to take any interest in the spectres of
initials, still less in the spectres of the domestic pets of initials.
I am no bigot; by all means deny your ghost his prerogative of
clanking chains and rattling bones; but there are certain points on
which I do take a firm stand, and this matter of initials is one of
them. Not one of these stories is convincing. Mr. O'DONNELL taps
you on the chest and whispers hoarsely, "As I stood there my blood
congealed, I could scarcely breathe. My scalp bristled;" and you,
if you are like me, hide a yawn and say, "No, really?" There is a
breezy carelessness, too, about his methods which kills a story. He
distinctly states, for instance, that the story of the "Headless Cat
of No. ----, Lower Seedley Street, Manchester," was told to him by a
Mr. ROBERT DANE. In the first half of the narrative this gentleman's
brother-in-law addresses him as _Jack_, and later on his wife says to
him, "Oh, _Edward_." What a man whose own Christian name is so much a
matter of opinion has to say about seeing headless cats does not seem
to me to be evidence.
* * * * *
There seems to be an increasing public for the volume of reflections.
At all events Mr. REGINALD LUCAS, who has already two or three
successes in this kind to his credit, has been encouraged to produce
another, to which he has given the pleasant title of _The Measure of
our Thoughts_ (HUMPHREYS). It is, of course, difficult to be critical
with a book like this; either it pleases the reader or it doesn't, and
that is about all that can be said. One reason for my belief that Mr.
LUCAS's _Thoughts_ will please is that he has put them into the brain
of a definitely conceived and very well drawn character. They are told
in the form of letters by this character to his old tutor. The writer
is supposed to be the rather unattractive and self-conscious eldest
son of a noble house, who suffers from the presence of a father and
sister who think him a fool, and a brother whose charm is a continual
and painful contrast to his own lack of it. The special skill of the
letters is their self-revelation, which brings out the pathos of the
writer's position, while at the same time showing quite clearly the
defects that explained it. Mr. LUCAS, in short, does not commit the
error of making his hero merely a mute, misunderstood paragon, whom
anyone with common penetration must have recognised as such. On the
contrary, we sympathise with him, especially in the big tragedy of
his life, while quite admitting that to any casual acquaintance he
must have appeared only a dull and uninteresting egoist. This I call
clever, because it shows that Mr. LUCAS has created a real thinker,
rather than striven to give him any unusual profundity of thought. An
* * * * *
In the sixteenth chapter of the First Part of _The Rocks of Valpre_
(FISHER UNWIN) _Trevor Mordaunt_ married _Christine Wyndham_, and on
the last page (which is the 511th) of the book, "she opened to him the
doors of her soul, and drew him within...." Granted that _Mordaunt_,
with the eyes of steel, was not exactly an oncoming man and that when
he married _Christine_ he received, as wedding presents, two or three
brothers-in-law who sponged hopelessly upon him, I still think that
Miss ETHEL DELL has given us too detailed an account of the domestic
differences between _Mordaunt_ and his wife. For my own part I became
frankly tired of the pecuniary crises of the _Wyndhams_ and of their
incurable inability to tell the truth. Had _Mordaunt_ got up and given
these feckless brethren a sound hiding I should have been relieved,
but he preferred to make them squirm by using his steely eyes. In
the future I suggest to Miss DELL that she should leave these strong
silent men alone. They have had their day and gone out of vogue. The
best part of this book, and indeed the best work Miss DELL has yet
done, is her treatment of the romantic friendship between _Christine_
and _Bertrand de Montville_. It is handled so touchingly and so
surely that I resent with all the more peevishness the banality of the
* * * * *
[Illustration: ONE OF THE FEW HISTORIC MANSIONS OF ENGLAND WHERE QUEEN
ELIZABETH DID _NOT_ SLEEP.]
* * * * *
"His lordship dismissed the application, with costs, and the
jury found in his favour, assessing the damages at L1,000."
We should like to be a Judge. It seems to be easy and well-paid work.
* * * * *
From the synopsis of a Singapore play--just the last scene or two:--
"Samion, after going through Nyai Dasima's fortune,
maltreated her, and told her to leave his protection. He also
commissioned a wicked man called Puasa to murder Nyai Dasima.
Puasa murdered Dasima, and throw her body into a river. The
corpse of Dasima floated and entangled in the bathing-place
of William. William, seeing this, at once reported to the
Police of Dasima's death. Puasa and others were arrested and
imprisoned. The Judge investigated the case, and Puasa was
sentenced to be hanged. Samion got mad and died. Mah Buyong
also got mad."
And so home to bed.
Back to Full Books