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Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 159, 1920-09-01
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 159, 1920-09-01" ***

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VOL. 159.

September 1st, 1920.


A Newcastle miner who was stated to be earning a pound a day has been fined
ten pounds for neglecting his children. The idea of waiting till September
20th and letting Mr. SMILLIE neglect them does not seem to have occurred to

* * *

"Beyond gardening," says a gossip writer, "Mr. SMILLIE has few hobbies." At
the same time there is no doubt he is busy getting together a fine
collection of strikes.

* * *

It is said that AMUNDSEN will not return to civilisation this year. If he
was thinking of Ireland he isn't missing any civilisation worth mentioning.

* * *

"The POET LAUREATE," says a weekly paper, "has not written an ode to
British weather." So that can't be the cause of it.

* * *

A Wolverhampton man weighing seventeen stone, in charging another with
assault, said he heard somebody laughing at him, so he looked round. A man
of that weight naturally would.

* * *

"There is work for everybody who likes to work," says Mr. N. GRATTAN DOYLE,
M.P. It is this tactless way of rubbing it in which annoys so many people.

* * *

A contemporary has a letter from a correspondent who signs himself "Tube
Traveller of Twenty Years' Standing." Somebody ought to offer the poor
fellow a seat.

* * *

In connection with the case of a missing railway-porter one railway line
has decided to issue notices warning travellers against touching porters
while they are in motion.

* * *

"The United States," declares the proprietor of a leading New York hotel,
"is on the eve of going wet again." A subtle move of this kind, with the
object of depriving drink of its present popularity, is said to be making a
strong appeal to the Prohibitionists.

* * *

One London firm is advertising thirty thousand alarum-clocks for sale at
reduced prices. There is now no excuse for any workman being late at a

* * *

A centenarian in the Shetlands, says a news agency, has never heard of Mr.
LLOYD GEORGE. We have no wish to brag, but we have often seen his name

* * *

Professor PETRIE'S statement that the world will only last another two
hundred thousand years is a sorry blow to those who thought that _Chu Chin
Chow_ was in for a long run. Otherwise the news has been received quietly.

* * *

"Nothing useful is ever done in the House of Commons," says a Labour
speaker. He forgets that the cleaners are at work in the building just now.

* * *

We are informed that at the Bricklaying contest at the Olympic Games a
British bricklayer lost easily.

* * *

"A dress designer," says a Camomile Street dressmaker in _The Evening
News_, "must be born." We always think this is an advantage.

* * *

A gossip-writer points out that Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S earliest ambition
was to be an actor. Our contemporary is wise not to disclose the name of
the man who talked him out of it.

* * *

"Whatever price is fixed it is impossible to get stone in any quantity,"
says a building trade journal. They have evidently not heard of our

* * *

"Nothing of any value has been gained by the War," complains a daily paper.
This slur on the O.B.E. is in shocking taste.

* * *

A Sunday newspaper deplores that there seems to be no means of checking the
crime-wave which is still spreading throughout the country. If only the
Government would publish the amount of American bacon recently purchased by
the Prisons' Department things might tend to improve.

* * *

"There is still a great shortage of gold in the country," announces a
weekly paper. It certainly seems as if our profiteers will soon have to be
content with having their teeth stopped with bank-notes.

* * *

We regret to learn that the amateur gardener whose marrows were awarded the
second prize for cooking-apples at a horticultural show is still confined
to his bed.

* * *

A neck-ruffle originally worn by QUEEN ELIZABETH has been stolen from a
house in Manchester and has not yet been recovered. Any reader noticing a
suspicious-looking person wearing such an article over her _décolleté_
should immediately communicate with the nearest police-station.

* * *

Hair tonic, declares the Washington Chief of Police, is growing in
popularity as a beverage. The danger of this habit has been widely
advertised by the sad case of a Chicago man who drank three shampoo
cocktails and afterwards swallowed a hair in his soup.

* * *

The mystery of the City gentleman who has been noticed lately going up to
public telephones and getting immediate answers is now solved. It appears
that he is a well-known ventriloquist with a weakness for practical jokes.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

    "According to the latest census returns, the population of New York
    City is now £5,621,000."--_Indian Paper._

In dollars, of course, it would be considerably more.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The Royal Dutch Mail steamer Stuyvesant will leave on Monday at 5 a.m.
    for Havre and Amsterdam. The tender leaves the Lighthouse Jetty at 8
    a.m. punctually with passengers."--_West Indian Paper._

Rather a mean trick to play on them.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The Chairman said the Council had never paid one penny for the oiling
    and washing of the fire brigade."--_Local Paper._

It is understood that while the noble fellows do not object to washing at
reasonable intervals, they strongly deprecate oiling as unnecessarily
adding to the risks of their dangerous calling.

       *       *       *       *       *


  Shall she, the England unafraid,
    That came by steady courage through
  The toughest war was ever made
    And wiped the earth with WILLIAM TWO
  (Who, though it strikes us now as odd,
  Was, in his way, a sort of little god)--

  Shall she that stood serene and firm,
    Sure of her will to stay and win,
  Cry "Comrade!" on her knees and squirm
    To lesser gods of cheaper tin,
  Spreading herself, a _corpus vile_,
  Under the prancing heels of Mr. SMILLIE?

  Humour forbids! And even they
    Who toil beneath the so-called sun,
  Yet often in an eight-hours' day
    Indulge a quiet sense of fun--
  These too can see, however dim,
  The joke of starving just for SMILLIE'S whim.

  And here I note what looks to be
    A rent in Labour's sacred fane;
  The priestly oracles disagree,
    And, when a house is split in twain,
  Ruin occurs--ay! there's the rub
  Alike for Labour and Beelzebub.

  And anyhow I hope that, where
    At red of dawn on Rigi's height
  He jodels to the astonished air,
    LLOYD GEORGE is bent on sitting tight;
  Nor, as he did in THOMAS' case,
  Nurses a scheme for saving SMILLIE'S face.

  Why should his face be saved? indeed,
    Why should he have a face at all?
  But, if he _must_ have one to feed
    And smell with, let the man install
  A better kind, and thank his luck
  That _all_ his headpiece hasn't come unstuck.


       *       *       *       *       *


As I entered the D.E.F. Company's depôt, Melancholy marked me for her own.
Business reasons--not my own but the more cogent business reasons of an
upperling--had just postponed my summer holiday; postponed it with a lofty
vagueness to "possibly November. We might be able to let you go by then, my
boy." November! What would Shrimpton-on-Sea be like even at the beginning
of November? Lovely sea-bathing, delicious boating, enchanting picnics on
the sand? I didn't think. Melancholy tatooed me all over with anchors and
pierced hearts, to show that I was her very own, not to be taken away.

I clasped my head in my hands and gazed in dumb agony at the menu card. A
kind waitress listened with one ear.

"Poached egg and bacon--two rashers," I murmured.

While I waited I crooned softly to myself:--

  "Poor disappointed Georgie. Life seems so terribly sad.
  All the bacon and eggs in the world, dear, won't make you a happy lad."

When the dish was brought I eyed it sadly. Sadly I raised a mouthful of
bacon to my lips....

Swish!!! The exclamation-marks signify the suddenness with which the train
swept into the station. I leapt down on to the platform and drew a long
breath. The sea! In huge whiffs the ozone rolled into my nostrils. I
gurgled with delight. Everything smelt of the dear old briny: the little
boys running about with spades and pails; the great basketsful of fish; the
blue jerseys of the red-faced men who, at rare intervals, toiled upon the
deep. At the far end of the platform I saw the reddest face of all, that of
my dear old landlord. I rushed to meet him....

Ah me, ah me! The incrusted-papered walls of the depôt girt me in again. I
took another mouthful of bacon--a larger one....

Bang! Someone was thumping on the door of my bathing-machine. What a
glorious scent of salt rose from the sea-washed floor! "Are you coming
out?" asked a persuasive voice. "No, no, no!" I shouted joyously. "I am
going in." What a dive! I never knew before how superlatively graceful my
dives could be. Away through the breakers with a racing stroke. Over on my
back, kicking fountains at the sun. In this warm water I should stay in for
hours and hours and....

Pah! That horrible incrusted paper back again! I bolted the remaining

The boat rocked gently in a glassy sea. They were almost climbing over the
gunwale in their eagerness to be caught. Lovely wet shining wriggly
fellows; all the varieties of the fishmonger's slab and more. In season or
out, they didn't care; they thought only of doing honour to my line. No
need in future for me to envy the little boys on the river-bank who pulled
in fish after fish when I never got a bite. How delightfully salt the fish
smelt! And the sun drew out the scent of salt from the gently lapping
waves. It was all so quiet and restful. Almost could I have slumbered, even
as I pulled them in and in and....

The waitress must have giggled. Once again the incrusted paper leered at me
in ail its horrible pink incrustiness. There was no bacon left on my plate.
But the delicious scent of salt still lingered. Alas, my holiday was over!
I must speed me or I should miss the train to town.

"Good-bye!" I shouted to the manageress and shook her by the hand. She
seemed surprised. "Such a happy time," I assured her. "I wish I could have
it all over again."

She said something which I could not hear. Sea-bathing tends to make me a
little deaf.

"If I have forgotten anything--my pyjamas or my shaving strop--would you be
so kind as to send them on? Good-bye again."

Something fluttered to the floor. The manageress stooped. I was just
passing through the portals.

"You have forgotten this," she called.

It was the dear little square piece of paper which contained my bill. I
looked at it in amazement.

"What!" I exclaimed--"only one-and-twopence for a poached egg and bacon and
all that salt flavour thrown in?"

       *       *       *       *       *


    "European lady (widow), rather lovely, would like to hear from Army
    Officer or Civilian in a similar position, with a view to keeping up a
    congenial correspondence."--_Indian Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *

    "A correspondent in the Air Force writes from Bangalore:--

    'It is rather amusing to notice the number of people in the English
    community who have never before seen an aeroplane coming up to the
    aerodrome and gazing in wonder at the old buses.'"--_Evening Standard._

Even in England this spectacle is still the object of remark.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "We really feel inclined to parody Kipling and say--

  'One hand stuck in your dress shirt from to show heart is cline,
  The other held behind your back, to signal, tax again.'"

_Singapore Free Press._

We can only hope our esteemed contemporary will not feel this way again.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THE ROAD TO RUIN.




       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Mrs. Smithson-Jones_ (_to her husband, who WILL garden in
his pyjamas before breakfast_). "_DO_ COME IN, ADOLPHUS; YOU'RE DELAYING

       *       *       *       *       *



Good morning, gentlemen. Before I pass to the subject of my lecture today I
must deal briefly with a personal matter of some delicacy. Since I began
this series of lectures on the Art of Poetry I notice that the new
Professor of Poetry at Oxford, Mr. W.P. KER, in what I think is
questionable taste, has delivered an inaugural lecture on the _same_
subject under the _same_ title. On the question of good taste I do not wish
to say much, except that I should have thought that any colleague of mine,
even an entirely new Professor in a provincial university, would have
recognised the propriety of at least communicating to me his intention
before committing this monstrous plagiarism.

However, as I say, on that aspect of the matter I do not propose to dwell,
though it does seem to me that decency imposes certain limits to that kind
of academic piracy, and that those limits the Professor has overstepped. In
these fermenting days of licence and indiscipline persons in responsible
positions at our seats of learning have a great burden of example to bear
before the world, and if it were to go forth that actions of this type may
be taken with impunity by highly-paid Professors then indeed we are not far
from Bimetallism and the breaking-up of laws.

Now let us glance for a moment at the substance of the lecture. I should
have been glad if Professor KER had had the courtesy to show it to me
before it was delivered, instead of my having to wait till it was printed
and buy it in a shop, because I might have induced him to repair the more
serious errors and omissions in his work. For really, when you come to
analyse the lecture, what thin and bodyless stuff it is. Let me at once pay
tribute to my colleague's scholarship and learning, to the variety of his
citations. But, after all, anyone can buy a Quotation Dictionary and quote
bits out of SWINBURNE. That surely--(see FREIDRICH'S _Crime and Quotation_,
pp. 246-9)--is not the whole task of a Professor of Poetry.

Such a man, if he is to earn his pay, must be able--

(_a_) to show how poetry is written;

(_b_) to write poetry;

and it is no good his attempting (_a_) in the absence of (_b_). It is no
good teaching a man to slope arms if you are unable to slope arms yourself,
because a moment will come when he says, "Well, how the dickens _do_ you
slope them?" It is no good professing lawn-tennis and saying, "Top-spin is
imparted by drawing the racquet up and over," and so on, if, when you try
to impart top-spin yourself, the ball disappears on to the District
Railway. Still less is it useful if you deliver a long address to the
student, saying, "H.L. DOHERTY was a good player, and so was RENSHAW, and I
well remember the game between MCLOUGHLIN and WILDING, because WILDING hit
the ball over the net more often than MCLOUGHLIN did."

Those students who have attended my lectures more regularly than others--
and I am sorry there are not more of them--will do me the justice to
remember that I have put forward no theory of writing which I was not
prepared to illustrate in practice from my own work. My colleague, so far
as I can discover, makes one single attempt at practical assistance; and
even that is a minor plagiarism from one of my own lectures. He makes a
good deal of play with what he calls the principle and influence of the
Italian Canzone, which simply means having a lot of ten-syllable lines and
a few six-syllable ones. Students will remember that in our second lecture
we wrote a poem on that principle, which finished:--

  Toroodle--umti--oodle--umti--knife (or strife)
        Where have they put my hat?

That lecture was prepared on May 27th; my colleague's lecture was delivered
on June 5th. It is clear to me that in the interval--by what discreditable
means I know not--he obtained access to my manuscript and borrowed the
idea, thinking to cloak his guilt by specious talk about the Italian
_Canzone_. The device of offering stolen goods under a new name is an old
one, and will help him little; the jury will know what to think.

Apart from this single piece of (second-hand) instruction, what
contribution does he make to the student's knowledge of the Art of Poetry?
He makes no reference to comic poetry at all; apparently he has never
_heard_ of the Limerick, and I have the gravest doubts whether he can write
one, though that, I admit, is a severe test. I am prepared however to give
him a public opportunity of establishing his fitness for his post, and with
that end I propose to put to him the following problems, and if his answers
are satisfactory I shall most willingly modify my criticisms; but he must
write on one side of the paper only and number his pages in the top
right-hand corner.

_The Problems._

(1) What is the metre of:--

  "And the other grasshopper jumped right over the other grasshopper's

(2) Finish the uncompleted Limerick given in my Second Lecture, beginning:

  There was a young man who said "_Hell!_
  I don't think I feel very well."

(3) In your inaugural lecture you ask, "Is it true, or not, that the great
triumphs of poetical art often come suddenly?" The answer you give is most
unsatisfactory; give a better one now, illustrating the answer from your
own works.

(4) Write a Ballade of which the refrain is either--

  (_a_) The situation is extremely grave;
  (_b_) The Empire is not what it was;
  (_c_) We lived to see Lord Birkenhead.

NOTE.--Extra marks will be given for an attempt at (_b_) because of the
shortage of rhymes to _was_.

(5) What would you do in the following circumstances? In May you have sent
a poem to an Editor, ending with the lines--

  The soldiers cheered and cheered again--
    It was the PRINCE OF WALES.

On July 20th the Editor writes and says that he likes the poem very much,
and wishes to print it in his August number, but would be glad if you could
make the poem refer to Mr. or Mrs. DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS instead of the PRINCE.
He must have the proof by the first post to-morrow as he is going to press.
Show, how you would reconstruct your last verse.

(6) Consider the following passages--

  (i) I love little pussy,
        Her coat is so _warm_,
      And if I don't hurt her
        She'll do me no _harm_.

  (ii) Who put her _in_?
       Little Tommy _Green_.

(_a_) Carefully amend the above so that they rhyme properly.

(_b_) Do you as a matter of principle approve of these kinds of rhyme?

(_c_) If not, do you approve of them in (i) SHAKSPEARE, (ii) WORDSWORTH,
(iii) SHELLEY, (iv) Any serious classic?


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Customer._ "AND I HAD ONE OF THOSE LITTLE ROUND BUN




       *       *       *       *       *

    "Four Volumes 'The Great World War,' pre-war price Rs. 40. What offers?
    Perfect."--_Indian Paper._

A clear case of propheteering.

       *       *       *       *       *

From an Irish Labour manifesto:--

    "Impulsive cats, howsoever justifiable, may prove to be unwise."--
    _Irish Paper._

Remember what happened at Kilkenny.

       *       *       *       *       *


    [Something was said in _Punch_ last week about the advantage to the
    reminiscencer of being his (or her) own JOHNSON and BOSWELL too. Mrs.
    ASQUITH'S recent adventures with the descendants of some of her late
    friends, of whose fair fame they are not less jealous than she, suggest
    certain of the pitfalls incident to this double _rôle_, particularly
    when the autobiographer is remote from his (or her) journals. Since
    however an inaccuracy always has a day's start and is never completely
    overtaken, while in course of time the pursuit ceases altogether, the
    greatest danger is not immediate but for the future. Let us imagine a


By the Author of _Statesmen I Have Influenced_; _My Wonderful Life_; _The
Souls' Awakener_; _The Elusive Diary_, _etc., etc._

One of my dearest friends in the early nineteen hundreds was Mr. Sadrock. I
have known eleven Prime Ministers in my time and have assurances from all,
signed and witnessed, that but for me and my vivacious encouragement they
would never have pulled through; but with none was I on terms of such close
communion as with Mr. Sadrock, who not only asked my advice on every
occasion of importance, but spent many of his waking hours in finding
rhymes to my name. Some of his four-lined couplets in my honour could not
be either wittier or more charming as compliments.

He often averred that no one could amuse him as I did. He laughed once for
half-an-hour on end when I said, "It takes a Liberal to be a Tory;" and on
another occasion when I said, "The essence of Home Rule is, like charity,
that it begins abroad." Nothing but the circumstance that he was already
happily married prevented him from proposing to me.

Mr. Sadrock is now to many people only a name; but in his day he was a
force to compare with which we have at this moment only one statesman and
he is temporarily out of office.

The odd thing is that if the ordinary person were to be asked what Mr.
Sadrock was famous for, he would probably reply, For his devotion to HOMER
and the Established Church. But the joke is that when I was with him in
1902 he was frivolous on both these subjects. It was, I remember, in the
private room at the House of Commons set apart for Prime Ministers, to
which, being notoriously so socially couth, I always had a private key--the
only one ever given to a woman--and he was more than usually delightful.

This is what was said:--

_MR. SADROCK_ (_mixing himself an egg nogg_). Will you join me?

_MYSELF._ No, thank you. But I like to see you applying yourself to
Subsidiary Studies to the Art of Butler.

_MR. SADROCK_ (_roaring with laughter_). That's very good. Some day you
must put your best things into a book.

_MYSELF._ You bet.

_MR. SADROCK._ I wonder why it is that you make me so frank. It is your
wonderful sympathetic understanding, I suppose. I long to tell you
something now.

_MYSELF_ (_affecting not to care_). Do. I am secrecy itself.

_MR. SADROCK._ Would it surprise you to know that I am privily a Dissenter?
Do you know that I often steal away in a false beard to attend the services
of Hard-Shell Baptists and Plymouth Brethren?

_MYSELF._ I hope I am no longer capable of feeling anything so _démodé_ as

_MR. SADROCK._ And that I prefer _Robert Elsmere_ to the _Iliad_?

_MYSELF._ May I print those declarations in my book?

_MR. SADROCK._ Some day, yes, but not yet, not yet.

       *       *       *       *       *

MR. SADROCK AND NONCONFORMITY. _To the Editor of_ "_The Monday Times_."

SIR,--I find it necessary, in the interests of truth and of respect for the
memory of my uncle, Mr. Sadrock, to contest the accuracy of the Margotist's
report of conversations with him in 1902. To begin with, my uncle died in
1898, four years before the alleged interview. She could therefore not have
talked with him in 1902; and the _locale_ of this meeting, the Prime
Minister's room, becomes peculiarly fantastic. Secondly, no member of his
family--and they saw him constantly--ever heard him utter anything
resembling the sentiments which the Margotist attributes to him. Mr.
Sadrock was both an undeviating Churchman and a devotee of HOMER to the end
of his life.



SIR,--I have read Mr. Theophilus Sadrock's letter and am surprised by its
tone. If Mr. Sadrock did not make use of the words that I attribute to him
how could I have set them down? Because I was writing unobserved all the
time he was talking, and I could produce the notes if they were, to others,
legible enough for it to be worth while; surreptitious writing must
necessarily be indistinct at times. As for the question of time and place,
that is a mere quibble. Mr. Sadrock was alive when we had our talk, and I
am sorry if I have misdated it. The talk remains. May I add that it is very
astonishing to me to find people with the effrontery to suggest that they
knew their illustrious relatives better than strangers could. Everyone is
aware that the last place to go to for evidence as to a man is to his kith
and kin. When my book appears there will be a few corrections; but in the
main I stand by the motto which I invented for Chamberlain one evening:
"What I have written I have written."

I am, Yours, etc.,


_The Woop._

       *       *       *       *       *


_Published in 1940._

Before leaving our consideration of Sadrock's Homeric studies it is however
necessary to point out that late in life he made a very curious
recantation. In a book of memoirs, published in 1920, by one who was in a
position to acquire special information, it is stated in his own words that
Sadrock preferred _Robert Elsmere_ to the _Iliad_; while during the same
conversation he confessed to a passion for the services of Dissenters,
which, he said, he often frequented _incognito_. No biographer can
disregard such admissions, and we must revise our opinion of the great
statesman accordingly.


       *       *       *       *       *

    "SALE, Gent's Evening Suit, Tennis Trousers, Sweater, Black Silk Coat
    suit elderly lady."--_Irish Paper._

The revolutionary movement in Ireland seems to have reached even the

       *       *       *       *       *

    "LONDON, JULY 16.

    It is reported on reliable authority that General Wrangel has refused
    to withdraw to the Cinema in compliance with the terms of the proposed
    armistice.--_Statesman_ (_Calcutta_).

It is believed that "MARY" and "DOUG." were greatly relieved to be rid of
so dangerous a rival.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "When is the demoralisation at some of our great London hotels to give
    place to reasonable service and cleanliness? On every side I hear
    complaints of inefficient attendance and dirty rooms. As for clean
    towels in the bathroom, they appear on the Ides of March."--_Sunday

At one hotel, we understand, they failed to remember the Ides of March and
are now waiting for the Greek Kalends.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THE "DO-IT-YOURSELF" AGE.


       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


We publish a few selected letters from the mass of correspondence which has
reached us in connection with the controversy initiated by "A Bewildered
Parent" in _The Morning Post_:


SIR,--I confess I cannot share the anxiety of the "Bewildered Parent" who
complains of the child of two and a half years who addressed her learned
parent as "Old bean." As a convinced Montessorian I recognise in the
appellation a gratifying evidence of that self-expression which cannot
begin too young. Moreover there is nothing derogatory in the phrase; on the
contrary I am assured on the best authority that it is a term of endearment
rather than reproach. But, above all, as a Vegetarian I welcome the choice
of the term as an indication of the growth of the revolt against
carnivorous brutality. If the child in question had called her parent a
"saucy kipper" or "a silly old sausage" there would have been reasonable
ground for resentment. But comparison with a bean involves no obloquy, but
rather panegyric. The bean is one of the noblest of vegetables and is
exceptionally rich in calories, protein, casein, carbo-hydrates, thymol,
hexamyl, piperazine, salicylic dioxide, and permanganate of popocatapetl.
This a learned parent, if his learning was real, ought to have recognised
at once, instead of foolishly exploiting a fancied grievance.

Yours farinaceously,



SIR,--Some sixty years ago I was rebuked by my father for addressing him as
"Governor." Thirty years later I was seriously offended with my own son for
calling me an "old mug." He in turn, though not by any means a learned man,
has within the last few weeks been irritated by his school-boy son
derisively addressing him as an "old dud." The duel between fathers and
sons is as old as the everlasting hills, and the rebels of one generation
become the fogeys of the next. I have no doubt that in moments of expansion
the young Marcellus alluded to his august parent as "_faba antiqua_."

Yours faithfully,



SIR,--As a middle-aged mother I do not appeal for your sympathy, I merely
wish to describe my position, the difficulties of which might no doubt be
paralleled in hundreds of other households. I have three children whose
characteristics may be thus briefly summarised:--

(1) Pamela, aged nineteen, is an ultra-modern young woman. She hates
politics of all shades, but adores SCRIABINE, STRAVINSKY and BENEDETTO
CROCE. She smokes cigars, wears male attire and has a perfect command of
the art of ornamental objurgation.

(2) Gerald, aged twenty-three, is war-weary; resentful of all authority;
"bored stiff" by any music save of the syncopated brand, and he divides his
time between Jazz-dancing with the dismal fervour of a gloomy dean and
attending meetings of pro-Bolshevist extremists.

(3) Anthony, aged twenty-six, is a soldier, a "regular"; restrained in
speech, somewhat old-fashioned in his tastes. This summer he spent his
leave fishing in Scotland and took with him two books--the _Life of
Stonewall Jackson_ and the _Bible_. It is hardly necessary to add that
Gerald is not on speaking terms with him.

As for myself, while anxious to keep in touch with my wayward brood, I find
the strain of accommodating myself to their varied requirements almost more
than I can stand. Pamela can only endure my companionship on the conditions
that I smoke (which makes me ill); that I emulate the excesses of her lurid
lingo (which makes me squirm), and that I paint my face (which makes me
look like a modern Messalina, which I am not). Gerald is prepared to accept
me as a "pal," provided that I play David to his Saul by regaling him on
Sunday mornings with negroid melodies, which he punctuates with snorts on
the trombone. If he knew that I went to early morning service all would be
at an end between us. Finally, Anthony wants me to remain as I was and
really am. So you see that I have to lead not a dual but a triple life, and
am only spared the necessity of making it quadruple by the fact that my
husband is fortunately dead. As Pamela gracefully remarked the other day,
"It was a good thing for poor father that he went West to sing bass in the
heavenly choir before we grew up." In conclusion I ought to admit that my
future is not without prospects of alleviation. Pamela has just announced
her engagement to an archdeacon of pronounced Evangelical views; Gerald is
meditating a prolonged tour in New Guinea with a Bolshevist mission;
Anthony contemplates neither matrimony nor expatriation.

I am, Sir, Yours respectfully,



SIR,--As a novelist and dramatist whose work has met with high encomiums
DE WALDEN, I wish to impress upon you and your readers the hardships and
restrictions which the tyranny of parental control still imposes on
juvenile genius. Though I recently celebrated my seventh birthday, my
father and mother have firmly refused to provide me with either a latch-key
or a motor-bicycle. Owing to the lack of proper accommodation in my nursery
my literary labours are carried on under the greatest difficulties and
hampered by constant interruptions from my nurse, a vulgar woman with a
limited vocabulary and no aspirates. I say nothing, though I might say
much, of the jealousy of adult authors, the pusillanimity of unenterprising
publishers, the senile indifference of Parliament. But I warn them that,
unless the just claims of youth to economic and intellectual independence
are speedily acknowledged, the children of England will enforce them by
direct action of the most ruthless kind. The brain that rules the cradle
rocks the world.

Yours indignantly,



SIR,--I have followed the _Youth_ v. _Age_ controversy with interest and
venture to sum up its progress so far in ten of the worst lines in the

  There was an old don so engrossed
  In maintaining his rule of the roast
      That he made quite a scene
      When addressed as "Old bean,"
  And wrote to complain in _The Post_.

  Whereupon the disciples of WELLS
  Emitted a chorus of yells,
      And they fell upon Age
      With unfilial rage
  And gave it all manner of hells.

I am, Sir, Yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Meanest Member_ (_seeking free advice, after driving out of
bounds, from professional who is giving a lesson to another player_).

_Professional_ (_after deep thought_). "WELL, SIR, MEBBE YE'RE NO' HITTIN'

       *       *       *       *       *


    Fine weather has resigned with only brief interruptions since the
    season began."--_Times._

Just as in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Alice ----, a married woman, was charged with unlawfully wounding her
    husband, Charles ----, a labourer, by striking him with a pair of
    tongues."--_Local Paper._

CHARLES has our sympathy. He might just as well have been a bigamist.

       *       *       *       *       *


  James, if from life's little worries and trouble you
    Sigh to be wafted afar,
  Meet me at Paddington Station, G.W.

  Thence, if our plans be not baulked by some latterday
    Railwayman-unionist freak,
  We'll make a bold bid for freedom on Saturday

  Care may ride pillion or on the ship's deck set her
    Foot, but she'll hunt us in vain
  Once we've set ours on the ten-thirty Exeter

  Ours no "resort" where you run up iniquitous
    Bills at the "Royal" or "Grand,"
  Blatant with pier and parade and ubiquitous

  No "silver sea" where the gaudy and giddy come;
    We're for a peacefuller air
  Breathing of _Uncle Tom Cobley_ and Widdicombe

  Warm as a welcome the red of the tillage is,
    Green are the pastures, and deep
  Down in the combes little thatch-covered villages

  Far from society (praises to Allah be!),
    Wearing demobilised boots,
  Clad in our  countrified  (Deeley-cum-Mallaby)

  We'll o'er the moor where the ways never weary us,
    Lunch at a primitive pub,
  Loaf till it's time to get back to more serious

  Haply some neighbouring Dartymoor brooklet'll
    Tempt us at eve to set out,
  Greenheart in hand, and endeavour to hook little

  Well, there's a programme for three weeks of heaven, sheer
    Bliss, if you add to the scheme
  Farm eggs and bacon and junket and Devonshire

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Customer._ "I SAY--DO YOU EVER PLAY ANYTHING BY REQUEST?"

_Delighted Musician._ "CERTAINLY, SIR."


       *       *       *       *       *


Two or three hundred yards behind the sandhills, which seem to be deserted
but are really full of sudden hollows, with embarrassing little bathing
tents in them, the village sports have just been held. They took place in a
sloping grass field kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. Bates. This means
that you paid a shilling to enter the field, whereas on other days you can
picnic in it or play cricket in it without paying anything at all. Mr.
Bates is a kind of absentee landlord so far as we are concerned, for he is
the butcher at Framford, four miles away, and only brings the proceeds of
his butchery to us on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is the reason why on
Mondays and Thursdays one usually has eggs and bacon for dinner.

It was an interesting afternoon for many reasons, most of all perhaps
because many of the visitors saw each other for the first time in
clothes--in land clothes, I mean--and it is wonderful how much smarter some
of them looked than when popping red or brown faces, with lank wisps of
hair on them, out of the brine.

Some of the athletic events were open, like the Atlantic Sea, and some
close, like the Conferences at Lympne, but very few of the visitors
competed in any of them. I don't think any of us fancied our chances
overmuch, but personally I was a little bitter about the three-mile bicycle
race, because there were three prizes and only three competitors. I am past
my prime at this particular sport, but as it happened one of the three
broke his gear-chain somewhere about the seventh lap, and it was a long
time before he mended it and rode triumphantly past the finishing flag. I
felt then that I had missed what was probably my first and last chance of
securing an Olympic palm.

The whole affair struck me as being very well managed; dull events, like
the high jump and putting the shot, being held quietly in a corner by the
hedge, whilst the really interesting things, like the sack race and the egg
and spoon race, went on in the middle. We used potatoes instead of eggs,
but whether there was a system of handicapping according to the weight and
age of the potatoes I was unable to determine. I do feel confident,
however, that that girl with the yellow hair and the striped skirt to whom
the first prize was quite incorrectly awarded by the judges had put some
treacle--But there, I will be magnanimous.

The postman was a great success. He had acquired a light suit of overalls,
on which he had painted three large red stars, using, I hope, Government
red ink, and with black cheeks and a floured nose footed it solemnly to the
music of the Framford Comrades' Band. He also ran underneath the lath at
the high jump and tumbled down in trying to put the shot. All round the
field children could be heard asking, "What _is_ he doing, Mummy?" and,
when they were told, "Hush, dears, he's doing it for a _joke_," their eyes
danced and they tried for a moment to control their emotion and then broke
into shrieks of laughter. All the difficult open events which were not won
by a young man in puce-coloured shorts were won by a friend of his in a
yellow shirt. I have an idea that these two young men came from Framford
and go round doing this kind of thing and getting prizes for it, just as
Mr. Bates goes round selling his beef.

Amidst all this fun and frolic, if you went up to the top of one of the
sandhills and looked across the blue bay to the little seaport opposite,
you saw that it was also emptied of its folk this pious afternoon and was
in fact holding aquatic revels. Little fishing-boats with brown sails were
turning about a given mark. There were rowing races and diving competitions
and a greasy pole and very probably a comic man dressed up as a buoy.

I have pondered deeply over these twin feasts, and it has occurred to me
that, whilst land sports and water sports are both of them very good things
in their way, neither expresses the real genius of a maritime resort, and
also that we visitors, if we are too shy to enter with gusto into the local
games, ought to provide some suitable entertainment in return. I have
compiled therefore a programme of a Grand Beach Gala for next week, and
have had a notice put up in the post-office window inviting entries. Not
many people buy stamps at the post-office, but, as you get bacon and spades
and buckets and jam there, it is a pretty popular emporium, and I think my
list of events should prove an attractive one. It runs as follows:--

1. _Pebble and Tent Competition._--Fathers of families only. To be run if
possible at low tide on a wet and windy day. Competitors to leave starting
post in ordinary attire, enter tent, emerge in bathing costume, strike
tents, sprint over shingle to the sea, swim to a given point, return, pitch
tents, dress and run to winning-post.

FIRST PRIZE, a ham sandwich, with real sand.

2. _Sock Race._--Under ten. Competitors to start barefooted in rock-pools
and race at the sound of a dinner-bell to nurses, have feet dried, put on
shoes and stockings and run to row of buns at top of beach. First bun down
wins. Points deducted for sand in socks.

3. _Hundred Yards Paddle Dash._--To be run along the edge of surf. Handicap
by position. Tallest competitor to have deepest station. Open to all ages
and sexes. Feet to be lifted clear of the water at every stride. Properly
raced this is a fine frothy event, productive of the greatest enthusiasm,
especially if the trousers come unrolled.

4. _Sand Castle Contest._--Open to all families of eight. Twenty minutes
time limit. Largest castle wins. Moats must contain real sea-water.

5. _Impromptu Picnic._--Ladies only. Materials must be collected from the
village shops, brought down to beach and spread out at winning flag. For
the purpose of this competition the sports must take place on a Thursday,
when the weekly visit of the greengrocer coincides with one of the
bi-weekly visits of the baker from Framford. Eggs and butter must be
obtained at the Mill Farm, and you can do the rest at the post-office.

6. _Fifty Yards Hat Race._--Under five. Fathers to be seated in a row on
beach. Competitors to remove fathers' hats, run twenty-five yards, fill
hats with sand, return and replace hats.

In order to prevent any ill-feeling that might arise from the thought that
I had practised any of these races in private beforehand I have elected to
be the judge.


       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


    [A story of the supernatural, which should not be read late at night by
    persons of weak nerves.]

Outwardly, "Chatholme" was as all the other villas in Dunmoral Avenue,
which were just detached enough to allow the butcher's boy to squeeze
himself and his basket--and perhaps the cook--between any two of them, and
differed from each other in nothing but names, numbers and window-curtains.

And the interior of the house, when the Pottigrews took possession of it,
seemed equally commonplace. There is no need to show you all over it, but
if you intend to peruse this narrative, in spite of the warning above, it
is desirable that you should at least inspect the ground-floor.

On one side of the hall, which was faintly illumined in the daytime by a
fanlight, was the drawing-room; on the other side was the dining-room, and
behind the dining-room was a smaller room with a French-window looking on
to the back-garden, which probably was described by the house-agents as the
"morning-room," but was by Mr. Pottigrew designated his "study."

Prosaic enough, you will say. And yet there was that about the ground-floor
of "Chatholme" which was anything but matter-of-fact, as the Pottigrews
began to discover before they had been in residence many days.

Mrs. Pottigrew was the first to "sense" something out of the ordinary. She
was of Manx origin, and therefore peculiarly sensitive to "influences;" one
of those uncomfortable people who cannot visit such places as Hampton Court
or the Tower without vibrating like harp-strings.

Mr. Pottigrew, however, was of the duller fibre of which cyclists rather
than psychists are made; and when, on his return from the City one
afternoon, his wife tried to get him to appreciate a certain eeriness in
the atmosphere of the new home, he sniffed it dutifully, and declared that
he could detect nothing but a confounded smell of onions.

"That's because they _won't_ remember to shut the kitchen door," Mrs.
Pottigrew explained. "But--"

"Well, it can't be the drains, because they've just been tested," said Mr.
Pottigrew impatiently. And, like a stout materialist, he muttered,
"Imagination!" as he strolled away to the sanctuary of his study, little
guessing how his own imagination was about to be stimulated.

(Look here--this is where the creepy business begins. If, on consideration,
you feel you'd rather read about cricket or politics or something, I'll
excuse you.)

A little later, as Mrs. Pottigrew was crossing the hall, she was stopped
short by a strange, gasping choky sound which came from the study. There
followed the crash of a chair being overturned; the door opened and her
husband staggered out with scared eyes in a face as white as marble, and
beads of sweat on his brow.

When a stiff brandy had restored the power of speech to Mr. Pottigrew, he
described the remarkable and alarming seizure he had just experienced.

He had turned his arm-chair to the French-window, he said, with the
intention of enjoying a quiet smoke, and no sooner had he seated himself
and leaned back than an indescribable feeling of suffocation had crept upon
him, and at the same time he had been aware of a curious loss of control
over his jaws, so that he had been unable to prevent his mouth opening to
its widest extent. When he had tried to rise to his feet an invisible force
had seemed to be holding him down, and it was only by a tremendous effort
of will that he had managed to keep his senses and struggle to the door.

He resolutely refused to see a doctor, but, deciding that the attack was a
warning that he had been overdoing it, he retired forthwith to bed. By the
morning he felt so well that he prescribed for himself a few quiet days by
the sea. And so he packed his bag and took himself off by an early train to

That afternoon was marked by another disagreeable occurrence. After the way
of her kind, Mrs. Pottigrew's Aunt Charlotte was attracted by the idea of
using a room from which normally the female members of the household were
excluded. So she took her needlework into the study and prepared to spend a
quiet hour or so in the armchair facing the French-window.

Hardly had she settled down when she too experienced the same feeling of
suffocation and the same involuntary opening of the jaws which Mr.
Pottigrew had described. She struggled against it, but, lacking the
will-power of her robust nephew-by-marriage, she was overcome by
unconsciousness. When she came to, a little dazed and faint, a few moments
later, she was dismayed to discover that her expensive dental-plate--a full
set--was lying on the floor, shattered beyond repair.

Not being a person of vivid imagination, she attributed her transient
illness to intense sympathy with Mr. Pottigrew, and resigned herself to a
diet of slops until she could be furnished with new means of mastication.

Next day, a Saturday, came the climax. Early in the evening an urgent
telegram summoned Mr. Pottigrew back from Brighton. Hastening home, he was
received by a wife distraught.

"What did I tell you?" she wailed. "Send for Sir CONAN DOYLE. Poor dear
Aubrey! The doctor is upstairs with him."

Mr. Pottigrew hurriedly ascended to the bedroom of his son and heir, a fine
healthy youth, just of an age to appreciate his father's cigars. (This, of
course, is a pre-Budget story.)

The young fellow lying upon the bed smiled bravely as his father entered,
but Mr. Pottigrew was shocked to see that he smiled with toothless gums. A
grave professional-looking man rose from the bedside and beckoned Mr.
Pottigrew out of the room.

"This extraordinary case, Sir," said the doctor as he closed the door
behind him, "is the outcome of causes quite beyond the present scope of the
medical profession. The sound, strong, firm teeth--a splendid set--of a
healthy young man do not jump out of his head of their own accord, every
one of them, for any natural reason."

He paused and lowered his voice as he continued: "I am afraid, Mr.
Pottigrew, however reluctant we may be to admit the possibility, that there
is no doubt that you have taken a haunted house. The previous tenant was a
dentist--poor Mr. Acres. The room which is your study was his operating
room. _He died in that room while administering gas to himself preparatory
to extracting his own teeth._"

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _North-Country Farmer_ (_to Profiteer fishing the Fell
becks_). "CAUGHT OWT?"


       *       *       *       *       *


    "Nurse; 39; experienced bottle fed; £40 to £50."--_Daily Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *


    "Oban is proving an attractive centre, for Lord ----, Lady ---- and
    many others have departed thence during the last day or so."--_Daily

We think it only kind to suppress the names.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "All new demands for capital, whether for private or public purposes,
    had been met out of the sayings of the people."--_Daily Paper._

Mr. Punch may perhaps be permitted to mention that he has himself given
currency to a number of capital stories.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "It is to be hoped that, now that their unhappy country is in the
    throes of the most ghastly terror of her history, the irreconcilable
    elements in the Irish nation will see an all-compelling reason for
    exercising the demon of strife.--_Indian Paper._

Unfortunately they seem to be doing so only too freely.

       *       *       *       *       *


    [An address to the League of Nations on learning that it is considering
    a scheme to tackle the rat plague.]

  Not yours to lure the lands of Cross or Crescent
    Back from Bellona where she bangs her drum,
  Nor make this Hades, anyhow at present,
            The New Elysium.

  For still the sword gleams mightier than the pen in
    Europe, you'll notice, at the Bolshies' beck;
  Confess now that the case of Mr. LENIN
            Gets you right in the neck.

  So I have read with wondrous satisfaction,
    Feeling in this your hands are far from tied,
  That you propose to emulate the action
            Of _Hamelin's Piper (Pied)_.

  And, though the task prove hard and ever harder,
    From your crusade, I trust, you'll never cease
  Till you've restored good-will to every larder
            And to each pantry peace.

  Then, when the cocksure critic in his crudeness
    Pops you the question while his back he pats,
  "What have you done?" you'll find at last, thank goodness,
            One ready answer--"Rats!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Puccinni's three one-act operas, erroneously described as a
    typtich...."--_Evening Paper._

But what about the spelling of "Puccinni"? We fear our contemporary has,
after all, been caught triptyching.

       *       *       *       *       *


The only way to build a house properly is to employ an architect to build
it for you. All the best houses are built by architects--any architect will
tell you that. But of course you will always be allowed to say that _you_
built it, so it will come to the same thing.

The walls of an architect's office are covered with drawings of enormous
public buildings which the architect has erected in every capital of
Europe. There are also a few of the statelier homes of England which he has
put up in his spare time.

While you are waiting you compare these with your own scheme of the
six-roomed villa you propose to build.

At last you are ushered into the presence and unless a stove-pipe
protruding from your waistcoat pocket suggests that you are travelling in
somebody's radiators you will probably be asked to sit down, and may even
be given a cigarette. There is no difficulty in opening your business. The
architect can see at a glance what you have come for and says quite simply,
"You want to build a house?"

"I do," you reply.

"How many reception rooms?"

This rather staggers you. You had not intended to have any reception rooms
at all. You never give receptions. All you wanted was a dining-room and a
drawing-room, and a study with a round window over the fire-place.

But it is evidently impossible to confide this to the architect. All you
can do is to reply as naturally as you can:--

"About half-a-dozen."

"Eight reception rooms," says the architect. "And how many bedrooms?"

"I don't really know; about one each."

"Twenty bedrooms," suggests the architect (there are three in your family).
"And did you say a garage to hold two cars?"

By this time you realise that you are engaged in a game something like
auction bridge and so far your opponent has done all the over-calling.

"Double two cars!" you cry excitedly.

"Five cars," rejoins the Architect.

"Six cars!"

"Garage to hold six cars," repeats the Architect, confessing defeat. "You
are, of course, aware that a house on this scale will cost you at least
twenty thousand pounds?"

"Of course," you reply, and you honestly think it would be cheap at the

After this the only thing to do is to get away as quickly as possible. It
would be pure bathos to suggest any of your wife's labour-saving devices,
or introduce the subject of that circular bath-room with a circular bath
hanging by chains from the ceiling and a spirit-stove under it--your pet
invention. Recall a pressing engagement, shake the architect firmly by the
hand and promise to come and see him next Tuesday about details. In the
interval you can compose a letter at your leisure, informing him that in
view of the high cost of materials, etc., etc., you have decided to
postpone the building of your house, but you desire to build _at once_ a
gardener's cottage (so that the gardener can be getting the grounds into
order) containing one dining-room, one drawing-room, one study (with one
round window), three bedrooms, one circular bathroom (with one circular
bath) and one tool-shed to hold one tool.

Even so you will probably have to make concessions. Your window will be
hexagonal and your bath square. But your worries are over. The architect
will choose a builder and between them they will build your house during
the next six years, which you will spend in lodgings. It is a long time to
wait, certainly, but you will find plenty of amusement in occasionally
counting the number of bricks that have been laid since last time. And then
in 1926, as you smoke your pipe in your study and gaze out of your
hexagonal window, you will not covet the Paradise of ADAM, the first

       *       *       *       *       *


  Adolphus Minns resides at Kew
  And does what people ought to do.

  In boarding trains his instincts are
  To "let 'em first get off the car,"
  Then "hurry up" himself to enter,
  And "pass along right down the centre."

  Though nigh his destination be
  No selfish "door-obstructor" he:
  Rather than bear such imputation
  He'll travel on beyond his station.

  His unexceptionable ways
  E'en liftmen have been known to praise--
  A folk censorious and, as such,
  Not given to praising over-much.

  Small need have they to shout a grim
  "No smoking in the lift" at him,
  Or ask if he's the only one
  For whom the lift is being run.

  Adolphus Minns, who lives at Kew,
  Does all that people ought to do--
  Retires to bed before eleven,
  Is up and shaved by half-past seven--
  And, when he dies, he'll go to Heaven.

  Perhaps he's gone; I've never met
  His like at Kew or elsewhere yet.

       *       *       *       *       *


The telephone bell rang just as I was beginning breakfast.

"What is your number, please?" asked an imperious voice.

In an emergency I never can remember my own number.

"Just hold on a minute while I look it up," I begged. Feverishly I turned
over the leaves of the telephone directory and, cutting with a blunt finger
the page containing the small advertisement that keeps my name before the
public eye, at last found and transmitted the desired information.

"Don't go away," said the voice again, this time with a shade of weariness
in its tone. "Chesterminster wants you."

I wasn't going away, because before Suzanne left me to visit her relatives
in Middleshire I had vowed that nothing would induce me to do so. But
Chesterminster wanted me. What should that portend?

"Tell them," I declaimed into the mouthpiece while I instinctively posed
for the camera, "that I feel greatly honoured by their invitation and in
other circumstances I should have been delighted to come forward as their
Candidate. The Parliamentary history of Chesterminster constitutes one of
the most romantic chapters in the chronicles of England; but just now I am
busy writing verses for next week's _Back Chat_, so--"

"If you will keep on talking to yourself you won't get connected,"
interrupted the voice. "You're thr-r-rough, Chesterminster."

"Are you Chelsea niner-seven-double-seven?" inquired a new voice, a little
more distant but not so haughty.

"No, nine I mean niner-double-seven-seven," I replied.

"Same thing," said the voice of Chesterminster. "Stokehampton wants you."

"Tell them--" I began, but my oratory was drowned by a rapid succession of
small explosions, and out of this unholy crepitation emerged a still small
voice which said, "Is that you, darling?" Then I suddenly remembered that
Stokehampton is Suzanne's relatives' nearest town of call.

"They want you to come tomorrow for the week-end," said Suzanne. "I lied to
them and said you were busy working, but they said you can have the library
to yourself whenever you want it, and spoke so nicely about you that I
couldn't refuse to ring you up. Besides, I want you to come, and the figs
and the mulberries are in splendid form."

Suzanne knows that my idea of Heaven is a garden full of fig-trees and
mulberry-bushes at the appropriate season of the year. But it was raining
hard, and I abominate week-ends; and Suzanne's relatives are well-meaning
folk who always want to arrange your day for you.

"No, Suzanne," I said, "emphatically, no. I can't think of a convincing
excuse at the moment, so you'd better say I'll be delighted to come. But
tomorrow morning you'll get a wire from me announcing that I'm sick of the
palsy--no, malaria, which they know I sometimes get--and that'll give you a
good ground for returning yourself tomorrow. Your three minutes is up.

With the inspiration still fresh upon me I wrote out the telegram and rang
for Evangeline.

"Evangeline," I said, "I may possibly be detained in bed tomorrow morning.
In case that should happen"--she never betrayed even a flicker of the eye,
although she could, an she would, tell Suzanne some damning tales of late
rising during her absence--please send this telegram off before breakfast;
that is, before _your_ breakfast."

Evangeline curtseyed and withdrew. I had spent my leisure moments during
the week teaching her the trick, as a surprise for Suzanne on her return.

Next morning, as I lay in bed thinking out the subject of my next Message
to the Nation, I was gratified to notice that the rain had ceased and the
sun was shining genially. I thought of Suzanne and the refreshing fruit in
Suzanne's relatives' attractive gardens. Should I go after all? I rang the

"Has that wire gone yet?" I asked.

"Indeed I took it these two hours back," replied Evangeline.

I looked at my watch and grunted.

"Bring me a telegram-form," I commanded, "and some hotter hot water."

So, having wired to Suzanne: "Malaria false alarm only passing effects of
overwork coming by the one-thirty PERCIVAL," I found myself at tea-time
being nursed back to health on mulberries-and-cream administered by the
solicitous hands of Aunt-by-acquisition Lucy.

"Well," I said to Suzanne a little later as we strolled in the direction of
the fig-trees, "how did it go off--my first wire, I mean?"

"Oh, I think I did it very well," she replied; "I gave a most realistic
exhibition of wifely concern, and the car had just come to take me to the
station when your second wire arrived."

"Then they didn't spot anything?"

"No," said Suzanne--"no, I don't think so."

After dinner that night I was playing billiards with Toby, who is Suzanne's
aunt's nephew-by-marriage. We had the room to ourselves.

"Dull part of the world this," he remarked. "By the way, what about that
malaria of yours?"

"What about it?" I observed shortly.

"Comes and goes rather suddenly, doesn't it?"

"Very," I agreed. "It's one of the suddenest diseases ever invented."

"'Invented' is a good word," said Toby. "You're a bit of an inventor,
aren't you?"

"What do you mean? Are you venturing to imply--"

"I imply nothing. I merely state that this morning Suzanne came down to
breakfast in her travelling-clothes. And that wasn't all."

"Wasn't it?" I inquired weakly. "Tell me the worst."

"All through breakfast," continued Toby with relish, "she was restless and
off her feed, and appeared to be listening for something. Afterwards
nothing could induce her to leave the house, and I myself caught her
surreptitiously studying the time-table. Every time a step was heard coming
up the drive she started to her feet. At last a telegraph-boy arrived.
Before anybody could discover whom the wire was addressed to, Suzanne
snatched it from the boy, tore it open, placed her hand in the region of
her heart and exclaimed, 'Oh, how provoking! Poor Percival's--' then she
turned it the right way up, looked unutterably foolish and meekly handed it
over to Aunt Lucy. It was from the old lady's stockbroker and referred to
some transaction or other in Housing Bonds."

"And what did Aunt Lucy say?" I asked.

"Oh, she just looked the least little bit surprised," replied Toby, "but
she didn't utter. Suzanne had to embrace the muddiest of all the cocker
pups to hide her flaming cheeks."

"Well, what happened then?"

"Then? Oh, then the telegraph-boy fished out another wire from his wallet.
I took it, glanced at the envelope and handed it to Suzanne. This time she
read it very gingerly before exclaiming in a highly unemotional voice: 'Oh,
how provoking! Poor Percival's got one of his sudden attacks of malaria and
can't come. So, if you don't mind, Aunt Lucy, I'll catch the eleven-fifteen
back.' Aunt Lucy was very sympathetic and went up to help her with her
packing, which was accomplished in a surprisingly short time; as a matter
of fact she had practically done it all before breakfast. Just as she was
going to drive off to the station up came another telegraph-boy. That was
your second wire, and Suzanne didn't seem any too pleased to receive it.
I'm not at all convinced," concluded Toby, "that your wife would make her
fortune on the stage."

"Do you think Aunt Lucy suspects?" I asked.

"Bless you, no. The dear old thing has the heart of a child."

Maybe, but I have my doubts. Suzanne's aunt insisted on my staying a week
as a preventive against a nervous breakdown, and the tonic with which she
herself dosed me several times a day was the most repulsive beverage I had
ever tasted, effectually ruining the savour of figs and mulberries. Can it
be that Aunt Lucy is not only of a suspicious but also of a revengeful

Suzanne ridicules my doublings and declares that she could make her aunt
swallow anything. I wish she could have made her swallow my tonic.

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

    KAMENEFF to KRASSIN (on applying for passports): "_Cras ingens
    iterabimus æquor._"

       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks._)

It would certainly have been a thousand pities if the coming of Peace had
deprived us of anything so cheerfully stimulating as the tales of "SAPPER"
(CYRIL MCNEILE). His _Bull-Dog Drummond_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) shows all
the old breathless invention as active as ever, while the pugnacity--to
give it no stronger term--is wholly unrestrained, even by what might seem
the unpromising atmosphere of Godalming in 1919. It would, of course, be
utterly beyond my scope to give in barest outline any list of the wild and
whirling events that begin when _Captain Hugh Drummond_ selects the most
encouraging of the answers to his "Bored ex-soldier" advertisement and
meets the writer, a cryptic but lovely lady, in the Carlton lounge.
(Judging by contemporary fiction, what histories could those walls reveal!)
After that the affair almost instantly develops into one lurid sequence of
battle, murder, bluff and the kind of ten-minutes-here-for-courtship which
proves that there is a gentler side even to the process of tracking crime.
As usual, though less in this business than most, because of the engaging
humour of the hero, I experienced a mild sympathy for the arch-villains;
and indeed they might well feel some bitterness when, after being described
as the master-intellects of the age, the author required them to conduct
their most secret affairs in a lighted ground-floor room with the curtains
undrawn. Most of them turn out to be Bolshevists, or at least in the
receipt of Soviet subsidies--though I see a well-known Labour Daily
reviewed the plot as unconvincing. Odd! Anyhow, a rattling story.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am aware that, in confessing to an entire ignorance of any one of the
so-called _Books of Artemas_, I place myself in a minority so small as to
be almost beneath notice. This certainly is how the publishers regard the
matter if one may judge by their ecstatically jubilant, "Artemas has
written a novel! 7s. 6d. net," on the wrapper of _A Dear Fool_ (WESTALL).
Well, I have read the novel carefully, even I trust generously, with the
unhappy result that (knowing how elusive and individual a thing is
laughter) I can hardly bring myself to say how dull I found it. But the
fact remains. It is all about nothing--a preposterous little plot for the
identification, at a wildly inhuman reception, of an anonymous dramatist,
revealed finally as the journalist hero who was nearly sacked for writing
the play's only bad notice. In my day I have met both editors and critics;
even dramatists. I don't say they were all pleasant people; many of them
were not. But--here is my point--practically every one of them had at least
sufficient of our common humanity to prevent them from behaving for one
instant as their representatives do in this book. Let us charitably leave
it at that. Probably the next man I meet will have invited apoplexy over
his enjoyment of the same pages that moved me only to an irritated
bewilderment. You never can tell.

       *       *       *       *       *

I rather think that _The Man with the Rubber Soles_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON)
is Sir ALEXANDER BANNERMAN'S firstling, at least as far as fiction is
concerned. If so, many others will share my hope that it may prove to be
the eldest of a large family. For the author has not merely the knack of
telling a good mystery story in a way that keeps one interested until the
last page is turned; he tells it in a curiously dry matter-of-fact way that
makes really startling adventures seem the sort of thing that might happen
to anybody. The story concerns the pursuit of a gang of men who are engaged
in importing forged Treasury notes on a large scale and uttering them
through skilfully organised agencies. The police and various civilians
between them--there is no super-sleuth to weary us with his machine-like
prowess--run the thing to earth, partly by skill and partly by good luck,
and the civilians in particular have a stirring time doing it. Bombs,
automatic pistols, even soldiers and a submarine, assist quite naturally in
sustaining the interest. And a pleasant little romance is really woven into
the plot, not just pushed in anyhow. Altogether _The Man with the Rubber
Soles_ is a most excellent story of its kind, a real novel because plot and
treatment are alike new, and one can safely prophesy that when Sir
ALEXANDER BANNERMAN produces his nextling he will find a large and
appreciative circle of readers waiting to welcome it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three things charmed me particularly about _Henry Elizabeth_ (HURST AND
BLACKETT), whose remarkable second name was due to the fact that he was
born in the same year as the Virgin Queen and that his father had hoped
that he too would be a girl. In the first place he became the greatest
swordsman of his age and I was thus able to add him to my fine collection
of Elizabethan heroes who have achieved this honour. What happens when two
of these champions meet in those shadowy regions of romance where all
costume novels are merged I do not know. It must be rather like the
irresistible force and the immovable object. In the second place _H.E._ (no
one could better deserve these formidable initials) was given the job of
clearing Lundy Island of its piratical tenants, and I happened to have
Lundy Island just opposite me as I read the book. It is not often that a
reviewer has the chance of checking local colour with so little pains. And
in the third place Mr. JUSTIN HUNTLY MCCARTHY informs me, on page 101, that
his hero will "gaze one day upon rivers to which the Thames should seem
little better than a pitiful rivulet." As _Henry_ never gets further from
his native Devon than London in the course of this novel I take it that
this is a delicate allusion to the possibility of a sequel. I hope it is
so, and that I shall hear of _Henry_ in days to come, after a trip or two
with RALEIGH or DRAKE, rebuilding his manor of Braginton, which was
unfortunately burnt to the ground, and settling down to plant potatoes and
tobacco in prosperity and peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the title, _Brute Gods_ (HEINEMANN), you may guess that Mr. LOUIS
WILKINSON'S new novel does not deal with homely topics in a vein of
harmless frolic. In recommending this very serious work of an expert author
and observer, I am bound to make some reservation. Unsophisticated youth,
if such there be in these days, should be kept away from the affair between
_Alec Glaive_ and _Gillian Collett_. _Alec_, a mere boy, was in a
dangerously unsettled condition when the lady crossed his path. His mother
had upset a not too happy family by eloping with a literary _poseur_; the
egoism of his father had been rendered even more oppressive and his sarcasm
even more acid thereby; and a Roman Catholic priest, intent on securing a
convert for his Order, had been plying his young mind with too exciting
conversations and too refreshing wines. Apart from external circumstances,
_Alec_ was tending to quarrel with humanity at large, and so he went the
whole hog, more in search of a desperate ideal than by way of impetuous
sin. Mr. WILKINSON treats the affair with deliberate, cold-blooded, even
cynical analysis; and his portrayal of the snobbery and humbug of the
upper-middle class, social and intellectual, in which his creatures move is
searching and disturbing. But, I ask myself, are people really like that?
Or rather are there enough of these unnaturals, extremists, moral
Bolshevists or whatever you like to call them, to justify their
presentation as a modern type? Always an optimist, I think not; and I
notice that the author gives a no less clever and a much more convincing
impression of the normal, settled and pleasant characters who are
incidental to the plot. Make for yourself the acquaintance of the charming
_Wilfred Vail_ and the most amusing and seductive Cockney artiste, _Betty
Barnfield_, and you will admit, however pessimistic your views, that there
may be something in mine.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: ROMANCE AND PROSE.




       *       *       *       *       *


    "The Czecho-Slovaks were greeted this afternoon by a committee of
    Vancouver ladies, representing the Red Cross Society. The war-worn
    veterans were presented with a package containing cigarettes, an orange
    and a chocolate bar, in recognition of valuable services rendered the
    Allied cause."--_Canadian Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *


    Prince George has been enjoying the sights of Christiania and its
    beautiful surroundings."--_Morning Paper._

He should now visit Stockholm and give Norway a turn.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Gentleman, no ties, will undertake any mission to anywhere."--
    _Provincial Paper._

But surely not where neck-wear is _de rigueur_.

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