PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
FEBRUARY 12, 1919.
"Officers," says a recent A.C.I., "may use their public chargers for
general purposes." Army circles regard this as a body blow at the
"I had a thrill the other night," writes a correspondent of _The Daily
Mail._ "I encountered a badger on Hampstead Heath." We hesitate to
think what he would have encountered if he had had two or three
The United States Immigration Bill now before Congress provides that
"an alien resident may be joined by his grandfather if over
fifty-five years of age." A proposal to extend the privilege to
great-grandfathers who have turned their sixtieth year appears to have
met with no success.
"It is highly probable," says the chief medical officer of the Local
Government Board, "that masks and goggles will be necessary to ensure
freedom from infection from influenza." People who refuse to adopt
this simple preventative should be compelled by law to breathe
exclusively through their ears.
The sensational report that the new Director-General of Housing has
already found a house turns out to be unfounded. It is no secret,
however, that the Department is on the track of several.
"There is a Members' cloak-room," says a contemporary in "Hints
to M.P.'s," "where an attendant will take your coat and hat." So
different from those other political clubs where another member
usually takes them.
SHAKSPEARE on Glasgow: "For this relief much tanks.".
The salute, says a correspondent, is being reintroduced into the
German Army. Kicking an officer on the parade-ground for other than
political reasons is also forbidden.
The Consumers' Council urge, _inter alia,_ "that the Food Ministry
ought to be retained so long as there is any need of food control."
This view is regarded as entirely too narrow by officials of the
Ministry, who feel that the public is just beginning to love them for
A sale of ninety specially-selected mules is announced to take place
at Tattersall's to-morrow. In the technical language of the live-stock
trade a "specially-selected" mule is one which has a clear reach of
six feet at either end.
"The Government must say what it will do," states _The Daily Mail_.
Waiting for _The Daily Mail_ to say it first must not be allowed to
degenerate into a mere mechanical habit.
For impersonating a voter a carpenter of Gloucester has just been
sentenced to a month's imprisonment. Where he succeeded in obtaining
the disguise from is not known.
* * * * *
[Illustration: WHEN TAKING A NEW HOUSE ALWAYS EMPLOY A PROFESSIONAL
* * * * *
A LOVE TRAGEDY.
He was a smart new clinical thermometer. She was a pretty nurse in
an influenza ward. His figurings were clear and his quicksilver
glittered. Her eyes were blue and a little curl peeped from under her
cap. He fell madly in love with her; and when her dainty fingers toyed
with him his little heart swelled to bursting and he registered all he
So when she took her morning temperatures her patients were
desperately high, and when the other nurse took them in the evening
they were three degrees lower; and the doctors were much perplexed.
They put the love-struck thermometer in a tumbler of warm water with
two others to test him; and, freed from her influence, he recorded
correctly. Learned authorities on medical research meditated
pamphlets, on the new variation of the universal plague.
Then came a morning when the pretty nurse, after too many cigarettes
the night before, took her own temperature. For the adoring
thermometer the supreme moment had arrived. In rapturous ecstasy at
the touch of her dear lips he rose to heights of exaltation that left
his other efforts far behind. "Drat the thing," exclaimed the pretty
nurse, putting him down nastily, "I've got it myself now," and went
off to bed. He, broken-hearted, rolled off the table and died.
* * * * *
"I remember," said a veteran of nineteen, "when there was a hansom at
the stand at the corner."
"Oh, that's nothing," said a venerable spinster of twenty-one. "I've
been, to dances with a female chaperon where there was no smoking on
the stairs, and some people danced a thing they called a 'tango.'"
"When I was working on the land," resumed the first speaker, "I had a
day off and went to lunch with people close by. The man who sat next
me was a judge and asked me what an 'old bean' meant."
"Oh, cut it out!" interposed an aged matron who had not hitherto taken
any part in the conversation. "When I was born there was no _Daily
Mail,_ when I went to school I was taught to play the piano with my
fingers, and when I married people hadn't begun to 'jazz.'"
* * * * *
A NEW GAME OF BAWL.
"An open howling handicap will be held at Talleres, F.C.S., next
_Standard (Buenos Ayres)_.
* * * * *
"At a meeting of the newly-formed British and Allied Waiters',
Chefs' and Employees' Union the president said that one of
their main objects was to stop enemy aliens from spoiling their
business. They must do this themselves."--_Daily Paper_.
And some of them, it must be admitted, have been making considerable
efforts in this direction.
* * * * *
It happened a long time ago. Higgins, Mackenzie and I, three
irresponsible subalterns, had been lent to the Government of India
for famine relief work. One Sunday we foregathered in the cool of the
evening at a dak bungalow, near the point where our three districts
met, to compare notes and to swap lies.
"How are you getting on?" I asked Higgins.
"I'm not getting on at all. I'm just stagnating. I do all my work and
draw my pay, and there's the end of it. I'm sure the regiment has
forgotten all about me, and in fact no one seems to be aware of my
"Why not write to the Government of India about it?" remarked
"Yes, I'm sure that's the best thing to do," I agreed. "The Collector
in my district is always writing to the Government of India, and the
Government prints all he writes and sends it round with remarks and
decisions. He will get all sorts of honours and rewards out of this
"Yes. But what shall I write?" asked Higgins. "If I simply say there
is a chap called Higgins who is terribly bored and wants some notice
taken of him, they won't print that sort of tosh."
"Not that particular kind of tosh, perhaps," agreed Mackenzie. "You've
got to write about your work and ask for a decision on some point or
other. Then they'll remember your existence; and if you write often
enough you will gradually crawl out of obscurity into the limelight.
Almost anything will do to start with."
"Well, I found an old woman to-day in one of my camps who could not
eat her ration, because she had no teeth. Can you make anything out of
that?" asked Higgins.
"We'll have a shot at it anyway," replied Mackenzie. He pulled a sheet
of note-paper and a pencil out of his pocket and wrote the following
draft:--"There are in the famine camps in my area some toothless old
people who cannot eat the ordinary ration. What shall I do about it?"
"The gist of the letter is all right," I said, "but the style wants
polishing. Higgins's education will be gauged by our style. Cross out
'some toothless old people' and write 'certain edentulous persons.'
Put 'masticate' instead of 'eat.' Then you must not say, 'What shall I
do about it?' That sounds too helpless. You, or rather Higgins, must
appear as a man of unbounded initiative and resource. You must write,
'I suggest that a special ration of soft food be issued to such
persons.' That will help the Government of India to solve a very
difficult problem, and Higgins will earn its eternal gratitude."
The amendments were passed unanimously. Higgins copied out the letter
in his best handwriting and sent it off through the long and winding
channels by which subalterns on famine duty communicate with the
heaven-born ones who sit on the far-off hills.
We separated next day, and I forgot all about the matter until three
weeks later, when, going through my official mail, the name Patrick
Aloysius Higgins caught my eye. There was our letter printed in full,
and below it was the epoch-making decision of the Government: "A
special ration of soft food may be issued to edentulous persons in
Higgins's success evidently provoked Mackenzie to emulate it. Some
time later I received another printed document. After the usual
official opening, with its reference numbers, etc., it ran as follows:
"There are in the famine camps in this area certain persons who,
though not edentulous, are yet unable to masticate the ordinary
ration. Though they have some teeth, the teeth are all in one jaw.
May such persons be considered as edentulous for the purposes of the
decision referred to above? Signed, JAMES DOUGLAS MACKENZIE." The
Government was again pleased to record its approval.
The letter roused my jealousy. Higgins and Mackenzie, by the use of
my distinguished literary style, had both got well along the road to
fame, whilst I was still languishing in obscurity. Something must be
done about it. I took a pen and wrote: "There are in the famine camps
in this area certain persons who, though they are not edentulous and
though they have some teeth in both jaws, are yet unable to masticate
the ordinary ration because the teeth in the upper jaw correspond
with the gaps in the lower, and _vice versa_. May such persons
be considered as edentulous for the purposes of the two previous
I sent the letter off to the Government of India. The reply came by
return of post:--
"The Government of India, in response to representations, has
authorised the issue of a special ration of soft food to edentulous
persons in famine camps. In the interpretation of the term
'edentulous' considerable latitude may be permitted, and is indeed
desirable, so that it may in practice be applied to many individuals
who, according to meticulous physiological standards, should not be
so classified. The determining factor in the application of the
term should be the inability of the individual concerned to extract
sufficient nutriment from the normal ration, owing to imperfect
mastication. Such persons will invariably exhibit symptoms of
mal-nutrition or cacotrophy.
"The Government is confident that the foregoing general ruling will
enable junior and inexperienced officers, temporarily employed
on famine duty, to classify appropriately and with facility as
denticulate or edentulous all individuals afflicted with dental
hiatus, mal-conformation and labefaction, without further reference to
As I read the letter with the help of a dictionary, it dawned upon me
that the Government of India had won the game beyond all doubt and
* * * * *
TO SAINT VALENTINE.
Patron of hearts and darts and smarts
(Which, I suspect, you stole
From Cupid, when the Pagan arts--
Which only edified in parts--
Took on an aureole),
And patron of the robins, who
Select your day to mate
(An act, from any point of view,
Considering what March can do,
Rash and precipitate),
We seek no boon for any friend
(Or lover, if you like);
We only ask that you will send,
If saintly powers so far extend,
On day without its strike.
* * * * *
THE DRUG HABIT--ALARMING DEVELOPMENT.
"The old-fashioned doctor is scandalised at the trade union
movement in the profession. In extreme cases he is said to be
taking his own medicines."--_Provincial Paper_.
* * * * *
Extract from _The London Customs Bill of Entry_, January 25th:--
"Import, s. @ Rotterdam, of Holland, 175 bdls baskets containing
We always suspected they were of foreign origin; and here we have
* * * * *
From a report of Col. F.B. MILDMAY'S speech:--
"Just as an accomplished horseman exercised ideal control over the
strongest horse with the lightest hand, so Mr. Lowther had shown
such tactful skill in handling them that those who had sat under
him had bus-consciously been disposed to accept his guidance."
A praiseworthy effort of the printer to keep up the metaphor.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE VICTIM.]
* * * * *
THE PATRIOT PIG.
Last Spring I was discussing food with our local doctor. Last Spring
it was quite a favourite topic.
"Now," I said, "we can manage to scratch along somehow. But next
The Doctor, a hearty man, gave me a smashing blow on the shoulder. "I
have it!" he trumpeted. "We'll start a Patriot Pig Club."
Before he left I found myself an important pillar of the scheme.
Pillars, you know, are the parts of an edifice that bear the weight.
Their function is to be sat upon by the arches. In this case the
arches were Jones the doctor and Perkins the butcher.
The Committee began sitting. I put five pounds into the preliminary
pool and promised them all my pig-swill. I know I did, because the
Doctor came straight from the meeting to my house to tell me I had,
and to collect the cheque.
The pigs arrived. I myself and a number of other enthusiasts turned
out to welcome them. The Doctor, I remember, made a happy little
speech, and we all laughed a lot. The Committee were very pleased with
themselves. They _were_ dear little chaps--the pigs, I mean--very
small, of course, but that gave me the opening for what was
undoubtedly the most successful sally of the afternoon. Someone said
they weighed five pounds apiece. "One pound per pound," I remarked.
A week later the Doctor called for my second instalment. "Pig going
strong," he chattered gaily while I wrote out the cheque; "best of a
good litter--bust its pink ribbon yesterday; twice the weight it was
when it came."
It was on the tip of my tongue to repeat my witticism, which was still
true, but I refrained.
I paid the first dozen five-pound instalments without comment. Up till
then I had been fully occupied in studying how FOCH was getting on
with the other sort of pig over there. But now I began to think.
I was thinking heavily when I put on my hat, but when I reached the
premises of the Patriot Pigs I was thinking things that I prefer not
to talk about. To begin with, they were housing the poor little beasts
in a place you wouldn't dream of inflicting on the poorest labourer.
And the overcrowding! And the dirt! And the pigs themselves! They were
positively uncanny. There was something almost human about them. They
were all heads and no bodies. It was just as though the other half of
the wits of the half-witted boy who looked after them had distributed
itself among the whole herd. I could have wept when I thought how
my purse and my swill-tub had been emptied to keep such puny
monstrosities in the land of the living.
I had my pig taken out and weighed. He turned the scale at forty-eight
A week later I went and weighed him again; he had shrunk to forty.
I am a man of action. In a flash my mind was made up. I put him on a
string and led him home.
My wife seemed rather surprised when we entered the drawing-room, but
I hastened to explain.
"I paid five pounds," I said, "for a five-pound pig. Since then I 've
paid fifty-five pounds more, and I have been led to expect, that at
the very least the pig was keeping pace. But it isn't. The sterling
is increasing by leaps and bounds; the avoirdupois is not even
stationary. That's not counting several tons of swill that ought to
be inside him but aren't. It can't go on." I paused and added darkly,
"That pig shall not return."
"But surely you're not going to have him live with _us_, Henry?"
I controlled myself.
"No, Maria," I said, "I am not. At a late hour to-night we will take
him out into the country and lose him."
"Oh, Henry," she began, "supposing--"
I interrupted gently but firmly.
"My mind," said I, "like BERT COOTE'S, is made up. He is my pig and I
may do what I like with him. There is no law against one losing one's
pig. Besides, he is ruining me."
At 10 P.M. we set out _en famille_. It was July. I remember the date
rather particularly because it was just then that they ceased to
ration bacon altogether. At 10.30 the pig was safely lost. At 11 the
front-door closed upon us. At 11.1 little Willy Perkins, the butcher's
son, arrived with the pig and claimed something for restoring lost
A man with a position to keep up simply can't afford to be caught in
the act of feloniously making away with pigs in war-time; besides
DORA was still alive and she might have something to say; so I had to
pretend how pleased I was, and I gave the scamp half-a-crown.
Now I know Perkins and Son well enough to realise that if the animal
had been worth more than half-a-crown they would have allowed me to
lose my pig free of charge. So I made another resolution. It was
pretty drastic, but in a crisis like this severe measures are often
the best. In short, it was murder I contemplated--nothing less.
I went to work carefully. I let four months slip by to allay any
possible suspicion. I paid my weekly cheque without being asked;
without a murmur I parted daily with my swill; in fact I comported
myself as though the unholy plot maturing in my breast was
At length the night arrived. I took down my long magazine Lee Enfield
and my cartridge (I am not a Volunteer for nothing) and crept to the
Patriot Pig H.Q.
The once-crowded sty lay dark and still. I entered and switched on my
torch: it shone on the loathsome features that I knew so well. He was
all alone, so there could be no mistake. His head was as large
as ever, but his body seemed scarcely visible. I weighed him; he
registered fourteen pounds.:
I will not harrow you, my reader, with details. Suffice it to say my
nerve was sure, my eye true and my hand steady. I killed that pig with
a single shot and went home to bed.
The Doctor arrived next morning while I was shaving. He was white with
rage. He said:
"What the deuce do you mean by killing my pig?"
"_Your_ pig ?" I smiled. "No, _my_ Pig!"
"Stuff and nonsense!" he spluttered. "_Your_ pig died four months
ago--caught cold last July through being out so late at night and died
That roused me. "Do you mean to tell me," I asked coldly, "that I've
been paying five pounds a week for the last four months for a dead
"Very kind of you, I'm sure," replied the Doctor, "but no one asked
you to, you know."
Adding together all my expenses--the weekly subscription for my pig;
a similar sum paid to the Doctor for his; the value of my swill; the
fine imposed (by DORA) for improper use of firearms; ditto (by the
Magistrate) for shooting game without a licence; alleged damage to the
P.P. premises and the remaining wits of their custodian; and finally,
the bill from Mr. Perkins for a pound of pork purchased in July, and
the account from Dr. Jones for professional attendance subsequent to
consumption of same--adding all these together I find that from first
to last I disbursed L385 5s. 5-1/2d. on the patriot.
With pork at two shillings a pound my outlay should have produced a
pig that weighed 1 ton 14-1/2 cwt. Truly that would have been a very
Hindenburg of a pig. It was almost worth trying.
* * * * *
"General Servant wanted, by middle of February; no small
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Proprietor (to assistant recently released from the
Army)._ "WHY, WHATEVER MADE YOU OFFER TO SEND THE GOODS HOME FOR HER?
ANY FOOL COULD TELL YOU'VE BEEN OUT OF CIVILISATION DURING THE WAR."]
* * * * *
TO THE SPEAKER ON HIS RE-ELECTION.
Good Mr. SPEAKER, in this troublous time,
When it is hard to string a cheerful rhyme,
Your genial influence unshaken bides
Amid the flux of shifting sands and tides;
And, re-electing you by acclamation,
The Parliament has acted for the nation,
Which, while acknowledging the Members' _nous_,
Congratulates not you, Sir, but the House.
'Tis fourteen years since you were called to bear
The heavy burdens of your "perilous Chair"--
What years, what burdens! Yet your steadfast mien
Has never failed to dominate the scene.
Others have found the post a giant's robe
Or lacked the needful patience of a Job;
But you, by dint of fearless common sense,
Have won and held all Parties' confidence;
Firm as the rock and as the crystal clear,
When need arises righteously austere,
Ready, not eager, your advice to lend,
And not afraid in season to unbend.
Thus, tested by a strain that very few,
If any, of your predecessors knew,
You come at last, among the lesser fry,
To loom so largely in the public eye,
That, we regard you, greatest of your clan,
More as an institution than a man.
* * * * *
"Will young officer requiring rest help farmer catch rabbits for a
month?"--_Church Family Newspaper_.
It was at tea last Sunday that we met for the first time for
three-and-a-half years. He was sadly altered. To the casual observer
he may still appear his own attractive self; the change in him is
He isn't what he was, but none the less it is wonderfully delightful
to have him among us again. A girl at the next table noticed him and
spoke smilingly to her companion. But I--I sat and looked at him and
never said a word.
Before the War I was fond of him, but I doubt if I could ever have
realised how much I should miss him; and nothing has brought home
to me so surely the astounding fact that at last it is over as his
Sitting opposite to him here brought back the jolly memories of other
teas in that distant pre-war life of ours--memories of bright faces,
gentle clatter of cups, charm of soft clothes, strange forgotten sense
of comforts, and one particular smile; and, throwing off from me the
gathering gloom of the war-weary, I dug my fork joyously into his
brown bosom and raised the chocolate _eclair_ to my lips.
* * * * *
"By placing a lemon in the oven for a few minutes nearly the
entire pulp turns to juice. When next you want orange-juice try
But why not use an orange?
* * * * *
"As a woman married to an Army officer for nineteen years I do not
consider that I could possibly, on less than our present income,
provide my children and husband with the necessary education and
comfort."--_Letter in Daily Paper_.
Some husbands take a lot of educating.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Assistant Paymaster_, "HOW LONG WERE YOU IN YOUR LAST
JOB?" _"Hostilities Only" Man_. "THREE MONTHS, SIR." _A.P._ "WHAT WERE
YOU DOING?" _H.O.M._ "THREE MONTHS."]
* * * * *
THE MAN WHO STAYED AT HOME
(A SOLILOQUY AFTER A DAY'S WORK AT THE MINISTRY OF FOOD).
[Sir JOHN FIELD BEALE, formerly First Secretary of the Ministry of
Food, has been in consultation with the Supreme Council for Supply
and Relief in Paris. Sir WILLIAM BEVERIDGE has just returned from
a mission of inquiry into the food situation in Austria.]
Let others speed to far Sequanian shores
To end the War that was to end all wars,
Where peace-pursuing Discord loud debates
And all hotels are packed with Delegates;
Where pundits in the Parliament of Man
Discuss or Georgian or Wilsonian Plan;
Where fickle Fate dispenses weal or woe
Respectively assigned to friend and foe;
Where Cornucopia meekly comes to heel
Under instructions from Sir JOHN FIELD BEALE.
Let others in Icarian feats engage
With the ingenious aid of HANDLEY PAGE;
Haste to discover all that may be known
About the situation in Cologne;
Or, like Sir WILLIAM BEVERIDGE, to appease
The clamourings of esurient Viennese--
In none of these things Fortune waits for me,
Nor Knighthood cheap, nor unctuous O.B.E.
Ah, not for me to note with facile pen
Successive stages of the L. of N.
With calorimetric and statistic arts
Administer the prog of Foreign Parts,
Or, eager not to do the thing by halves,
To reconcile the Czechs and Jugo-Slavs--
I will, resigning honours, kudos, pelf,
Administer hot cocoa to myself;
Then to repose; for it is truly said
The best location of mankind is BED.
* * * * *
"Wanted by respectable woman, a couple of Gentleman's Trousers
(left off)."--_Irish Paper_.
* * * * *
"A Caproni machine flew a distance of 325 miles in four
A correspondent writes to ask if this is double the time usually
described as "two two's."
* * * * *
"At 11 o'clock the muster roll at many shops and offices was still
incomplete. Indeed assistants were reported 'missing' at many
establishments an hour later. There were girls--Government and
others--who stayed at home."--_Evening Paper_.
Little pigs who wouldn't go to market.
* * * * *
"At Bolton on Saturday the United Textile Factory Workers'
Association decided to put forward a demand for a 4-hours week,
with the same rate of pay as for 55-1/2 hours."--_Provincial
We trust this is a misprint and not an "intelligent anticipation" of
what we are coming to.
* * * * *
"The teachers of ---- are not satisfied with the scale of salary
fixed by the Education Committee, and yesterday morning a
deputation waited upon the Special Salaries Committee to state
their case. The Education Committee decided to increase the salary
of the borough Director of Education from L450 to L500."
And if that don't satisfy 'em--Bolshevism, my dear Sir, Bolshevism!
* * * * *
[Illustration: _The General (showing his nieces round Club_). "THERE'S
BEEN A LOT OF ARM-CHAIR FIGHTING DONE IN THIS ROOM." _School-Girl._
"HOW TOPPING! THAT BEATS PILLOW-FIGHTING. BUT ISN'T IT RATHER
* * * * *
Captain Edwin Peck, E.N.,
Had the habits of a hen.
Edwin's nose was like a bone,
And his teeth were not his own;
Neither, I regret to tell,
Did they fit him very well.
It was not his fault, no doubt,
That they tried to tumble out,
And in fact he seldom dropped them,
For he almost always copped them
Just as they became unstuck
By ejaculating, "Cluck."
Yoked to this elusive plate,
Did our Edwin curse his fate?
No, he was content to live,
For he was inquisitive.
If he saw a speck of grit
He must needs examine it,
Not as any other might,
Standing at his proper height,
But with body slightly slanted
And his head obliquely canted,
While with small unblinking eye
He surveyed it wickedly.
One fine Sunday Captain Peek
Stalked along the lower deck,
Pausing now and then to stare,
Poking here and scratching there,
Like a pullet in her prime
Clucking softly all the time.
Presently the Captain spied
One small scuttle open wide.
"Cluck!" he said, and likewise. "Tut!
"Every scuttle should be shut;"
And with a malignant snort
Poked his head out through the port.
That was easy, but, alack!
When he tried to get it back
There was heard an angry cluck--
Captain Edwin Peck was stuck!
Strange at first as it appears,
He had overlooked his ears;
But it's not so queer, perhaps,
When you ask, "Have hens got flaps?"
Silence! You'd have heard a pin
Fall upon the deck within,
Till the Bloke was heard to shout,
"Stick it, Sir! We'll get you out!"
Everybody had a go--
Chief, Commander, P.M.O.,
Padre, Carpenter and Stoker,
Using engine-grease and poker,
Hawser, marlin-spike and soap,
Till at length they gave up hope,
For, in spite of all they did,
Edwin fitted like a lid.
Suddenly upon the scene
Came a German submarine.
Then a flash, a roar, a groan;
"We are sinking like a stone!"
Cried the Bloke with angry frown;
"Can we leave poor Peck to drown?
Really, this is _too_ absurd;"
Then a miracle occurred.
As the cold green waters roll
Round poor Edwin in his hole,
Are the watchers wrong in thinking
That the Captain's neck is shrinking?
As she took her final list on,
Sighing, "uedor men aeriston!"
Long-enduring Captain Peck
Gracefully withdrew his neck,
Poked it out again and spoke
To the sorrow-stricken Bloke:
"Nothing more that we can do?
No? Then sound the 'Sove kee poo!'"
Need I tell how Captain Peck
Was the last to leave the wreck,
How the good ship perished, or
How he brought them safe to shore,
Landing, after all his men,
Clucking softly like a hen?
* * * * *
Up-to date quotation for foot-sore Londoners: "Et Tube, brute!"
* * * * *
THE MUD LARKS.
One reads a lot nowadays about the "slavery" of various habits (drug,
drink, bigamy, etc.) and loud is the outcry. But there is yet another
bondage, just as binding and far more widespread, which nobody ever
seems to mention, namely, the drill habit. Drill the young soldier up
in the way he should go and for ever after his body will spring to the
word of command, whether his soul approves or no.
Once upon a time two men turned up in a railway construction camp deep
in the Rhodesian bush. They were a silent, furtive, friendless pair,
dwelling apart, and nobody could discover whence they came, whither
they were bound, or, in fact, anything about them. It was generally
conceded that they had some horrid secret to bury (camp optimists
voted for "murder") and left it at that. Time went by and so did the
rail-head, leaving the two mysteries behind as permanent-way gangers.
Solitude seemed to suit them. Years passed along and still the two
remained in that abomination of desolation guarding their stretch of
track and their horrid secret. Then one day ROBERTS rolled by on his
way to Victoria Falls, and, his train halting to tank-up, the old
Field-Marshal stepped ashore and called to the two gangers, who
happened to be close at hand tinkering at their trolley. The guard,
who was taking a bottle of Bass with the steward on the platform of
the diner, suddenly jabbed his friend in the brisket.
"Look, for the love of Mike!" he giggled.
The two gangers were standing talking to "BOBS," shoulder to shoulder,
heels together, feet spread at an angle of forty-five degrees, knees
braced, thumbs behind the seams of their trousers, backs hollowed,
heads erect--in short in the correct position of attention as decreed
in the Book of Infantry Training. The old man finished speaking and
the two saluted smartly and broke away. The steward looked at his
friend and nodded, "Old soldiers."
"Old deserters, you mean," retorted the guard. "_Now_ we know."
The drill habit had been too strong for those two fugitives even after
The other night our Babe, as Orderly Officer, sat up alone in the
Mess, consuming other people's cigarettes and whisky until midnight,
then, being knocked up by the Orderly Sergeant, gave the worthy fellow
a tot to restore circulation, pulled on his gum-boots and sallied
forth on the rounds. By 12.45 he had assured himself that the line
guards were functioning in the prescribed "brisk and soldierly
manner," and that the horses were all properly tucked up in bed, and
so turned for home.
He paused at the cross-roads to hear the end of the Sergeant's
reminiscences of happy days when he, the Sergeant, (then full-private,
full in more senses than one) had held the responsible position of
beer-taster to a regiment at Jaipurbad ("an ideal drinkin' climate,
Sir"), then, dismissing the old connoisseur, continued on his way
It must have been one o'clock by then, a black wind-noisy night. As
the Babe turned into the home straight, he saw a light flash for an
instant in a big cart-shed opposite the Mess--just a flicker as of a
match scratched and instantly extinguished.
This struck him as curious; it was no weather or hour for decent folk
to be abroad. The Babe then remembered that the mess-cart was in the
shed, and it occurred to him that somebody might be monkeying with the
harness. He thereupon marched straight for the shed (treading quite
noiselessly in his gum-boots) and, pulling out his electric torch,
flashed it, not on some cringing Picard peasant, as he had expected,
but on three unshorn, unwashed, villainous, whopping big Bosch
infantrymen! It would be difficult to say who was the most staggered
for the moment, the Huns blinking in the sudden glare of the torch
or the Babe well aware that he was up against a trio of escaped and
probably quite desperate prisoners of war. "Victory," says M. HILAIRE
BELLOC (or was it NAPOLEON? I am always getting them mixed) "is to him
who can bring the greatest force to bear on a given position." That
is as may be, but, after personal participation in one or two of
the major disputes in the late lamented war, I put it this way. Two
opposing factions bump, utter chaos reigns supreme and the side which
recovers first wins. In this case the Babe was the first to recover. A
year before the War he found himself in a seminary in the suburbs of
Berlin, learning to cough his vowels, roll his r's and utter German
phonetically. Potsdam was near at hand, and many a pleasant hour did
the Babe spend on a bench outside the old Stadt Palast, watching young
recruits of the Prussian Guard having their souls painfully extracted
from them by _Feldwebels_ of great muzzle velocity and booting force.
The sight of those three Hun uniforms standing before him must have
pricked a memory, which in turn set some sub-conscious mechanism to
work, for suddenly the Babe heard a voice bawling orders in German. It
was fully five seconds, he swears, before he recognised it as his own.
"Attention!" snarled the voice in proper Potsdammer style. "Quick
march! Right wheel!" The three great hooligans trembled all over,
clicked their heels and stepped off the mark as punctiliously as
though on the Tempelhofer Feld at the Spring Parade.
In two minutes the Babe, snarling like a Zoo tiger at dinner-time,
had manoeuvred them across a hundred yards of bog and filed them,
goose-stepping, into a Nissen Hut full of sleeping Atkinses. The
Atkinses rolled, gaping, off their beds at the Babe's first shout, and
the game was up.
Ten minutes later the Bosch gentlemen were _en route_ for the main
guard under strong, if _deshabille_, escort.
It turned out that one of them spoke English quite badly and on
reaching the Guard Room he opened out.
They had escaped from a prison camp at Abbeville, he said, and were
heading for Holland, travelling by night.
Passing the farm at about midnight they espied our hooded mess-cart
and, feeling tired and footsore, had conceived the bright idea of
stealing a horse to fit the cart and driving to Holland in style and
comfort. Just as they were getting things shipshape along came the
Babe and clapped the lid on--"_verfluchte kleine Teufel_!"
When the Main Guard lads inquired how it was that after all their
trouble they had allowed one lone unarmed infant to corral the three
of them, instead of quietly biffing him on the head, as they quite
easily might have done, the Huns were very confused. At one moment
they were in the shed, they said, fascinated like moths in the glare
of the torch, and the next thing they knew they were in the midst of a
horde of underclothed Tommies--trapped. As to what had happened in the
interval, or how they had been spirited from one place to the other,
they were not in the least clear--couldn't explain it at all.
The Drill Habit again.
* * * * *
"The Consecrating Officers were elected Honorary Members of the
Lodge and were presented with a souvenir in the form of a solid
silver cigar ash-tray, made from the lead used in the production
of shrapnel bullets."
* * * * *
"Several persons dropped to the pavement, several dripping with
blood. One man had his head partially opened, and he lay writing
on the ground."--_Provincial Paper_.
If the poor fellow was, as we presume, a reporter, we cannot too much
applaud his devotion to duty.
* * * * *
[Illustration: NEWS FROM THE SHIRES.
_Customer_. "WELL, JARVIS, WHAT'S THE LATEST?"
_Farrier_. "I HEAR AS HOW THAT ADMIRAL BEATTY IS LIKELY TO BECOME A
_Customer_. "HOW DO YOU MEAN?"
_Farrier_. "WHY, I HEAR SOME TALK OF HIM BEING MASTER OF THE QUORN."]
* * * * *
The Colonel was, as usual, laying down the law.
"Economy!" he said with a snort; "economy's dead. No one cares about
saving money any more. No one cares about the value of money. We
are asked excessive prices and we pay them. We eat, drink and are
merry--or approximately so--and be hanged to you! With the exception
of the halfpenny stamp we put on circulars I can think of nothing that
has not gone up or, in other words, lost buying power. I defy anyone
to name a thing that hasn't."
He glowered fiercely and challengingly around.
"I repeat," he said, "that the purchasing power of money is not what
it was in any respect. The other day, for instance, I bought a new
hat. I used to pay a guinea; it is now thirty-two and six. And a worse
hat probably. What do you think I was charged for soling and heeling
shoes? One pound ten! And worse leather. That's partly what I mean
by the loss of purchasing power; where the price may in some
extraordinary way remain the same, the quality of the article paid for
is inferior. There's a steady deterioration. Can anyone name a case
where I am wrong?"
His red eyes again defied us.
"Yes, I can," said a meek voice.
The Colonel subjected the speaker to a long and ferocious scrutiny.
"You can'?" he said at last.
"Yes," replied the meek voice. "Will you bet on it?"
"Bet on it? Most certainly I will," said the Colonel, who has done
fairly well in wagers in his time. "How much?"
"What you like," replied the meek voice.
"Very well," said the Colonel, "make it a tenner."
"With pleasure," was the rejoinder. "The bet is that I can't name a
single thing which has not either increased in price or decreased in
quality since the War?"
"Yes," said the Colonel.
We all sat up and waited, as though for the maroons in the old, old
"Well," said the meek voice, "the cost of pulling a communication cord
is I still five pounds, and you can have just as good a pull as ever."
* * * * *
ON THE SAFE SIDE.
"Why, what's this, Ben, they're telling me?--
Eighty and going to get a wife!
Gaffer, I thought you'd surely be
A snug old bachelor for life."
"Well, Sur, ye see I allus meant
To take ole Martha some fine day;
But 'wed in haste and then repent'
I heer'd as many folks did say.
"But now, thinks I, there's sure no fear
Through too much haste o' goin' wrong;
"An', anyways, at eighty year
I can't repent fur wery long."
* * * * *
THE GREATEST PATRIOT OF ALL: A public servant who did not strike
during the War--Big Ben.
* * * * *
[Illustration: EFFECT ON BALLROOM IF, OWING TO THE STRIKE MANIA, THE
MUSICIANS WERE SUDDENLY TO "DOWN INSTRUMENTS."]
* * * * *
They tell me there is work for most,
However tired they be,
That there are Offices engrossed
In finding me a well-paid post
Of suitable degree;
That there are businesses that itch
To make the young lieutenant rich,
Yet I have not discovered which
Is itching after me.
And this is strange; for I could shine
In any place you please,
Although, if there is any line
Which is most obviously mine,
It is the man of ease--
The man whose intellect is such
He never has to labour much,
But does the literary touch
In comfort at "The Leas."
Or I could be a splendid Squire
And watch the harvest grow,
Could urge the reaper to perspire
And put the cattle in the byre
(If that is where they go),
And every morning do the rounds
Of my immense ancestral grounds
With six or seven faithful hounds,
And say, "It looks like snow."
And there are moments when I feel
The diplomatic call;
No trickery would long conceal
The state of things at Bubazeel
When I was at the Ball,
To spy across the "brilliant floors"
On daughters of Ambassadors,
And "obviate" impending wars
By dancing with them all.
A bishopric I can't afford,
Though I could give it tone,
And often when the people snored
I've felt they would not be so bored
By sermons of my own;
But if the Secretaries cry
For secretaries--here am I;
Or nobly would I occupy
The taxi-driver's throne.
For I should beam across the street
When people waved at me,
And say, "My petrol's incomplete,
I haven't had my bit of meat
Nor yet my bit of tea,
But just because I like your face
I'll take you out to any place
However distant from my base--
And ask no extra fee."
And yet I doubt could England bear
To see my rest destroyed?
A soul so delicate and fair
Should simply saunter through the air
And cultivate the void;
One would not readily degrade
One's loveliness in _any_ trade,
Only, of course, one must be paid
For being unemployed.
A. P. H.
* * * * *
SMITH MINOR PROFFERS A REQUEST.
_(An authentic document_.)
Will you please send me a fountain pen because nearly every boy but me
has a fountain pen and I should so like to have one because I often
want to write something outside and I carn't and then when I come in I
don't no what it is and I miss something out of my letter then when I
have writen my letter I remember what it was and genulry I remember it
in lesons and when I begin to write my next letter I have for goten
it and it goes on like that till at last I remember it and then some
times I don't rember it all and that is why I want a fontin pen.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "DRY" HUMOUR.
PRESIDENT WILSON. "OUR FUTURE LIES UPON THE WATER!"
BRITANNIA. "ALLUDING, I PRESUME, TO YOUR PROHIBITION MOVEMENT?"]
* * * * *
[Illustration: ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
MR. LOWTHER TAKES THE CHAIR FOR "POSITIVELY THE LAST TIME." HIS
ENTHUSIASTIC PROPOSER AND SECONDER (COLONEL MILDMAY AND SIR HENRY
DALZIEL), BITTEN BY THE POPULAR CRAZE, PUT A BIT OF "JAZZ" INTO THE
_Tuesday, February 4th_.--There is much virtue in horsehair. Few who
attended the informal opening of the Third Parliament of KING GEORGE
THE FIFTH would have guessed that under the full-bottomed wig and
gorgeous black-and-gold robes of the dignified figure on the Woolsack
lay the volatile personality of "F. E." He played his new part nobly.
A trifling error in the setting of his three-cornered hat, whose
rakish cock was for the moment reminiscent of the "Galloper," was
quickly corrected on the advice of one of the Lords Commissioners at
his side; and by the time the faithful Commons were admitted to hear
the Commission read there was nothing to differentiate Lord BIRKENHEAD
(as he had now become) from any previous occupant of his exalted
position. Nor was there any lack of dignity in his delivery of the
instructions to the Commons to "proceed to the choice of some proper
person to be your Speaker"--though I fancy that when he bade them
"repair to the place where you are to sit" he must have been tempted
to add the words, "provided that you can find room there."
For the Lower House, when we returned there, was a seething mass of
humanity. How many of the 707 duly elected Members were present I know
not; but there were enough to swamp the floor and surge over into the
Galleries. Seeing that the "Tubes" were closed and taxis few and far
between, some of them were obliged to resort to unusual methods of
locomotion. Sir HENRY NORMAN surprised the police in Palace Yard by
arriving on a motor-scooter, and there is an unconfirmed rumour
that the Editor of _John Bull_ made his _rentree_ to the House in a
flying-boat drawn by four _canards sauvages._ Anyhow, there they were,
so thick and slab that Mr. DE VALERA, who was reported to have escaped
from durance vile with the intention of presenting himself at the
House and creating a disturbance, would have found it impossible to
gain entry unless preceded by a charge of gelignite. As it was, none
of the Sinn Feiners was present, nor indeed any representative of
Irish Nationalism at all, and the proceedings were as orderly as a
Not that they were by any means dull. For both Colonel MILDMAY, who
proposed, and Sir HENRY DALZIEL, who seconded, the re-election of Mr.
LOWTHER as Speaker, spiced their compliments with humour. The former
was confident that even if Woman appeared on the floor of the House
the SPEAKER-ELECT'S "consummate tact" would be equal to coping with
her artfullest endeavours to get round the rules of procedure; while
the latter attributed his priceless gift of humour to "Scottish
ancestry on the mother's side."
Horsehair again! I hardly recognised in the quietly-dressed Member who
rose from the Bench behind Ministers to acknowledge these encomiums
the man whose awe-inspiring appearance (when clothed in wig and gown)
has quelled so many storms in the last four Parliaments. Let us hope
that the fifth, of which, being the outcome of his famous Conference,
he may in a sense be described as the "onlie begetter," will not
disgrace its parentage.
Already there are elements of difficulty. Through the non-return of
Mr. ASQUITH the Opposition has lost its head literally and is in some
danger of losing it figuratively, for the remnant of the un-"couponed"
Liberals and the Labour Party are at present acutely divided on the
question upon whom the lost Leader's mantle should fall. Today Sir
DONALD MACLEAN, as senior Privy Councillor, took the _pas_ and was
able from personal experience to give his conception of the ideal
Speaker, who "must not only have good vision but be sometimes quite
blind; not only have acute hearing but occasionally be almost
stone-deaf." Fortunately the SPEAKER-ELECT can assume these physical
defects at will; for, despite its quiet opening, I doubt if the
new Parliament when it gets to work will prove precisely a Lowther
_Wednesday, February 5th_.--To the Lords again, where the
SPEAKER-ELECT, attired in Court dress and accompanied by the
SERGEANT-AT-ARMS dandling the Mace as if it ware a refractory infant,
presented himself at the Bar to hear from the LORD CHANCELLOR the
pleasing intelligence that HIS MAJESTY was convinced of his "ample
sufficiency" to execute his arduous duties, and readily approved his
election. Thereupon Sir COLIN KEPPEL swung the Mace on to his shoulder
and escorted the SPEAKER, now confirmed in his rank, back to the
There was an unusual rush of Members to take the oath. This was not
entirely due to the new Members, naturally desirous of completing
their initiatory rites, but was shared by many of the older hands, for
the good and sufficient reason that, until a Member is certified as
having been duly sworn, he cannot recover his one hundred and fifty
pounds deposit from the Returning Officer. In their zeal to be in a
position to reimburse themselves Members crowded in such numbers to
the tables that there was some danger that they would be overturned.
As one of our Latinists remarked, "It looks as if we should have
_novae res_ outside and _novae tabulae_ inside."
_Thursday, February 6th._--The process, once immortalized by a Lords'
reporter in the sentence, "A few Bishops looked in, swore, and went
away again," went on in both Houses; but in the Commons in a more
orderly fashion than yesterday. For the SPEAKER, ever ready, as he
said on his election, "to carry out the old rules in a modern
spirit," directed the waiting Members to form up in line. One of the
Coalitionists evinced a little surprise. He had always understood that
when coupons were issued queues were superfluous.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Donald (who a short time before had put the bottle in
the cupboard "for another day" breaking long silence)._ "SAXPENCE FOR
YOUR THOUGHTS, SANDY."
_Sandy._ "WEEL, I'M THENKIN' IT'S JEST TWA MEENITS SEN THE CLOCK STRUCK
TWELVE--AN' IT'LL BE ANITHER DAY."
* * * * *
"Wanted a Certificated (Resilient) Lady Teacher for Std.
V."--_Times of India_.
* * * * *
(_Being some extracts from the daily Press of, say, 1925)._
.... The bi-monthly strike of Clyde workers took place yesterday. The
proceedings were quite orderly. The matter in dispute this time is a
very simple affair. The men, who are now working on a full half-hour a
week basis at one hundred and sixty-eight hours' pay, with three snap
meal-times of ten minutes each per day, are not pressing for any
alteration in pay or hours, but demand the dismissal of Mr. John
Smith, the managing director of one of the large shipbuilding yards,
who rudely refused to fetch a pint of beer for one of the rivetters.
The Government department dealing with strike questions is full up for
three months yet, but hopes are entertained that, unless a critical
by-election should intervene, it will be possible to deal with the
matter at the expiration of that period.
.... Much interest was aroused last evening by the production of a new
musical show, both the book and music of which have been written by
natives of this country. A strong protest has been lodged by the
United States Embassy.
.... A passenger on one of the Tube railways alleges that he entered a
train at Oxford Circus Station last evening. No confirmation is as yet
forthcoming, and the rumour must be treated with reserve.
.... The Peace Conference held a sitting yesterday and definitely
decided that the ex-Kaiser should be tried one of these days. It is
confidently stated in the inner circles of Paris that peace will
inevitably be concluded within the next ten or twelve years.
.... Dancing still holds its own as the principal amusement of the
bulk of the population. The latest dance, the Guzz-Jinx, which is
danced on the hands with the right foot placed in the mouth of one's
partner, is stated to be very graceful indeed. The correct music is
provided by a band performing entirely on hair-combs and tea-trays.
.... A reduction is promised in the price of tobacco shortly. An ounce
recently changed hands at a well-known Piccadilly shop at two hundred
and seven pounds, but the new season's prices are not expected to be
much above one hundred and fifty pounds.
A man was charged at Bow Street yesterday with endeavouring to ride
in a motor-bus on Tuesday, the 12th of the month, when his permit was
only for Thursday, the 15th of each month. He was severely cautioned
and ordered to get a new calendar.
* * * * *
[Illustration: BEFORE THE COMBAT.
_Excited Duellist._ "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
_Nervous Opponent._ "I'M PUTTING MAGIC DROPS ON MY SWORD, WHICH WILL
MAKE IT IRRESISTIBLE."
_Excited Duellist._ "BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR TO ME."
_Nervous Opponent (relieved)._ "ALL RIGHT, YOU CAN HAVE SOME AND WE'LL
CALL IT A DRAW."]
* * * * *
Dear Lydia, long before your time,
When I was half the 'teen you own to,
Don Valentine was in his prime,
The world not yet the thing it's grown to.
The postman then with double knocks
This morning many a heart was thrilling,
And brought a shining cardboard box
With round red hearts in paper frilling.
A simpler world, and well content
With what seems small by modern measure;
And winters came and roses went,
Yet Time dulls pain as well as pleasure.
Though, with this fashion out of date,
His hand to-day weighs almost lightly
If this my war-time chocolate
Makes two dark eyes to shine more brightly.
* * * * *
HINTS FOR THE GARDEN.
To those who are about to re-establish their herbaceous borders it
will come as a welcome surprise that restrictions as to the sale of
the following foodstuffs by nurserymen have now been withdrawn:--
Stucky's _Germania_ (Lamb's Ear).
_Scolopendrium_ (Hart's Tongue).
No coupons will be required for these in future.
_Fatsia Horrida._--This is no longer grown by nurserymen, but can be
obtained at any butcher's, large quantities having recently arrived
from Greece. Smith minor, possibly a prejudiced witness, says he gets
it at school; that it is beastly and only another name for Cod Liver
_Sambucus_ (the Elder).--A correspondent inquires if anything is
known of the younger branch of this family. On being appealed to
the Secretary of the Linnaean Society sent the following somewhat
enigmatic telegram: "Recommend CLEMENCEAU non-Papa, who may know
something of Uncle Sam."
_Hydrangea._--This hardy shrub is so called as it was originally
raised by the Ranger of Hyde Park. The American variety "radiata"
succeeds well indoors if grown on hot-water pipes.
_Pirus._--There are several varieties of this species. The best known,
however, comes from Cornwall and was raised by the late Sir W.S.
GILBERT, who introduced the Savoy cabbage. It is called the _Pirus of
* * * * *
[It is said that demobilised officers, anxious to dance, are
finding it almost impossible to buy dress-shirts and evening
Now that I've been demobilised
I'm going again to dances--
I do not care with whom or where,
I'm taking any chances.
And evening dress, I've been advised,
Will never become transitional;
Yet once or twice I've been surprised
To find my khaki pals disguised
In new dress suits and old trench boots,
Which scarcely seems traditional.
I met my Colonel at a hop
Jazzing in his goloshes,
With a dress-tie pert on a cricket-shirt
That had shrunk in various washes;
And my Major was doing the Donkey-Drop
Between a couple of rippers--
Yet his pink-and-white pyjama-top
If anything seemed a shade _de trop_,
And his faultless coat hardly echoed the note
Of his worsted bedroom slippers.
But the world long since went off its chump,
And the cry of the man from France is,
"I simply refuse to let shirts and shoes
Prevent me from going to dances.
I'll take the shine out of collar and pump,
And their wearers _will_ look silly
When I once begin the Giraffe-Galump,
The Chicken-Run and the Jaguar-Jump,
The Wombat-Walk and the Buffalo-Bump,
With a chamois vest on my manly chest,
And football-boots and the smartest of suits
They can cut in Piccadilly."
* * * * *
THE GRAND TRUNK LINE.
"The following are some alternative routes which could be used by
people going home this evening from the City or West End:--
"Clapham Common.--By Elephant, trams and 'buses."--_Evening News_.
I ran upstairs after lunch to-day to see old Harris. He has the
flat over mine, you know. In addition to this Harris is an author.
Sometimes he even gets money for it.
"Doin' a bit of work to-day, Harris?" I remarked casually.
"I'm doing a little flying story," he informed me with dignity.
"Oh, yes," I agreed carelessly, then woke up and stared hard.
"Flying?" I repeated. "But what the--I mean, what do you know about
Brutality is the only thing with Harris. He was very hurt. He gasped
and glared at me in a most annoyed manner.
"I know a pretty good lot," he announced with some asperity. "I've
talked to dozens of pilots about it and I've read books on flying--and
"And don't forget you once passed Hendon in the train too, old son,"
I soothed him. "I'd no idea you were so well up in it. Sorry I spoke.
Let's see it; may I?"
Harris picked up a couple of sheets of paper from the desk and,
coughing imposingly, proceeded to read out his masterpiece:--
"Lionel Marchant came slowly out of the hangar, drawing on his long
fur gloves and studying his maps with an intent and keen face.
"His machine, a single-seater scout of the latest type, was just being
wheeled out and now stood glistening in the bright autumn sunshine,
which danced on the shining brasswork and threw deep shadows on the
"The airman swung lightly into his seat; a final word or two with his
commanding officer and he flung over the levers and gave a sharp turn
to the starting handle.
"The powerful engine in front of him woke into life deafeningly and,
waving away the mechanics holding the wings, he pressed the clutch
pedal and moved slowly forward.
"His face is very grim and determined--he throws across another lever
and the low hum of the motor changes into a deep-throated roar.
Gathering speed, he goes faster and faster--now he is in the air--now
a little speck in the sky, heading for the enemy's lines--"
"Oh, no, please," I broke in feebly. "I can't stand any more just now.
You're not seriously thinking of having this published, are you?"
As in a dream I took the manuscript from his fingers and gazed blankly
at it whilst his indignant flow of speech passed harmlessly over my
"But, Harris," I said at length, with infinite compassion in my voice,
"Harris, I love you as a brother, but this really is awful--why--well,
"'As the second German machine came down on them in a steep dive
Lionel gave a hasty glance behind him, where the huge engine raced
madly, and shouted excitedly to his observer.
"'The latter, swinging the machine gun round sharply, took rapid aim
and pressed the trigger--'"
"Well?" demanded the author icily.
"No, it's too frightful," I bleated. "Harris, this _might_ conceivably
be read by a real pilot. Heaven forbid, of course! And he'd simply
hate this scout 'bus with the engine ahead to change into a 'pusher'
two-seater in six paragraphs."
Harris was routed, absolutely demoralised. "They told me to put in
lots of flying talk," he murmured abjectly, "and tons of local colour
to make it lifelike."
"Yes," I said grimly, "but this colour's too local for words."
"Of course, if you think you could do it better yourself," Harris
observed with heavy sarcasm, "well, then--"
"Certainly," I agreed heartily. "I don't mind showing _you_, Harris,
seeing you're a pal of mine. Just pass the ink and let your uncle get
Behold my effort!--
"'Orderly, what about tea?'
"'Very nearly ready, Sir.'
"'Right. Then I think a small piece of toast is indicated;' and he
proceeded to hack the loaf to pieces with great vigour.
"'Hun over somewhere, sounds like,' said a sleepy voice as the throb
of an engine was heard overhead.
"'Oh, I can't help his troubles,' observed the toast-maker airily.
'He's got no right to come at tea-time. In about half-an-hour or so I
might think about--'
"Here the telephone bell rang.
"'Now that's a splendid joke,' said his unfeeling friend as he laid
down the receiver. 'You've got to go up after that chap. They're
getting your 'bus out now, so--'
"'What!' came in disgusted tones from the fireside. 'Don't be so dam
funny. What do you mean?'
"'Not ragging, really, Bill. The C.O. said he wanted you to have a
shot at that fellow. Run like a hare. You may catch him up over Berlin
somewhere. I'll eat your toast for you.'
"'Oh, will you?' grunted the other. 'What awful rot it is! Oh, the
devil--where's my hat?' and out he plunged.
"Two minutes later he was struggling into a heavy leather coat and,
feeling thoroughly ill-used, climbed into his machine.
"The propeller was swung, emitting one hollow cough.
"'Switch off. All right, contact.'
"At the third attempt the engine remembered its manners and started up
with a jerk. A few moments to get her running smoothly, a rapid test
to see that she was 'giving her revs.' and the chocks, were waved away
from the wheels.
"Within twenty yards he was off the ground and, throttle wide open,
climbing towards the little white dot thousands of feet above.
"And all the time he was grumbling.
"'What awful rot it is! I've about as much chance of reaching the
blighter as ... Running my engine to bits as it is ... May be able to
cut him off when he's dropped his eggs.'
"Which is precisely what happened. The last gift had been thankfully
received in a ploughed field beneath and the Hun was turning for home
when the scout struggled to his level.
"The watchers on the ground saw the small machine press determinedly
towards the bigger and a faint crackle of gun-fire broke out.
"It was answered by all the guns on board the enemy craft and the
single-seater wavered undecidedly.
"Then he got his adversary fairly in his ring sight again and' risking
everything, fired burst after burst.
"All at once the big machine heeled over and dived--a flash and a
sudden sheet of flame from the engine and down dropped the raider, to
dash to pieces in the French fields three miles below.
"Ten minutes later the British machine slithered on to the ground and
switched off in front of the sheds.
"'By Jove, Bill,' said his friend, rushing up excitedly, 'that was the
"'Not so much of it,' interposed the 'hero,' scrambling out of his
seat. 'What about my tea? Did you look after my toast for me? No,
might have known you wouldn't.'"
* * * * *
WHAT OUR POETS HAVE TO PUT UP WITH.
"They who faced the terrors of the deep, Who guarded our
snores-while we were asleep."
* * * * *
"Though his career was entirely that of a public servant, he had
personality and that self-evident efficiency which mark a man out
That "though" is rather cynical.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "I SAY, TAXI, I'VE ONLY GOT ENOUGH CHANGE TO PAY THE
EXACT FARE. D'YOU MIND TAKING A CHEQUE FOR THE TIP?"]
* * * * *
[Discussing the unruliness of modern children, a correspondent
in the Press suggests that parents might exchange offspring for
Hector, one thought alone forbade
Your stout progenitor to squirm
Through all the months the Huns essayed
To pink his epiderm--
The thought that you, through what he'd done,
Might find a better world, my son.
Now must you do your bit for me,
For, guided by the sage's lore,
I mean to barter progeny
With Brown, the man next door,
And educate in place of you
Bertram, his brazen-lunged Yahoo.
Too long, too long have I been banned
From giving what he's been denied,
The checkings of a chiding hand,
But now he's going to get it, Hec
(Though not exactly in the neck).
Exile from your ancestral hut
At first may fill your soul with pain;
If so, this filial thought should cut
Your tears off at the main:
The hours he spends across my knee
Will mean a better world for me.
* * * * *
IT HAPPENED IN IRELAND.
"Mr. ---- held that purchased meat would be better than that
supplied by contractors, who were not saints. He knew of one
case where cattle were actually killed after they died."--_Irish
"The following has been issued by the Sinn Fein Executive:--
"At the weekly meeting of the Executive it was unanimously
decided to appeal to the subscribers to the Mansion House
Anti-Subscription Fund."--_Irish Times_.
* * * * *
"This enabled him [Mr. Bottomley] to provide a sum sufficient to
yap the other shareholders 12. in the pound."--_Evening Paper_.
We always thought him a bit of a dog.
* * * * *
THE BLANKET ASTRAY.
Now that most of us are on the point of escaping into civil life, the
relentless department to whom the W.O. entrusted the stewardship of
Army blankets is calling us to strict account as to our dealings with
Between us and freedom rise the accusing phantoms of blankets we
signed for and failed to return, blankets we misused as carpets,
curtains and table-cloths. The bright dawn of the new era is overcast
by their threatening shadow.
The A.A.L.R.B.G.S.--Acting-Assistant Local Recorder of Blankets
General Service, a very important Hat indeed--some time last winter
paid us a visit and went away without complaint. We had specialised
in cherishing Blankets G.S. For fear of loss or damage none had been
issued for use, and the enthusiasm of all ranks was so warm that the
men were glad to sleep without them, if only they might go and see
for themselves the full tally of blankets folded correctly to a
hair's-breadth and piled irreproachably and unapproachably in the
Then, three days ago, arrived a chit asking us to explain a curt
quotation from the report of the A.A.L.R.B.G.S., to the effect that
"_There was a blanket on the table
in the store_."
By a civilian this might be interpreted as a word of praise for our
care of the table or for the comfortable _tout ensemble_ of the
Quartermaster-Sergeant's treasure-house; but we know better. We read
it with the sensations of a householder who, after the call of a
Scotland Yard official, should be invited to explain, in an otherwise
satisfactory account of his visit, the sentence--
"_There was a corpse in the boot
It suggested criticism, suspicion, disapproval. In his dilemma the
O.C. replied as follows:--
"Owing to the fact that, in view of the paper scarcity, the keeping
of Individual History Sheets for the Blankets under my command was
discontinued early in the War, I have found it difficult to collect
evidence. I beg, however, to submit the likeliest explanations that
"(1) Possibly the blanket was placed on the table, folded and
compressed beneath the weight of the various utensils, literature and
stationery necessary to the functioning of a B.Q.M.S., in order
that the correct regimental wrinkles, as laid down in the various
handbooks, might be made and maintained; the blanket to be used as a
model at lectures to young soldiers on the care of equipment.
"(2) The distance between the Main Blanket Dump and the table under
suspicion is only four feet. It is in the experience of all familiar
with conditions in the Field that blankets with long service
frequently develop extreme activity. I beg to suggest that the blanket
in question may have absented itself without leave from the main dump
and proceeded as far as the table by its own locomotive power.
"(3) About the date of the inspection the name of an N.C.O. was
submitted with a recommendation for the O.B.E., but was withdrawn on
compassionate grounds. I cannot trust my memory, but possibly the
justification of this recommendation was the N.C.O.'s zealous care of
the property of H.M. THE KING, in that he sacrificed his own blanket
for the welfare of the table." (On paper, of course, our blankets are
issued in the normal way.) "The weather at the time was inclement,
either (_a_) wet and dirty or (_b_) extremely cold. The N.C.O. was
determined that this table should be protected from the deleterious
effects of (_a_) moisture likely to result from the vicinity of the
Q.M.S., damp from out-door duties or (_b_) very low temperature, which
is known to injure such articles of furniture.
"(4) The blanket may have been known to be likely to try to escape
from custody, and have been placed conspicuously on the table so as to
be directly under the observation of the Q.M.S.
"(5) The table may have intended illegally to absent itself without
leave, and have concealed itself beneath the accused blanket in the
hope of eluding the vigilance of the sentries, disguised as a civilian
table, i.e. covered with a table-cloth. This theory is unlikely, the
table bearing an excellent character and never having been known to
attempt desertion or be in any way guilty of conduct contrary to good
order and military discipline.
"(6) The Storeman--now demobilised and dispersed--may have committed
the irregularity suggested, with the idea of increasing the amenity
of the stores during the inspection, as a humble compliment to the
"(7) No. 55,442, Procter, Mary, a member of the Q.M.A.A.C., may be
correct in her statement that the article described as a 'blanket' was
not a blanket, but a rug, travelling. She says she is 'in a position
to know this,' as the article is her own property, and supports the
claim by demonstrating the presence of her initials embroidered across
"I await your reply." And so we all do.
* * * * *
Here's a lady come to town
Puts us all to shame;
Walking in with noiseless feet,
Very light and very fleet,
Over-night she came.
Not a beauty in the land,
Though she knew no peer
Both for comeliness and grace,
But must take a second place--
The snow is here.
Never monarch wore, I swear,
Such a radiant dress;
All the whitenesses we prize
Suddenly before our eyes
Turn to dinginess.
Gone are all the shining joys
That we held so dear;
Linens, marbles, gleaming plumes
We must hide in shadowed glooms--
The snow is here.
Veil your brows, you pretty maids,
With your falling curls;
Should you venture forth to-day
Tuck your milky throats away,
Cover up your pearls.
Naught shall match your loveliness
Later in the year
(Who so foolish as to dare
Say the lily is more fair?)
But--the snow is here.
* * * * *
A MASTER OF GROTESQUE.
The Leicester Galleries for laughter just now! For the walls of the
inner room are hung with drawings by Mr. H.M. BATEMAN, not a few of
which--such as "The Leave Wangler," and "The Man who Clung to the
Railings," and "The Infectious Hornpipe"--have already rejoiced the
readers of _Punch_.
Mr. BATEMAN'S appeal is double, for, having enjoyed his broad or
subtle farce and his keen satirical observations, one may turn to the
admiration of his technique, or _vice versa*_. He did not invent the
idea of the humorous sequence--the accumulative pictorial comedy;
CARAN D'ACHE had come before, and before CARAN D'ACHE was WILHELM
BUSCH, the German; but he has made it his own to-day. Some of his
series are irresistible. As a delineator of types, accurate beneath
the caricature, he is deadly; particularly, perhaps, when he turns his
attention to the Senior Service. But his Brigadiers and his Clubmen
are also always within an ace of being identifiable.
For anyone in the dumps Mr. Punch prescribes a speedy visit to the
* * * * *
OUR PLUTOCRATIC CLERGY.
"Curate wanted. L22. 2 churches. E.P."
[Illustration: _Mabel (to newly-married sister)._ "YOU DON'T MIND ME
STILL CALLING YOU 'SYBIL,' DO YOU?"]
* * * * *
_(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)_
MR. JOHN GALSWORTHY is a most deceptive writer. He lures a reader on
by a display of gentleness and smoothness and moderation, and then
turns on him and makes it plain that he is really a most provocative
fellow and is engaged in matching his mind against yours. He tries
to commit you to some such statement as this: "The allegiance of the
workman in time of peace is not rendered to the State, but to himself
and his own class." Or this: "I think editors, journalists, old
gentlemen and women will be brutalised [by the War] in larger numbers
than our soldiers." Or this: "This is at once a spiritual link with
America and yet one of the great barriers to friendship between
the two peoples. We are not sure whether we are better men than
Americans." Or this: "My mind is open, and when one says that, one
generally means that it is shut." Disconcerting, very, and all to be
found in _Another Sheaf_ (HEINEMANN). Mr. GALSWORTHY'S chief object in
his little book is to arouse us to the disgrace and destruction of our
State and race if we continue to allow ourselves to be fed, not by our
own resources, but by alien corn and meat, which may so easily become
hostile corn and meat. Incidentally Mr. GALSWORTHY finds that we are
in the mass far too ugly. For instance, how few of us have chiselled
nostrils! We ought not to eat so much pure white flour.
* * * * *
On the second page of _The Secret City_ (MACMILLAN) Mr. HUGH WALPOLE
(or, to be meticulously correct, _Durward_, into whose mouth the story
is put) says that "there is no Russian alive for whom this book can
have any kind of value except as a happy example of the mistakes that
the Englishman can make about the Russian." Well, after finishing the
book, which is in some ways a sequel to _The Dark Forest_, I felt so
very disinclined to believe this statement that I consulted a Russian,
who is very much alive, and received the opinion that, if Mr. WALPOLE
has not succeeded in drawing the real average Russian, he has given us
a type whose faults and virtues sound the keynote of the situation as
it is to-day. Such an opinion is worth a thousand times more than any
judgment of mine, and I am glad of the opportunity to record it. From
a literary point of view it seems to me that Mr. WALPOLE, in allowing
_Durward_ to tell the tale, has created innumerable difficulties for
himself--difficulties which to a great extent have been cleverly
overcome, but which nevertheless make the story wobble dangerously
and once or twice threaten it with devastation. To me, however, the
interest never really flagged, for granted that one has a sympathy
with Russia one feels acutely what Mr. WALPOLE is aiming at and how
wonderfully he succeeds. It is not difficult to find faults: to
complain, for instance, that a strong man like _Semyonov_ would not
have taken such elaborate measures to get himself killed; but these
points are trivial in a book which is not to be read so much for its
story as for its idea. And the idea is great.
* * * * *
_Rollo Johnson_ was incautious enough to be born the natural son of a
peer. This fact caused just sufficient complications to keep MARY L.
PENDERED'S latest story, _The Silent Battlefield_ (CHAPMAN AND HALL),
from any threat of stagnation while she was developing the theme that
really intrigued her. This was the struggle between increasing wealth
and early-acquired Socialism as it arose in the mind of a hero working
his way up from poverty to millionairedom, a seat in the House and the
opportunity of hobnobbing with lords, suffragettes and other notables.
When I say that the two sides of the Socialist case are presented with
rather uncommon fairness you may think that is only because my own
particular creed is upheld; but really and truly I was frowning quite
as much as purring while the silent battle proceeded, and the end is
neutral enough to bring despair to all true believers. Lest you should
suppose the book all made up of election addresses I hasten to add
that, in the quiet and thoughtful way one expects of the author, the
story is a good one, the pictures of a small country town are true to
life, and the characters without exception real creatures of flesh
and blood. Remembering the puppets that so often have been made to
represent their country in a political novel, this is saying more than
a little, and if it is true that, among the ladies of the cast, one
still finds those the most attractive who have no pronounced opinions
to speak or vote about, no doubt this is just old prejudice, and,
anyway, the book is one that can be heartily commended.
* * * * *
The scene of _In Happy Valley_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is laid
spiritually, if not strictly geographically, in that part of the
continent of America which everybody who has gone to a cinema, hoping
against hope, knows so well. I mean the country where people have
"shooting irons" and use them on the slightest provocation to insist
that other people shall carry their hands at an absurd and wearisome
elevation, and all the men wear fringy trousers, and all the women
shawls, save the heroine, who has to be suitably arrayed for the
performance of athletic feats. I admit that I didn't feel quite at
home _In Happy Valley_, because I missed the sheriff and his posse,
and nobody held up the stage-coach; still the young doctor and the
school teacher and the ladies at the mission did their best for me,
and I found it a great help to know the language, an attainment of
which I am justifiably a little vain, for not everyone could translate
at sight to "thud" the road or "shoot up" a Christmas party. Mr. JOHN
FOX, Junr., has not placed his largest strawberries--and some of them
are quite nice ones--at the top of the basket. His first story did not
attract me as much as others further on, such as, for instance, that
excellently humorous one, "The Angel from Viper," though here and in
other places a lady called _St. Hilda_, obviously not she of Whitby,
confused me a little. I fancy that we were supposed to have made her
acquaintance in some previous book. But my real quarrel with Mr. Fox
is that he has only given walking-on parts to the actors who do best
when such tales are told upon the screen--I mean the horses.
* * * * *
When it is granted that books on flying by fliers have at present a
peculiar fascination, the fact still remains that what I will call
The Library of Aviation has usually been remarkably fortunate in its
contributors. _Cavalry of the Air_ (SIMPKIN, MARSHALL) is the last
flying work which it has been my good fortune to read, and the
only conceivable reason for finding fault with it is that "FLIGHT
COMMANDER" occasionally becomes a little facetious. But when that
small complaint is made I have nothing left except praise. The
author was first of all an Observer--or, as he calls it, a "Shock
Absorber"--in France, and he describes his life so that we groundlings
may understand and sympathise with every phase of it. Especially I
like the way in which he pays tribute to the infantry. In the second
part of his book he tells us of his training as a pilot; and here he
gives information which deserves to be most thoroughly studied.
The illustrations by Mr. GEOFFREY WATSON add to the charm of this
attractive volume. Of another contribution to the literature of the
air which lies before me I cannot speak so well. Lieut.-Colonel
CURTIES has an inventive mind, and in _Blake of the R.F.C._
(SKEFFINGTON) he uses it unsparingly. But although I am ready to
believe almost anything in a book of this kind, I am bound to confess
that I found myself bewildered by this breathless romance. Indeed the
pace is so hot at the outset that even the author seems to have lost
control of it. If, however, you are craving for excitement you will
find it here. The scene is laid in Cairo, and we all know that funny
things happen in that city. Not the least funny thing that happened
to the characters in this story was the careless ease with which they
drank whisky-and-soda. But this--let me warn you--happened nearly two
* * * * *
UNIQUE EXPLOIT OF A LADY-VOTER.
"I felt a very proud woman when I walked into the ballot-box, for
the first time, and cast my vote. And it took me 4-1/2 hours to
get there and back."--_Local Paper_.
* * * * *
[Illustration: TRUE POLITENESS. WARMING THE HAND BEFORE GREETING----
----A POOR RELATION ON A COLD DAY.]