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Who Is William Shakespeare? Something About Broadway’s Newest Playwright By P. G.

WODEHOUSE Vanity Fair (May 1920) THERE have, of course, been other instances of men waking up to find themselves famous. Lord Byron had that experience after the publication of Childe Harold, a nd I myself can still remember the sensation it caused in Great Neck when it got about that I had at last succeeded in getting round the eighteen holes in under a hundred. But surely there was never so dramatic a case of an over-night rise from obscuri ty to what it would hardly be exaggeration to call fame, as that of William Shak espeare, the author of Arthur Hopkins’ new production at the Plymouth Theatre, Ric hard the Third. Here was a young man literally unknown except to a few intimate friends who had always believed in him; just one of a million young fellows trying to get along . . . And look at him now! They tell me you simply cannot get a seat at the Plym outh for weeks to come, and already — I write two days after the production of his great success — Mr. Shakespeare has signed contracts to write the next Winter Gar den piece, the 1921 Follies, and six farces for A. H. Woods. It is a signal inst ance of the truth of the adage that you cannot keep a good man down. The dramatist’s early career differs little from that of a thousand other young wr iters. As a boy he was always scribbling, but none of the family ever thought an ything of it. He went to school in the usual way, just missed making the footbal l team, went on to college, joined the glee-club, learned to play the ukalele, a nd made a certain purely local reputation for his taste in waistcoats. As a memb er of the college dramatic society, he had the task of providing the annual show wished on him, and, good-naturedly, sat down and dashed off Hamlet, a skit on t he Broadway murder-and-mystery play. It was well received, but not more so than any other college piece played to a friendly audience. (We shall have the opport unity of judging of its merits for ourselves next season, when Charles B. Dillin gham has announced his intention of producing it with music by Jerome Kern and a strong cast, including Joseph Cawthorne in the title rôle, supported by Olin Howl and, Hansford Wilson, Louise Groody, and Professor Spudd’s Nearly-Human Performing Sea-Lions.) Shortly after this, young Shakespeare graduated and entered his father’s celluloid collar and cuff business down near Trinity Church. His task was to polish up th e collars with chamois leather in order to give them that shiny appearance. It w as while engaged on these almost mechanical duties that he allowed his thoughts to turn once more in the direction of the stage. It is an unimportant but intere sting fact that the first rough draft of the scenario of Richard the Third was w ritten on two cuffs and a collar. Shakespeare Follows Drinkwater THERE was nothing of the amateur dramatist about young Shakespeare. He had the n ative shrewdness to perceive that in order to get a hearing he must study the ta ste of the Broadway public. He went out and bought an evening paper and looked d own the list of productions advertised on its theatre page. John Drinkwater had just made his great success with Abraham Lincoln, and Walter Hampden’s George Wash ington was announced as being in rehearsal. Moreover, in the Stage Jottings colu mn, he saw a paragraph to the effect that Oliver Morosco had accepted plays on t he subject of Whistler and Lord Byron. Obviously, the historical drama was the o ne best bet, and the only thing that remained for him to do was to think up some fellow who had not yet been staked out as a claim. Somehow, nobody had thought of Richard the Third.

So, that was that. There remained the question of treatment. He kept his eyes open, and soon discov ered that the two things in which the public were most interested just now were spiritualism and a good bedroom scene. It is because he was the first dramatist to combine the two that he now calls up the garage every morning after breakfast telling them to send round the Rolls-Royce. The scene where Richard gets into b ed might have been sufficient by itself: the ghosts by themselves might have bee n enough to put the play over: but the combination of the two on the same stage at the same time kept the first-night audience in their seats till nearly one o’cl ock in the morning, cheering. Mr. Shakespeare (who is entirely unspoiled by success) is the first to admit tha t he had a rare stroke of luck right at the beginning of the piece, that tricky point at which so many plays have failed. He had, he says, written the opening l ine, Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent, without any deeper motive than to get the darned thing started somehow. But the effect of those words on an audience w hich had struggled to the theatre through the eighth blizzard since Christmas ca n be imagined. It was electrical. There was a roar of applause from every part o f the house, calls for Mayor Hylan, cheers for the Street Cleaning Department, a nd a generally expressed sentiment that the kid was there and had the stuff. Fro m that point onwards the success of the play was never in doubt. Casting the Title Rôle BUT, in Mr. Shakespeare’s opinion, the most fortunate thing of all was the quite a ccidental selection of John Barrymore for the part of Richard. Originally, so hi s secretary, Mr. Bacon, informed me, he had written the piece with Ernest Truex in mind, but Mr. Truex, having read several of his scripts, preferred one entitl ed Othello, containing a good blackface part, in which he is to appear next seas on, and which is reported to be — broadly — on the lines of the more serious of the plays popularized by Al Jolson. Mr. Shakespeare owns that he never even considered the possibility of getting Ba rrymore, as he supposed The Jest would run for another nine years. Failing to in terest Truex, he next approached A. H. Woods, who thought that with a little fix ing the thing would do for Florence Moore. Mr. Woods suggested that Max Marcin s hould take the script and tune it up a bit, but with a courage unusual in a youn g and unknown author, Mr. Shakespeare declined to shade his royalties, which wou ld also have involved money. He accepted the offer of a couple of cigars — more or less gratefully — and left the office. William Collier liked the piece, but was already committed to The Hottentot. Fra nk Craven was rehearsing for The New Dictator, but gave young Shakespeare a lett er of introduction to Ed. Wynn, who was out with a revue of his own. Wynn offere d to buy the bedroom scene, but Shakespeare refused to detach it as it would kil l the property. Sam Bernard said he would buy an option, if the character of Ric hard were changed to a pickle-manufacturer from Milwaukee. Finally, just as the author was beginning to despair, he saw the announcement that The Jest was about to close. A taxi-ride to Arthur Hopkins’ office, a rapid reading of the first two acts, and a contract was signed. What followed is theatrical history. An Interview with Mr. Shakespeare “BY my halidome!” said Mr. Shakespeare, when I succeeded in getting him alone for a minute at the Ritz, where he was lunching on venison pasty, “In very sooth ye have got to hand it to this same Barrymore! He hath ye goods! The elements are so mi xed in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world: ‘This is some act or!’ What I always say to actors is ‘Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounce it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently.’ For, between thee and me and yon lampp

ost, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periweg-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable movie-shows and vaudeville . Am I right or wrong?” “Thou hast vociferated a mouthful,” we agreed. “Pardie!” said young Shakespeare, pleased, “I thought you’d see my point. Well, this Bar rymore, — nephew, I understand, to old John of Drew who draws, through being John, if you know what I mean — is All Right! He’s hot stuff! Not a note, not a nuance wr ong from start to finish. Best thing he’s ever done. Puts him right up in a class by himself, nor let any scurvy knave tell thee different! Beshrew me, but they m ay prate of Master Forbes-Robertson, his Hamlet; of Edmund Kean; of Booth, and y e rest of ye shooting-match; yet none of them — take thou it from me! — had anything , certes, on this same Barrymore, I will inform the world! And now, good friend, I must away, for already Phoebus’ car is high in the heavens, and I have a date t o shoot a few games with ye boys at ye Lambs. Give you good den!”

~~~ The End ~~~

Should Ocean Liners be Abolished By P. G. Wodehouse Vanity Fair (January 1923) AS I read over this article for the second time — which I bet you wouldn’t care to h ave to do — it strikes me that I have allowed a note of veiled peevishness to cre ep in here and there. I may be wrong, of course, but that it is how it seems to me. Somehow I appear to convey the impression that I am not altogether my sunny self. If that is so, I attribute it to the fact that I wrote the thing in my sta teroom on a table with five legs (four on the circumference and one in the cente r) which shook and slithered like a smitten jelly every time I tapped the typewr iter. Why five legs, you ask? Because, I reply, it was a table designed for the use of passengers on an ocean liner, and everything intended for the use of that section of humanity is in a class of its own. Sleeping accommodation, for insta nce. If you, gentle reader, were building a bed which was to be slept in by a di fferent person each week, would you take into consideration the fact that some a t least of those sleepers would be apt to measure more than four foot eleven in length? You would. They would never think of a thing like that on a liner. They can’t think any higher than Ernest Truex. But, there, one expects to rough it a bit when one sails the seas. The real trou ble with any ocean liner is the passengers. In connection with which I have only one remark to make. That remark is, Where do they get these guys? The Horrors of Deck Life IT seems incredible that in this age of progress steps have not been taken to im prove the standard of looks among ocean-travelers. Time after time I step on boa rd, full of optimism and feeling that this trip at any rate my fellow-voyagers w ill be — I do not say human, but at least semi-human. And every time I stagger bac k with a hand over my eyes, moaning “No, no!” You may argue that it is not their fau lt that they look like that. I say it is. When you see a fat man in a yachting-c

ap, horn-rimmed spectacles, and side-whiskers, I maintain that there is convinci ng evidence of premeditation and that the matter should be firmly dealt with by the proper authorities. Either these people should not be allowed on board at al l, or — if it is really necessary to get them out of the country — they should be hu rried over the gang-plank with masks on and kept in irons below till the end of the voyage. It is no good calling a vessel The World’s Wonder-Ship if you permit t hese excrescences to wander at large about the decks. There is no beating the game. If the weather is rough, they stay in their cabins . But so do you. And anything approaching fine weather brings them out in shoals . You would hardly credit the ghastly spectacle presented by the A. deck of a fa shionable liner on a sunny afternoon half-way through the voyage. And if you sta gger down onto the B. deck, it is just as bad there. And the Boat Deck is, if an ything, worse, because you find them up there playing shuffle-board. And, if you hide in your stateroom, you meet them at meals. This question of meals on board ship is a very vital one. At the beginning of th e trip you go to a steward on the D. deck, and he assigns you to a table. And at that table you have to remain till the finish. Even if you have the good fortun e to be herded in with a moderately attractive group, what charm they have is bo und to wane after you have lunched and dined with them for six successive days. Take the case of the poor devils who have me at their table. What happens? On th e first day of the voyage I imagine that they look over at me in a not unkindly spirit and say to themselves “Ah! Jolly old Wodehouse, eh? Capital!” The second day they feel that they have seen me before somewhere and that I am not nearly the t hing of beauty they had imagined me. My fascination has begun to wane. Only a li ttle, maybe, but still it has begun to wane. The third day a sort of nervous irr itation floods over them as I sink into my seat and reach for the menu. Half unc onsciously they begin to wish that my sister had not prayed for a baby-brother. By dinner-time on the fourth day they feel that this has been going on for ever, that there never was a time when they were not sitting at a table with too litt le room for their elbows and my beastly face goggling at them from over the way. They look at me and marvel at that weird parental affection which kept my fathe r and mother from drowning me in a bucket as a child. My bald head gleams at the m in the light of the electric bulbs, and they wish they could hurl something at it. More and more do they resent the vacant stare of my infernal eyes behind th eir spectacles. The way I eat seems to them proof of a diseased soul. And all th e time I am glowering across at them, astounded that the vigilance committees of their home towns have not taken steps to eliminate them years ago. Then the fif th day arrives, and the relief at the prospect of release induces a sort of gris ly geniality. Finally, we go ashore arm in arm, inviting each other to spend wee k-ends. A Simple Solution BUT to return to the matter of improving the standard of personal beauty in ocea n travelers. I would not have it said of me that I am wholly a destructive criti c and have nothing constructive to suggest, and so I put forward a scheme which would, I think, go far towards improving conditions on the modern liner. Already the authorities seem to be groping in the right direction. Before you can sail, you have to get a passport. And before you can get a passport you have to forwa rd a photograph to the Embassy. You would think that the authorities would have taken the next step, so obvious is it, but no. The solution of a crying evil is staring them in the face, but they do not see it. What they should do is simply to take a firm line and refuse passports to all whose photographs fail to pass a Board of Censors specially created for the purpose of dealing with this matter. After all, we have censors for everything else nowadays. When I publish my thou ghtful novel treating of sex-problems in the Middle West, Mr. Sumner takes a fly ing leap and lands on the back of my neck. When my movie, Scarlet Lips, is relea

sed, there are properly constituted persons to step in and blow the whistle. Why not, then, a censor for ocean travelers? He would, of course, have to be carefully chosen. You could not select a man for a post like that haphazard. As regards the female passengers, it would be easy. Mr. Flo Ziegfeld is obviously the man to deal with them. But for male travelers it would be a good deal more intricate, this business of sifting. You would hav e to have someone with intelligence enough to see that it is possible for the ma sculine face to possess a certain rugged charm which amply compensates for an ab sence of more conventional good looks. I myself, for instance, am — strictly speak ing — no John Barrymore. At first glance you might say to yourself that I am just the sort of man the censors would have to take a firm line about right away. But do not be too hasty. Wait a bit. Wait till you have seen me in my new Fall suit , the blue with invisible red stripe. Suspend your judgment till my last lot of collars come from the makers. Ah! you hesitate. Exactly. Mine is a style of beau ty which grows on you. It has to have time to get its effect. And there are many more like me. It would be fatal if the Board of Censors contained men of hasty and impulsive judgment. They would need to be cool, canny persons, with educated eyes. The Penalty of Delay BUT in the main, of course, their work would be fairly simple. Two chins or more would automatically disqualify the intending traveler. Horn-rimmed spectacles w ould only be allowed if the face was thin. Ears that stuck out at right angles w ould get a black mark, and would have to be made up for by singular beauty in th e nose and mouth. There would be a standard measurement for foreheads, and it wo uld be easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a camel than for a gold tooth to win its way across the gang-plank of the Aquitania. It may be that there are objections to such a scheme, of which I know nothing. I merely throw out the suggestion and leave it to the authorities to adopt it or let it go, as they please. But I do say this, that it is either a question of cr eating this Board of Censors or of abolishing ocean-liners altogether. If things are allowed to go on as at present: if small men with thin legs are permitted t o roam about the decks at will in plus-four golfing knickerbockers: if there is no bar to a man with a face like a Florida sheep’s-head fish sitting opposite you in the smoking-room; then — and I say it with all the impressiveness at my command — something will snap. Human nature is like Cousin Egbert. You can push it just s o far. One of these days, unless something is done, when the Berengaria ties up at its slip, those on shore will notice that the scuppers are red and dripping. Headless corpses will dot the settees in the lounge. Mangled remains will be amo ng the features of interest in the saloon. And a few hundred gargoyles will have made their last trip across the Atlantic. Let the authorities act while yet the re is time.

~~~ The End ~~~

The Nation’s Songs Revealing, for the First Time, the Identity of Their Author By P. G. WODEHOUSE Vanity Fair (December 1919) YOU have never heard of Andrew Fletcher, of Saltoun. (If you have, kindly preten

d you haven’t, or I shall have to begin this article some other way.) And who was Andrew? I’ll tell you. He was born in 1653 and died in 1716, and he is one of those pathet ic people who get only one quotation into Bartlett’s famous book. Along about 1690 Andrew was rather up against it. Among his contemporaries were Thomas Otway, Mathew Henry, Henry Carey, Matthew Prior, and Dean Swift; and ever y day he heard these fellows getting off one wise crack after another, all of wh ich he could see were destined to land in Bartlett, while he was still jockeying for a start. So he shut himself up in his study, ordered a few quarts of black coffee (the re al thing—none of that There’s-A-Reason stuff), and tied a wet towel ‘round his head: a nd after awhile he evolved this:— “I knew a very wise man that believed that if a ma n were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the l aws of a nation”. True, somebody later on—Gladstone, I think—did him out of a lot of the credit by put ting the thing much better and more crisply: but anyway that is what Andrew said , and it brings me neatly to the subject of my article. As foreshadowed by the t it1e, it deals with The Nation’s Songs. Who Writes America’s Songs? THE man who is permitted to write the songs of America employs a great number of aliases, doubtless from motives of prudence. To the vapid and unreflective publ ic it probably seems that Isadore Levinsky, the author of My Mother was a Collee n and my father’s name was Pat is a different person from Nathan Edelstein, who pl eads guilty to My dusky Dixie Maid: but anyone with any ability at all in the wa y of marshalling internal evidence can see that it is one man writing under diff erent names. And all the other names which we see on the title-pages of the new songs are merely further pseudonyms of this single individual. The proof is simple. We will admit, for purposes of argument, that there might be two men who red “land” a musical rhyme for “Uncle Sam”, and really believed that, if line with “childhood”, all they had got to do was to shove “wildwood” at next: but two is the outside number, and these rhymes——and others of the ur in every popular American song. conside they ended one the end of the same kind—occ

Then again, we have the significant matter of construction. The verse of each th ese songs ends with the word “said” or “cried” or the phrase “she to him did say” as a hand means of bringing in the refrain. Thirdly, and lastly, we have the similarity o f ideas, unavoidable by a man with such an enormous output. Yes, one man makes, all the ballads. Let us try to construct him as a personalit y from what we can glean from his printed works. The ignorant public—who, as Sherl ock Holmes bitingly says, could hardly tell a compositor by his thumb, or a weav er by his tooth, and who have to think twice before deciding whether a man they meet on the street is a retired corporal of marines with a mole on his left shou lder and a sister living in Canarsie, or a vers libre poet with a golf handicap of forty-seven—will doubtless be baffled. Not so the present writer. What Is He Like? THIS human song-bird has the following well-marked traits of character. He loves his mother but dislikes prohibition: he is a cheery soul, with a smile for ever

yone he meets: he wants to live in Dixie: he hates to get up in he morning: he a dmires the shimmy—and those who practise it: and he would prefer Ireland to be fre e. Who can he be? It sounds rather like Senator LaFollette. Yet, would Senator LaFollette have written so much about the War? Probably not. Our hero was particularly strong on the War, while it lasted, and, if there is o ne criticism that might be made of him, it is that he perhaps failed a little to appreciate the magnitude and seriousness of the thing. His idea of a song breat hing the spirit of the great holocaust was something on the lines of When the Ka iser Does a Shimmy from Berlin or Play Up That Croony Shell- Shock Melodee. One feels that Homer would have done better with the subject. But that, no doubt, was the way the thing struck our author, and, presumably, he did his best. At any rate, say what you will of him, he writes better than his father, the man who used to write the popular songs of England in the days when we were young. Here is the refrain of what Father always considered his best lyr ic, and its popularity shows that the public endorsed his view. This is how it r uns. You start at the top and read straight down:— Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay! Father was one of those slow, careful workers who chisel and polish every line o f a lyric before letting it Out of their hands. He wrote the last line first and worked up to it. He always used a blunt pen, and could not write unless there w ere roses in the flower-bowl on his desk. His favorite author was Keats, to whom , he frankly admitted, he owed much. The Four Main Branches OUR hero’s output is divided into four main branches—Songs about Smiles; Songs about China, India, Egypt, and other foreign localities; Songs about Mother; and Song s about the Shimmy. As a rule he keeps them separate, but, when pushed, is capab le of writing about Mother Smiling as she does the Shimmy; or toying with the pr oblem of whether Cleopatra would have done the Shimmy on the banks of the Nile i f she had had a Mother. What used to be his stand-by, the Moon, he has unaccount ably neglected of late, though a firm of publishers are now announcing a song en titled Moonlight on The Nile, which seems to suggest that the kid is about to co me back in great shape. The curious thing about him is that he seems to have inherited nothing of his fa ther’s penchant for the straight patriotic song. If there was one thing that Fathe r, despite the inherent modesty of a great artist, always claimed that he could do as well as the next man, it was the patriotic song. I don’t mean things like Oh , boy! the dough-boy is going to can the Kaiser!, but lyrics that strike a deepe r note. Deep note is right, because they were nearly always sung by basses. In t he old days, when you went to an English music-hall, you could be certain of bei ng confronted, at about ten o’clock, by a stout man in baggy evening-dress with a diamond solitaire in his shirt-front, who walked on the stage in a resolute way and stood glaring at you with one hand in the arm-hole of his waistcoat. You knew he wasn’t a juggler or a conjurer, because he had no props and no female assistant in pink tights. And you knew he wasn’t a dramatic twenty-minute sketch,

because he would have had a gang along with him. And presently your worst fears were confirmed, when he began to sing one of Father’s patriotic songs. Specimen re frain:— For England’s England still! It is and always will! Though foreign foes may brag, We love our dear old flag, And old England is En-ger-land still! Son doesn’t seem to go in for this sort of thing at all. It is hard to say why. Pr obably it’s a gift, and we all have our limitations. If our hero has tried the pat riotic song and failed, he has no reason to be ashamed of himself. A writer as v ersatile as he can well afford to fall down on one branch of his many-sided indu stry. No poet, however gifted, has ever had a really full hand. Shakespeare neve r wrote a single lyric which a jazz-and-hokum comedy team could put across. Brow ning couldn’t turn out a solitary Mother song——at any rate he didn’t. And, as for Edgar Lee Masters, he found, after repeated efforts, that he could n ot even rhyme ‘line’ with ‘sublime’, so he had to give it up in despair and do stuff tha t doesn’t rhyme at all.

~~~ The End ~~~

THE AGE, MELBOURNE. SATURDAY JANUARY 19, 1901 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ABSENT MINDED BRIDE GROOMS. ————<>———— MEN WHO MISSED THEIR OWN WEDDINGS. —————— At Ipswich recently, says a London contemporary, a marriage was about to take pl ace when it was discovered that the bridegroom was not present. Nobody had seen or heard anything of him, and the greatest confusion reigned until, some twenty minutes after the hour appointed for the service, his brother appeared on a bicy cle, with the news that the missing gentleman was too busy to come, but would pr esent himself at church on the following clay. When the wedding party reassembled at the tune mentioned the bridegroom was pres ent, but this time the bride had absented herself. A search was instituted, and she was found at her home, arrayed in wedding dress, but evidently determined to pay her fiance back in his own coin. She yielded, however, at last, and this ec centric pair were successfully united.

Most men are apt to be nervous on the last evening of their bachelor life, and a man living in a town near Bristol was no exception. So agitated, indeed, was li e that he had to take a powerful opiate before he could get to sleep. The draught proved instantly successful, and he was soon asleep. But, unfortunat ely, in his nervousness he had mixed so strong a dose that, when the appointed h our arrived, he was still in a deep stupor. Nor did he awake until late in the f ollowing afternoon, when he found everybody in the greatest consternation, think ing that he was in a cataleptic trance, from which he would never awake. Luckily for all concerned the drug left no bad effects, and the marriage was celebrated at the earliest possible moment. A ludicrous ease occurred recently where both bride and bridegroom missed the we dding. On the wedding morning the bridegroom received a letter from the bride in forming him that she had changed her mind and had married a more favored rival a t a registry office that morning. Curiously enough, the bridegroom had himself s ent a letter the night before begging her to release him from his engagement, as he was certain that they could never be really happy together. Cases of either the man or the woman saving “No” when the marriage service requires them to say “Yes,” though rare, have been known to happen. Several years ago a man l ost his intended wife in this way owing to his irritable temper. On the marriage day he had been the victim of a number of small accidents, and, thinking himsel f alone, he had indulged in some strong language, which the lady happened to ove rhear, and thinking that life with a man of such bad temper would be most unplea sant, caused a unique sensation by saying “No” instead of “Yes,” and walking out of the church. Nor could all the arguments of the bridegroom induce her to relent.

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------TO the literature of the streets a small volume has recently been added, which a t first sight induces the purchaser to think the charge of a penny an excessive one. This feeling, however, disappears after a thoughtful perusal of the work in question. It is a comprehensive dictionary of flowers, containing also a preface which is a prose poem, thirty lines of verse from the pen of an anonymous writer, and ful l information as to how neuralgia, tic, rheumatism, toothache, and gout may be c ured simultaneously at the extremely moderate cost of one and threepence. Few wi ll be found so grasping as to demand more for their penny. “Each blossom,” says the writer of the preface, “has its odour, its mission, its messa ge. The violet will never cease to speak of humility, or the marigold of vulgar jealousy. (A little hard, this, on the marigold.) And their odours! Who can forg et the delicacy of the violet’s breath, the sweet perfume of the rose, or the plea sant scented lavender. Oh! the measure of sweetness that comes from the silent c hildren of the sod to the speaking and thinking ones of earth!” Like the hero of o ne of Mr. Quiller-Couch’s poems, the writer certainly has a neat poetic vein when he is fairly started. A few more preliminary remarks on the subject of the arrangement of flowers, and

the reader is brought to the vocabulary itself. From this it is an easy task, e specially if one is a member of the class referred to as the speaking and thinki ng ones of earth, to weave romantic situations. It is, for instance, the mauvais quart d’heure preceding dinner. Our hero has been told off to take down the heroi ne, with whom he has for many a long month been secretly in love. He, being of a n intensely shy nature, feels himself unequal to the task of framing his opinion s in words. She being the very soul of maidenly reserve, cannot bring herself to lend him the helping hand he so sorely needs. He remarks that the weather is fi ne, especially for the time of year. She agrees. Then there is an awkward silenc e. This is where a knowledge of the language of flowers is of such vital importa nce. Assuming that the hero has brought with him a basketful of assorted blossom s, he commences by selecting an arbutus—not a whole tree, presumably, though our a uthor says nothing on the subject, but a portion of one. This he presents to the lady, thereby indicating to her, if she is also a speaking and thinking one of earth, “Thee only do I love.” Though naturally taken aback somewhat by this sudden d eclaration of passion, she follows suit according to her mood. She may select a double China aster, “I partake of your sentiments,” or perhaps, if she wishes to kee p him a little longer in suspense, she substitutes a single China aster, that fl ower expressing the cold but eminently proper words, “I will think of it.” This urges the hero on to further efforts. He thinks for a while. Then he presen ts her with a Dianthus. “Make haste” is the exact meaning of the Dianthus. To such a floral remark a floral snub is the only reply. She withers him with a Dipladeni a Crassinoda, “You are too bold.” His observations then become sharp and abrupt, aft er the fashion of Mr. Alfred Jingle. He produces in rapid succession a parti-col oured daisy, a damask rose, an eschscholtzia, and a jonquil. In effect he says : “Beauty! Brilliant complexion! Do not refuse me! I desire a return of affection!” She wavers and exhibits a marjoram, to show that she is blushing. His eloquence now gets the best of him in impassioned entreaties. He bends down, and begins to pull flower after flower from the basket. Having obtained as many as he require s, he arranges them before her in the following order. “Hortensia. (You are cold.) Purple hyacinth. (I admit my imperfections.) Henbane. (And I am sorry for them. ) Green locust tree. (My love will last beyond the grave.) Moving plant. (Observ e my agitation.) Pine-apple. (You are perfect!) Pink. (And I know that I am taki ng a great liberty), but Christmas Rose. (Put me out of my misery.) White Rose. (I am on the whole quite worthy of you), for Wheat stalk, white mullen, and vari egated tulip. (I am rich, good-natured, and have beautiful eyes.) Reversed vine. (No, I do not drink.) In a word stephanotis, and oxlip. (Will you accompany me to the East. Speak out!)” The effect of this speech is instantaneous. A red tulip, or in other words a dec laration of love follows, and the two proceed to dinner—the gong having just sound ed—an engaged couple. Other uses for the language of flowers readily present themselves. Biting sarcas m may be employed by presenting an unwelcome guest with a reversed sweet pea, wh ich signifies “Don’t go.” Delicate satire could be effected by a judge presenting a cr iminal after sentence with a sweet-scented tussilago, which, being interpreted, means “Justice shall be done you,” a charming present for a gentleman shortly to emb ark on a ten years’ visit, sweetened by toil and simple fare, at Portland or Dartm oor. Soon, too, the sight may be familiar in London of an army of rejected contributo rs blocking the streets opposite the various editorial offices, each wearing in his button-hole a simple red primrose, the sign of unpatronised merit. Undoubted ly, the language of flowers has many uses.

Mr. Halkett’s Romance The Free Lance no. 69, week ending Sat. January 25, 1902, p. 418 [Note: I’m owe Arthur Robinson thanks for this rare item.]

Mr. G.R. Halkett, the present editor of the “Pall Mall Magazine,” is an artist-journ alist. He has had a curiously romantic career. His story reads like the motif of some novel. All the materials of emotional fiction are there—the struggling young artist, the millionaire’s beautiful daughter, the stern father. It was at Manches ter that it happened. Mr. Halkett was at that time doing his best to get a footi ng on the ladder of success with his brush. The brush was mightier than the pen in those days. Commissions were few and very far between, but one day Fortune sm iled upon him. A very wealthy merchant prince of the town brought his daughter t o the studio to have her portrait painted. The young couple fell violently in lo ve with one another, and in spite of the vigorous opposition of the young lady’s f ather, were married. Stern Father The father thereupon acted as a father—in a novel—is expected to act. He refused to see his daughter, and cut himself off altogether from her. This, however, did no t discourage Mr. Halkett. He worked with redoubled energy at his profession, and slowly but surely made a name for himself. But the culminating point of the sto ry is still to come. The interdict of the father did not extend to his grandchil dren, and so it came about that they were sent on a visit to him. The experience d novel reader can guess the rest. The children came, were seen, and conquered. A complete reconciliation took place, and the merchant prince makes no secret of his intention of leaving them at his death his fortune.

The Pugilist in Fiction. By P. G. WODEHOUSE.

THERE are two novels in the library of pugilistic fiction which stand alone, Dr. Conan Doyle’s “Rodney Stone” and Bernard Shaw’s “Cashel Byron’s Profession.” In most books e hero is a pugilist because he is a hero. In these two he is a hero because he is a pugilist. Probably everybody who takes an interest in sport has read “Rodney Stone,” and has revelled in the fight between Berks and Boy Jim in the coachhouse, and the great battle on Crawley Downs between the smith and the West-countryman . He has waited in suspense with Sir Charles Tregellis when the last minutes are flying past, and still his man has not put in an appearance; and a thrill has r un through him as the crowd swirls and eddies, and an old black hat flickers up from their midst, and falls in the centre of the ring. It is a great scene, that . However often one may have read the book, and however much one may be prepared for the surprise, that magnificent climax comes as fresh as ever. “Rodney Stone” is an epic of the ring. “Cashel Byron’s Profession” is perhaps less well-known. Mr. Shaw has chosen for his he ro the best type of professional pugilist, a gentleman born, clever at few thing

s, but as straight as a die, and possessing a genius for fighting. In his prefac e the author makes a few remarks on the subject of pugilistic genius. By genius he means something higher than mere skill. Many boxers are skillful, but not one in a thousand possesses that peculiar gift, amounting almost to divination, whi ch enables him to foretell his opponent’s actions, and reduce the art of timing to a second nature. Jem Belcher is the best instance of genius in the history of t he ring. Mace was a genius. So was Sayers. So perhaps were John Jackson and Mend oza. But Belcher was the greatest of them all, and possibly it is Belcher who ha s been the author’s model for Cashel Byron. And I should be inclined to say that M r. Shaw had heard of the Tipton Slasher when he created William Paradise, his he ro’s opponent. Cashel runs away from school, and goes to Melbourne, where he meets Ned Skene, t he retired champion of the world. This is the beginning of his career in the rin g. He retires in the end unbeaten. “Cashel Byron’s Profession” differs from “ Rodney Sto ne” in two important particulars. In the first place, there is far less actual des cription in Mr. Shaw’s book. Conan Doyle loves to follow a fight from start to fin ish, round by round, omitting details that might offend, and emphasizing only th e finer features of the battle. Bernard Shaw treats the subject in a less partis an spirit, while of straightforward description there is only one passage, the g love-fight between Cashel and William Paradise at the Agricultural Hall. In the second place, “Cashel Byron’s Profession” is full of that quaint humour for which its author is celebrated. In “Rodney Stone” the hero, Boy Jim, is evidently an object of admiration to his literary parent, but Mr. Shaw gives one the impression of lau ghing in his sleeve at Cashel Byron. This, however, may be purely a matter of st yle. Nobody can help liking Cashel Byron. His frank self-confidence would win over th e keenest opponent of the manly art. His speech at the soiree in chapter six sho ws him at his best. He sees a picture of St. George alighting from his horse to fight an enemy on foot, and it offends his professional eye. “There’s a posture for a man to fight in!” he says. “His weight isn’t resting on his legs; one touch of a chi ld’s finger would upset him. You can all see he’s as weak and nervous as a cat, and that he doesn’t know how to fight. And why does he give you that idea? Just becaus e he’s all strain and stretch; because he isn’t at his ease; because he carries the weight of his body as awkwardly as one of the ladies here would carry a hod of b ricks. If the painter of that picture had known his business, he would never hav e sent his man up to the scratch in such a figure and condition as that.” As the a rtist himself was among the audience, this address naturally created something o f a sensation. It is Cashel, too, who observes that a champion is a lonely man, and who “was afraid of nothing except burglars, big dogs, doctors, dentists, and s treet-crossings. When an accident through any of these occurred, he would read t he report of it very seriously to Lydia, and preserved the newspaper for quite t wo days as a document in favour of his favourite assertion that the only place a man was safe in was the prize-ring.” On another occasion he rises at a dinner par ty, during dinner, in order to show one of the guests, an eminent bishop, how to break a burglar’s back in the act of grappling with him. And yet, in spite of the fact that in “Cashel Byron’s Profession “ he presents the bes t drawn pugilist in fiction, Mr. Shaw, in the preface to the book, expresses a h ope that the effect of the story may be to eliminate from modern fiction the ele ment of what he calls “romantic fisticuffs.” Perish the thought! Many novels are onl y worth reading for the scene where the hero, “with a half smile on his handsome f ace,” shows what he really can do, and to quote Mr. Shaw’s own words in their origin al blank verse: — Ducking to the left. Cross-counters like a hundredweight of bricks. That is an extract from “The Admirable Bashville,” a dramatic and shameless burlesqu e of his own novel by Mr. Shaw himself. The following passage testifies to his m erits as a romantic bard:— No time was lost In getting to the business of the day, The Dutchman led at once and seemed to land

On Byron’s dice-box; but the seaman’s reach. Too short for execution at long shots, Did not get fairly home upon the ivory. And Byron had the best of the exchange. These two books, as I have said, stand alone. But the name of the novels in whic h pugilism plays a part is legion. Charles Dickens himself drew a boxer in “Dombey and Son,” but a poor, weak-kneed caricature of his class he was. The Chicken was his name. The great Henry Pearce was also called the Chicken. But there the rese mblance stops. Dickens’s Chicken cannot by any stretch of imagination be taken to represent his profession as a whole. Some few of the scum of the boxing world ma y have been like him, but not many, while the best, and even the average pugilis t, was a different man altogether. Kenelm Chillingly represents the art in Bulwer Lytton’s works, but his science is not that of the present time, and it is doubtful if he could have stood up for l ong before a boxer of to-day. Personally, I would back the Public School middleweight champion (to exclude professionals altogether) of this or any other year against him to the fullest extent of my attenuated purse. There is a certain blo w yclept the funny punch, which would, I fancy, upset Kenelm badly. With “Rodney Stone” must, of course, be classed the short story “The Master of Croxley ,” a fine specimen of Conan Doyle’s descriptive style in matters of the ring. In the novel, strength and dogged endurance in the person of Jack Harrison triumph ove r science as exemplified by Crab Wilson; but in the short story, the Master—a toug h, hard-hitting fighter of the old school—falls before the quickness of the young doctor, Montgomery, who brings off a dramatic knock-out blow in the nick of time . There is an excellent fight in “The Witch’s Head,” by Rider Haggard, between one Jerem y Jones and a Boer giant called Van Zyl. Jeremy’s only hope is to avoid the Dutchm an’s blows, that gentleman being able to tap a large hole in the wooden panel of a wagon with the utmost ease. He therefore confines himself to long-range fightin g. But in the end the Dutchman closes with him, and attempts to strangle him. Je remy, however, remembering an old wrestling trick, tries it, with the result tha t Van Zyl flies over his shoulder and cripples himself for life, and all is joy and peace. Two of Mr. Jacobs’s best short stories, “The Peacemaker” and “The Bully of the Cavendish ,” deal with fighting. In the latter mention is made of a certain Sinker Pitt, a p rofessor of the art, who when in need of practice used to improve on the convent ional ball-punching by going the round of the public-houses dressed as a Methodi st clergyman and insulting hot-tempered sailor-men. A prizefighter also appears in “A Harbour of Refuge,” no less a celebrity than the Battersea Bruiser, eulogistic ally described by his commanding officer as a man who “could be champion of Englan d, if he would only take the trouble to train.” And yet the Bruiser, instead of be ing flattered, offers to “put sich a ’ed on ’im that when he wants to blow his nose he’l l have to get a glass to see where to go to.” Such is human gratitude. To conclude, Mr. Bernard Shaw observes sadly that the popular English novel is n othing less than a gospel of pugilism. And why not? All fights are good reading, and if the hero invariably wins, well, what does it matter? The villain is, as a rule, a most disreputable character, and fully deserves all he gets. And the h ero, whatever his faults, is certainly entitled to an occasional treat. Let the good work go forward!

The Idle King By P G WODEHOUSE

THERE was once a King of Aldebaran, and he was probably the very idlest man in t he world. He would sit on his throne and do nothing from morning till night. And then he would go to bed, and the next day it would be just the same. He did not hing but sit still. And he was not even nice to look at. It was not quite his fa ult that he was so lazy. His people would never let him do anything for himself. Sometimes he would say, “I t is a fine day. I will make a law.” And then the Vizier would come bustling up, m urmuring, “Excuse me, your Majesty, one moment.” And he would call Parliament togeth er and take the law out of the King’s hands and make it for him. And sometimes the King would say, “It is a fine day. I will go a-hunting.” And then the Lord Chief Huntsman would jump on his horse, shouting, “Don’t you trouble yourself, your Majesty. Allow me.” And the n he would blow his horn, and ride off and not come back for the whole day. And the King began to grow very tired of doing nothing. He could not enjoy his meals or the sunshine, or his dogs, or cats, or anything. So one day when the Vizier was busy making a law which he had specially wanted to make himself, and the Lor d Chief Huntsman had gone off with his hawk and his hound to save his Majesty th e trouble of hunting, he took off his crown and his beautiful clothes, dressed h imself up in a very old suit and a very old cap, and started out by the back doo r of the Palace to see the world. It was nearly his tea-time when he had started, and he soon began to grow hungry . It was about this time that the Lord Chief Butler always brought him a pot of tea (which, of course, he was never allowed to pour out for himself, though he w anted to dreadfully), and a plate of hot buttered toast, and little cakes with c hocolate on them. So he went to the nearest cottage, and knocked at the door. It was quite a treat for him to knock at a door all by himself. Generally the Lord Chief Footman did it for him. “Come in,” said a voice. “And mind the step.” The King went in. Round the table were seated the cottager, his wife, and his ch ildren. “Please, I want some tea,” said the King. “You will have to work for it,” said the cottager.

“What is work, please? Is it what everybody else does for me?” “It’s not what everybody else does for me, at any rate,” said the cottager, with a jol ly laugh, “and thank goodness they don’t. What I should do if everybody did my work for me, I do not know. I should be so dull that I should have no appetite for te a. Whereas now,” he added, taking a huge bite out of a piece of bread-and-jam, “my a ppetite is exceedingly good, thanks very much, and so forth.” And swallowing his bread-and-jam, he sang the following verse, to which the whol e family beat time with their teaspoons. Oh, I think a man’s crazy who’s idle and lazy, I pity the people who shirk. It’s a pound to a shilling, you’ll smile if you’re willing To work! work! work!

If you don’t see the beauty of doing your duty, Your happiness stops with a jerk. So I counsel you, dunce, to start learning at once, And work! work! work! It was rather a pretty song. “That sounds very sensible indeed,” said the King, when he had finished. “I should li ke to begin now, if I may. What shall I do?” “In yonder yard,” replied the cottager, “is some wood. Chop it. Will somebody kindly be good enough to oblige me by passing the jam?” So the King went out into the yard, and though he did not know very much about c hopping wood (for the Lord Chief Woodman always did that for him), he somehow ma naged to finish it in time. And then be went back, and settled down to a really good tea. “Well,” he said thoughtfully, as be finished the jam, “there is no denying it. This wo rk is a wonderful thing. I have never enjoyed my tea so much in all my life. Tha nk you very much.” “Not at all,” said the polite cottager. I beg you will not mention it.” He opened the door, and the King went out again upon his travels. He wandered some miles, until night began to come on, and he began to think abou t finding somewhere to sleep. At last he came to a castle, and rang the visitors’ bell. “Could you please tell me,” he said, as the servant opened the door, “if I might sleep here for the night? I have come a long way, and I am tired.” The servant said he would make inquiries within. He went through a door at the s ide of the hall, and soon came back with his master’s compliments, and he could ce rtainly sleep there if he was willing to do some work in return. “It certainly is a most wonderful thing, this work,” thought the King. “When I remembe r how little of it there was in my palace, and see what a great deal there is ev erywhere else, it surprises me. I will certainly do the work he wants me to,” he a dded aloud. “That’s right,” said the footman. “Come to think of it, there’s nothing like work.” And fixing his eyes dreamily on the ceiling, he sang the following verse: “Oh, work it is a gentle thing, Beloved from pole to pole. It suits the fancy of a king – “Ah,” interrupted his Majesty, “you’re right there.” “And,” went on the footman, “It satisfies his soul. “In idleness, though sweet at first,

Dull care is apt to lurk. But happier he, it seems to me, Who spends his time in work.” It was rather a nice song. “Excellent!” said the King. “Now show me the work, and I will do it.” The footman led the way to a cellar, and there were two heaps of great stones, and beside them lay a hammer. “There,” he said. “If you could kindly make it convenient to break those stones up sma ll, we should esteem it a personal favour, and in the meantime I will be getting your room ready. I’ll make you a nice cup of bread-and-milk to eat in bed. That’s t he hammer by the stones. You grasp it firmly in the two hands by the handle – that’s this end here – and hit a stone with it. And by a curious process which it would take too long to explain, the stone will break into smaller stones. You then hit each of the smaller stones in the same manner, and in time you will find that t he heap has become a lot of very small stones indeed. Then you come upstairs. Go od-bye.” The King knew nothing whatever about breaking stones, for the Lord Chief Road me nder always did the work of that kind in the palace, but he set to, and in quite a short time all the stones were broken up so small that he could hardly see th em. Then he put his hammer down, and went upstairs. And there, as the footman ha d promised, was the bread-and-milk steaming at the side of the bed on a chair. H e enjoyed it more than he would have believed it possible that any one could enj oy bread-and-milk. “Really,” he said to himself, “it’s a wonderful thing. Here am I, the King of Aldebaran, who usually find myself unable to eat anything more than a little wing of chick en, enjoying my bread-and-milk like a baby. It is really a fine invention, is wo rk! When I get back to my palace, I must practise it more. Now I’ll go to sleep.” He went to sleep at once. He had never slept so well in his life before. And when he got up in the morning. he felt so well that he danced twice round hi s room before coming down to breakfast. To earn his breakfast he had to pump water from a well. It was quite a new exper ience. At the palace the Lord Chief Ostler had always done it for him. He quite enjoyed it, and when he had finished he enjoyed his breakfast still more. After breakfast he thanked his host kindly, and went away. After stopping to wish the cottager, whom he found working in his garden, good m orning, he made his way back to the palace. The Vizier and the other courtiers welcomed him joyfully. They thought he had b een lost. “Well” said the Vizier, when he had heard the story of the King’s adventures, “if your M ajesty had thought of mentioning that your Majesty intended to take a walk, the Lord Chief Tramp might have taken it instead, and saved your Majesty the trouble .” “Then I’m very glad I didn’t mention the fact,” said the King. “In future I intend to do e verything I possibly can for myself. You do your work, and I’ll do mine.”

“Your Majesty is surely joking,” said the startled Vizier. “No King of Aldebaran has e ver worked.” “This King of Aldebaran is going to. And he is going to begin at once. Bring me th e Law Book.” “Cannot I –” began the Vizier. “Bring me the Law Book,” repeated the King. “In future I mean to make all the laws mys elf. And this is the first of them.” And in a beautifully clear voice he sang the following verse: “You may do whatever sort of work you please. You may do whatever task you’re most inclined to. You may do it on the earth or on the seas. You may do it in the air, if you’ve a mind to. You may choose to work at sums or plough your lands. You may choose an ordinary or a rum thing. You may do it with your head or with your hands. But every one in future must do something!” And they did. And they all in consequence lived very happily ever afterward.

~~~ The End ~~~

Stage and Sport May 19 1906 OF all the men who ever worried the captain of a touring team into an early grav e, that maniac Sanderson is the worst. To be sheep-dog to a side on tour is bad enough in ordinary circumstances. Under no conditions does the innate folly of man show up so luridly. You write h alf-a-dozen post-cards telling a man what train to catch at Waterloo, and you fi nd later that he went and waited patiently for an hour and a quarter at Victoria . Or he forgets his cricket bag, or his aunt dies the day before you start, and there is no time to get a substitute—for him, not for his aunt. And when you have

got the whole team to their destination, you must watch them like a hawk. Sharpl es, our fast bowler, will insist on sitting up to weird hours on the night befor e an important match, smoking strong tobacco and drinking whisky and soda; with the natural result that his pace on the next day lasts for a couple of overs, an d then fizzles out, and he continues with slow medium. I have to hound the man t o bed regularly, and superintend his undressing in person. After which I go and argue with Geake, our slow man, to prevent him experimenting with his latest hea d ball. He is always inventing a new ball, and it is a safe four to the batsman every time. Against Sidmouth, last year, they made 23 off him in two overs. He explained that he was luring the batsmen on and making them over-confident, a nd that in another over or two they would get themselves out. My hair is turning grey at the temples. But the worst of them all is the man Sanderson. He is one of the most beautiful bats in England. When he gets set, all you have to do is to lie back and applaud. He has strokes through the slips which words c annot describe. And his off-drive has to be seen to be appreciated. And he spoil s it all by his wretched nerves. I have met nervous batsmen in the course of my career, men who turned a pale green when they had to go to the wickets, but they were recklessly confident compared with Sanderson. One would think that when a man had played for his county and made innumerable runs in club matches, he woul d begin to have the rudiments of a faith in himself; but not so Sanderson. If he played against a kindergarten he would palpitate. He has brought the thing to a positive craze. He believes in omens. He has masco ts and other futile aids to run-getting. He cannot begin to think of making a sc ore, he says, unless he has his Zingari cap, his Rugby house-scarf, the bat with which he made fifty-seven for the county against the Australians, and some wret ched mascot in his trouser-pocket. The mascots vary. At one time it was a midget photograph. But she married a stockbroker, and the photograph gave place to a b ullet extracted from the shoulder of a man who got it at Spion Kop. When he join ed us in the year of which I am writing he showed me a miniature Golliwog. It ha d been given to him, he explained, in romantic circumstances, and was morally ce rtain to bring about a century on any wicket. In spite of this, however, I did n ot notice any increase of confidence in his batting. He had got out in his first over against Sidmouth, clean bowled by a ball which was simply made to be put p ast cover in his inimitable way; and the thought that this might happen again in the match with Seaton, which was to be played on the morrow, was taking years o ff my life. I was awakened early on the morning of the match by a bang on my door and a fumb ling at the handle. Enter the man Sanderson in pyjamas and a dressing-gown. “You awake, James?” “I am now,” I said. “Something awful has happened.” I sat up in bed. “That blackguard Sharples hasn’t been smoking? But he couldn’t, I’ve got his pipe.” “Sharples is all right as far as I know; in fact, I heard him snoring as I passed his door.” “Then what’s the matter?”

“My Golliwog’s gone!” I made a long arm and possessed myself of a slipper. A man who can wake you up i n the early morning simply because he can’t find a Golliwog is not the sort of man at whom one should hesitate to throw slippers. It took him on the funny-bone. M y second missile smashed the looking glass. Sanderson gazed at the ruin, and blenched visibly. “That settles it,” he said gloomily, “I’m safe for an egg now; there was just a chance b efore that I might scratch up a few, even without my Golliwog; but one can’t stand up against a lost mascot and a broken looking-glass on the morning of an import ant match. You’ve done it, dear feller, this time. Done it completely. It’s a round ’u n for me to-day.” I pleaded with him, I appealed to his manhood, to his patriotism, I conjured him by everything which I imagined he held sacred to pull himself together. He only sat there looking like some dishevelled bird, and refused to be comforted. It was a lovely morning—the sort of morning on which to win the toss and stay at t he wicket all day. Unfortunately, I lost the toss. It was then that I congratulated myself on havin g looked after my bowlers. Here was Sharples, bright-eyed and rosy, looking fit to bowl through the whole innings. Here was Geake, subdued with much argument, w earing the peaceful air of one who has never so much as heard of a head-ball in his life. I looked round for Sanderson, and saw him staring in a sort of cold horror at on e of the umpires, who was standing by the pavilion steps waiting for his colleag ue to join him. I went up to him and hit him on the back. “Hurry up, Sanderson,” I said. “What’s the matter now?” “Look!” I inspected the object of his scrutiny. The umpire was not a thing of aesthetic beauty, but there was nothing essentially repulsive in his appearance. He wore w hiskers, and was wall-eyed; otherwise there was little to find fault with in him . “Dear feller,” said Sanderson, clutching my arm, “it’s all over now; do you see that man ?” “The umpire? What’s the matter with him?” “You’ll hardly believe me, but that’s the very man who was umpiring in a match in Some rsetshire last year, in which I took specs. It’s an omen. You’d better put me in las t to-day, dear feller, I shan’t make a run.” If anyone knows what is the proper treatment for a man of this kind, I should be glad if they would tell me. “It’s probably not the same man,” I said, “and if it is, what does it matter, the umpire has got nothing to do with your making runs?” “It’s awfully kind of you, dear feller, to try and console me, but it’s no use. That u mpire on top of that looking-glass settles it.”

We spent the early part of the afternoon outing them for two hundred and fifty, then went in. I took Sanderson with me to the wickets. He had on his Zingari cap and his Rugby house scarf, and carried the bat with which he had made 57 agains t the Australians. Also the Golliwog was in his pocket, that mascot presented to him in romantic circumstances. The only thing that militated against a large sc ore was the sinister umpire, who was standing by the wickets waiting to give the batsman guard. Sanderson gurgled something inarticulate. I conjectured rightly that he was aski ng me to take first ball. I did so, and made a single off it. Sanderson trotted across the pitch with a wan expression on his face. He took guard, and glanced round him with a parade of noting how the field was p laced. As a matter of fact, I am prepared to give odds that he saw nothing. What happened next I consider a direct intervention of Providence. The bowler, a medium pace man with a nice off-break, bowled, and Sanderson let go at it blind ly. It was a purely speculative stroke. I am certain he did not see the ball. He hit out with all his strength at random. The ball came humming back down the pi tch, a foot from the ground. I sprang to one side to avoid it, and heard a sudde n sharp howl from behind me. When I turned I saw the umpire in a heap on the gro und. With one hand he held his ankle. Fieldmen came up from all sides, and formed an interested group, while short-sli p, who happened to be a doctor, felt the injured limb with professional gravity. Finally he delivered his verdict. The ankle was not broken, but very badly brui sed, and ought to be rested. They must get a new umpire. I caught Sanderson’s eye. The rest of his face was a mask, on every line of which was written remorse. Bu t his eyes gleamed with a new light. “Don’t you see, dear feller,” he whispered, “this smashes up the omen. Turns it round co mpletely. It’s a century now, old man, and nothing less.” And when the new umpire arrived, he proceeded without delay or preamble to cut t he next three balls like forked lightning past third man to the boundary. It was seven o’clock when we won, and Sanderson made his century off the last ball bowled. After taking off his pads, he went off to make inquiries after the inju red umpire. As he went he fingered the Golliwog very tenderly.

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One of these days Sanderson will have to give up towing with the Weary Willies. They will not be able to spare him from the Colney Hatch team.

THE END