The Circle, February 1909
Ukridge Gives Me Advice
OURS after—or so it seemed to me—we reached the spot at which our ways divided. We stopped, and I felt as if I had been suddenly cast back into the workaday world from some distant and pleasanter planet. I think Phyllis must have had something of the same sensation, for we both became on the instant intensely practical and businesslike.
“But about your father,” I said, briskly. I was not even holding her hand.
“I’m afraid he wouldn’t dream of it.”
“You can’t persuade him?”
“I can in most things, but not in this. You see, even if nothing had happened, he wouldn’t like to lose me just yet, because of Norah.”
“My sister. She’s going to be married in October. I wonder if we shall ever be as happy as they will.”
I laughed scornfully.
“Happy! They will be miserable compared with us. Not that I know who the man is.”
“Why, Tom, of course. Do you mean to say you really didn’t know?”
“Tom! Tom Chase?”
“Well, I’m—hanged,” I said. “When I think of the torments I’ve been through because of that wretched man, and all for nothing, I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t you like Tom?”
“Very much. I always did. But I was awfully jealous of him. I heard you singing duets after dinner, once. I drew the worst conclusions.”
“When was that? What were you doing there?”
“It was shortly after Ukridge had got on your father’s nerves, and nipped our acquaintance in the bud. I used to come every night to the hedge opposite your drawing-room window and brood there by the hour. You’ll probably find most of the bark scorched off the tree I leaned against.”
“Poor old man! It’s all over now, isn’t it? But about father,” she continued. “What are we to do?”
“He objects to me.”
“He’s perfectly furious with you.”
“But I saved his life—at the risk of my own. Why, I believe I’ve got a legal claim on him. Who ever heard of a man having his life saved and not being delighted when his preserver wanted to marry his daughter? Your father is striking at the very root of the short-story writer’s little earnings. He mustn’t be allowed to do it.”
“Again!” I said.
“Say it again. Do, please. Now.”
“Very well. Jerry!”
“It was the first time you had called me by my Christian name. I don’t suppose you’ve the remotest notion how splendid it sounds when you say it. There is something poetical, almost holy, about it.”
“Do be sensible. Don’t you see how serious this is? We can’t marry without father’s consent.”
“Why not?” I said, not having a marked respect for the Professor’s whims. “Gretna GreenA traditional destination for eloping couples, since it was just over the border into Scotland, where minors could marry without parental consent is out of date, but there are registrars.”
“I hate the very idea of a registrar,” she said, with decision. “Besides——”
“Poor father would never get over it. We’ve always been such friends. If I married against his wishes, he would—oh, you know. Not let me come near him again, and not write to me. And he would hate it all the time he was doing it. He would be bored to death without me.”
“Anybody would,” I said.
“Because, you see, Norah has never been quite the same. She has spent such a lot of her time on visits to people that she and father don’t understand each other so well as he and I do. She would try and be nice to him but she wouldn’t know him as I do. And, besides, she will be with him such a little, now she’s going to be married.”
“But, look here,” I said, “this is absurd. You say your father would never see you again, and so on, if you married me. Why? It’s nonsense. It isn’t as if I were a sort of social outcast. We were the best of friends till that man Hawk gave me away like that.”
“I know. But he’s very obstinate about some things. You see, he thinks the whole thing has made him look ridiculous.”
“You don’t think,” I said, “that Time, the Great Healer, and so on——? He won’t feel kindlier disposed toward me—say in a month’s time?”
“Of course, he might,” said Phyllis; but she spoke doubtfully.
“He strikes me, from what I have seen of him, as a man of moods. I might do something one of these days which would completely alter his views. We will hope for the best.”
“About telling father——?”
“Need we tell him?” I asked.
“Yes, we must. I couldn’t bear to think that I was keeping it from him. I don’t think I’ve ever kept anything from him in my life. Nothing bad, I mean.”
“You count this among your darker crimes, then?”
“I was looking at it from father’s point of view. He will be awfully angry. I don’t know how I shall begin telling him.”
“Good heavens!” I cried, “you surely don’t think I’m going to let you do that! Keep safely out of the way while you tell him? Not much. I’m coming back with you now, and we’ll break the bad news together.”
“No, not to-night. He may be tired, and rather cross. We had better wait till to-morrow. You might speak to him in the morning.”
“Where shall I find him?”
“He is certain to go to the beach before breakfast, to bathe.”
“Good. To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day.John Dryden, Imitation of Horace, bk. III I’ll be there.”
“Ukridge,” I said, when I got back, “can you give me audience for a brief space? I want your advice.”
This stirred him like a trumpet blast. When a man is in the habit of giving unsolicited counsel to every one he meets, it is as invigorating as an electric shock to him to be asked for it spontaneously.
“What’s up, old horse?” he asked, eagerly. “I’ll tell you what to do. Get on to it. Bang it out. Here, let’s go into the garden.”
I approved of this. I can always talk more readily in the dark, and I did not wish to be interrupted by the sudden entrance of the Hired Retainer or Mrs. Beale. We walked down to the paddock. Ukridge lit a cigar.
“I’m in love, Ukridge,” I said.
“More, I’m engaged.”
A huge hand whistled through the darkness and smote me heavily between the shoulder blades.
“Thanks,” I said, “that felt congratulatory.”
“By Jove, old boy, I wish you luck! Best thing in the world for you. Never knew what happiness was till I married. A man wants a helpmeet——”
“And this man,” I said, “seems likely to go on wanting. That’s where I need your advice. I’m engaged to Miss Derrick.”
“Miss Derrick?” He spoke as if he hardly knew whom I meant.
“You can’t have forgotten her! Good heavens, what eyes some men have! Why, if I’d only seen her once I should have remembered her all my life.”
“I know now. She came to dinner here with her father, that fat little buffer.”
“As you were careful to call him at the time. Thereby starting all the trouble.”
“You fished him out of the water afterward.”
“Why, it’s a perfect romance, old horse. It’s like the stories you read.”
“And write. But they all end happily. ‘There is none, my brave young preserver, to whom I would more willingly entrust my daughter’s happiness.’ Unfortunately, in my little drama, the heavy father seems likely to forget his cue.”
“The old man won’t give his consent?”
“But why? What’s the matter with you? You fished him out of the water.”
“After previously chucking him in.”
“At any rate, by proxy.”
I explained. Ukridge, I regret to say, laughed.
“You vagabond!” he said. “ ’Pon my word, old horse, to look at you, one would never have thought you’d have had it in you.”
“I can’t help looking respectable.”
“What are you going to do about it? The old man’s got it up against you good and strong, there’s no doubt of that.”
“That’s where I wanted your advice. You’re a man of resource. What would you do, if you were in my place?”
Ukridge tapped me impressively on the shoulder.
“Marmaduke,” he said, “there’s one thing that’ll carry you through any mess.”
“And that is——?”
“Cheek, my boy, cheek. Gall. Why, take my case. I never told you how I came to marry, did I? I thought not. Well, it was this way. You’ve heard us mention Millie’s Aunt Elizabeth—what? Well, then, when I tell you that she was Millie’s nearest relative, and it was her consent I had to gather, you’ll see that it wasn’t a walkover.”
“Well?” I said.
“First time I saw Millie was in a first-class carriage on the Underground. I’d got a third-class ticket, by the way. We weren’t alone. It was five a side. But she sat opposite me, and I fell in love with her there and then. We both got out at South Kensington. I followed her. She went to a house in Thurloe Square. I waited outside, and thought it over. I had got to get into that house, and make her acquaintance. So I rang the bell. ‘Is Lady Lichenhall at home?’ I asked. You note the artfulness? My asking for Lady Lichenhall made ’em think I was one of the Upper Ten—what?”
“How were you dressed?” I could not help asking.
“Oh, it was one of my frock-coat days. I’d been to see a man about tutoring his son. There was nothing the matter with my appearance. ‘No,’ said the servant, ‘nobody of that name lives here. This is Lady Lakenheath’s house.’ So, you see, I had luck at the start, because the two names were a bit alike. Well, I got the servant to show me in, somehow, and, once in, you can wager I talked for all I was worth. Kept up a flow of conversation about being misdirected, and coming to the wrong house, and so on. Went away, and called a few days later. Called regularly. Met ’em at every theater they went to, and bowed, and finally got away with Millie before her aunt could tell what was happening or who I was, or what I was doing, or anything.”
“And what’s the moral?” I said.
“Why, go in hard. Rush ’em. Bustle ’em. Don’t give ’em a moment’s rest.”
“Don’t play the goose game?” I said, with that curious thrill we feel when somebody’s independent view of a matter coincides with one’s own.
“That’s it. Don’t play the goose game. Don’t give ’em time to think. Why, if I’d given Millie’s aunt time to think, where should we have been? Not at Lyme Regis together, I’ll bet.”
“Ukridge,” I said, “you inspire me. You would inspire a caterpillar. I will go to the Professor—I was going anyhow—but now I shall go aggressively, and bustle him. I will surprise a father’s blessing out of him, if I have to do it with a crowbar!”
I Ask Papa
REVIEWING the matter later, I see that I made a poor choice of time and place. But at the moment this did not strike me. It is a simple thing, I reflected, for a man to pass another by haughtily and without recognition, when they meet on dry land, but when the said man, being, it should be remembered, an indifferent swimmer, is accosted in the water, and out of his depth, the feat becomes a hard one.
When, therefore, having undressed on the Cob on the following morning, I spied in the distance, as I was about to dive, the gray head of the Professor, bobbing on the face of the waters, I did not hesitate. I plunged in and swam rapidly toward him.
His face was turned in the opposite direction when I came up with him, and it was soon evident that he had not observed my approach. For when, treading water easily in his immediate rear, I wished him good-morning, in my most conciliatory tones, he stood not upon the order of his“Stand not upon the order of your going” Macbeth, III, iv sinking but went under like so much pig iron. I waited courteously until he rose to the surface once more, when I repeated my remark.
He expelled the last remnant of water from his mouth with a wrathful splutter and cleared his eyes with the back of his hand.
“The water is delightfully warm,” I said.
“Oh, it’s you!” said he; and I could not cheat myself into believing that he spoke cordially.
“You are swimming splendidly this morning,” I said, feeling that an ounce of flattery is often worth a pound of rhetoric. “If,” I added, “you will allow me to say so.”
“I will not,” he snapped. “I——” Here a small wave noticing that his mouth was open walked in. “I wish,” he resumed, warmly, “as I said in me letter, to have nothing to do with you. I consider ye’ve behaved in a manner that can only be described as abominable, and I will thank ye to leave me alone.”
“But, allow me——”
“I will not allow ye, sir. I will allow ye nothing. Is it not enough to make me the laughing-stock, the butt, sir, of this town, without pursuing me in this manner when I wish to enjoy a quiet swim?”
His remarks, which I have placed on paper as if they were continuous and uninterrupted, were punctuated in reality by a series of gasps and puffings as he received and ejected the successors of the wave he had swallowed at the beginning of our little chat. The art of conducting bright conversation while in the water is not given to every swimmer. This he seemed to realize, for, as if to close the interview, he proceeded to make his way as quickly as he could toward the shore. Using my best stroke I shot beyond him, and turned, treading water as before.
“But, Professor,” I said, “one moment.”
“Not one,” he spluttered. “Go away, sir. I will have nothing to say to you.”
“I shan’t keep you a minute.”
He had been trying all this while to pass me and escape to the shore, but I kept always directly in front of him. He now gave up the attempt and came to a standstill.
“Well?” he said.
Without preamble I gave out the text of the address I was about to deliver to him.
“I love your daughter Phyllis, Mr. Derrick. She loves me. In fact, we are engaged,” I said.
He went under as if he had been seized with a cramp. It was a little trying, having to argue with a man of whom one could not predict with certainty that at any given moment he would not be under water. It tended to spoil one’s flow of eloquence. The best of arguments is useless if the listener suddenly disappears in the middle of it.
However, I persevered.
“Mr. Derrick,” I said, as his head emerged, “you are naturally surprised.”
“You—you—you—you impudent scoundrel!”
I said, winningly: “Mr. Derrick, cannot we let bygones be bygones?”
From his expression I gathered that we could not.
I continued. I was under the unfortunate necessity of having to condense my remarks. Ere long, swallowing water at his present rate, the Professor must inevitably become waterlogged. It behooved me to be succinct.
“I have loved your daughter,” I said rapidly, “ever since I first saw her. I learned last night that she loves me. But she will not marry me without your consent. Stretch your arms out straight from the shoulders and fill your lungs well, and you can’t sink. So I have come this morning to ask for your consent. I know we have not been on the best of terms lately.”
“For Heaven’s sake, don’t try to talk. Your one chance of remaining on the surface is to keep your lungs well filled. The fault,” I said, generously, “was mine. But when you have heard my explanation I am sure you will forgive me. There, I told you so.”
He reappeared some few feet to the left. I swam up, and resumed.
“When you left us so abruptly after our little dinner party you put me in a very awkward position. I was desperately in love with your daughter, and as long as you were in the frame of mind in which you left I could not hope to find an opportunity of telling her so. You see what a fix I was in, don’t you? I thought for hours and hours to try and find some means of bringing about a reconciliation. You wouldn’t believe how hard I thought. At last, seeing you fishing one morning when I was on the Cob, it struck me all of a sudden that the very best way would be to arrange a little boating accident. I was confident that I could rescue you all right.”
“You young blackguard!”
He managed to slip past me, and made for the shore again.
“Strike out—but hear me,” I said, swimming by his side. “Look at the thing from the standpoint of a philosopher. The fact that the rescue was arranged oughtn’t really to influence you in the least. You didn’t know it at the time, therefore, relatively it was not, and you were genuinely saved from a watery grave.”
I felt that I was becoming a shade too metaphysical, but I could not help it. What I wanted to point out was that I had certainly pulled him out of the water, and that the fact that I had caused him to be pushed in had nothing to do with the case. Either a man is a gallant rescuer or he is not a gallant rescuer. There is no middle course. I had saved his life, for he would have drowned if he had been left to himself, and was consequently entitled to his gratitude. And that was all that there was to be said about it.
These things I endeavored to make plain to him as we swam along. But he reached the beach an unconvinced man.
We faced one another, dripping.
“Then may I consider,” I said, “that your objections are removed? We have your consent?”
He stamped angrily, and his bare foot came down on a small but singularly sharp pebble. With a brief exclamation he seized the foot with one hand and hopped. While hopping he delivered his ultimatum. Probably this is the only instance on record of a father adopting this attitude in dismissing a suitor.
“You may not,” he said. “You may not consider any such thing. My objections were never more—absolute. You detain me in the water till I am blue, sir—blue with cold, in order to listen to the most preposterous and impudent nonsense I ever heard.”
This was unjust. If he had heard me attentively from the first, and avoided interruptions, and not behaved like a submarine, we should have got through our little business in half the time. We might both have been dry and clothed by now.
I endeavored to point this out to him.
“Don’t talk to me, sir,” he roared, hobbling off across the beach to his dressing-tent. “I will not listen to you. I will have nothing to do with you. I consider you impudent, sir.”
“I am sure it was unintentional, Mr. Derrick.”
“Isch!” he said—being the first occasion and the last on which I ever heard that remarkable word proceed from the mouth of man.
And he vanished into his tent, while I, wading in once more, swam back to the Cob, and put on my clothes.
And so home, as Pepys would have said, to breakfast, feeling depressed.
AS I stood with Ukridge in the fowl run on the morning following my maritime conversation with the Professor there appeared a man carrying an envelope.
Ukridge, who by this time saw, as Calverley almost said, “under every hat a dun,”Charles Stuart Calverly’s poem “In the Gloaming” ends: As I sit alone at present, dreaming darkly of a Dun. and imagined that no envelope could contain anything but a small account, softly and silently vanished away, leaving me to interview the enemy.
“Mr. Garnet, sir?” said the foe.
I recognized him. He was Professor Derrick’s gardener. Was there a father’s blessing enclosed in the envelope which was being held out to me?
I opened the envelope. No. Father’s blessings were absent. The letter was in the third person. Professor Derrick begged to inform Mr. Garnet that, by defeating Mr. Saul Potter, he had qualified for the final round of the Lyme Regis Golf Tournament, in which, he understood, Mr. Garnet was to be his opponent. If it would be convenient for Mr. Garnet to play off the match on the present afternoon, Professor Derrick would be obliged if he would be at the club house at half-past two. If this hour and day were unsuitable, would he kindly arrange others. The bearer would wait.
The bearer did wait, and then trudged off with a note, beautifully written in the third person, in which Mr. Garnet, after numerous compliments and thanks, begged to inform Professor Derrick that he would be at the club house at the hour mentioned.
“And,” I added—to myself, not in the note—“I will give him such a licking that he’ll brain himself with a cleek.”
For I was not pleased with the Professor. I was conscious of a malicious joy at the prospect of snatching the prize from him. I knew he had set his heart on winning the tournament this year. To be runner-up two years in succession stimulates the desire for the first place. It would be doubly bitter to him to be beaten by a newcomer, after the absence of his rival, the Colonel, had awakened hope in him. And I knew I could do it. Even allowing for bad luck—and I am never a very unlucky golfer—I could rely almost with certainty on crushing the man.
“And I’ll do it,” I said to Bob, who had trotted up.
I often make Bob the recipient of my confidences. He listens appreciatively, and never interrupts. And he never has grievances of his own. If there is one person I dislike it is the man who tries to air his grievances when I wish to air mine.
“Bob,” I said, running his tail through my fingers, “listen to me. If I am in form this afternoon, and I feel in my bones that I shall be, I shall nurse the Professor. I shall play with him. Do you understand the principles of match play at golf, Robert? You score by holes, not strokes. There are eighteen holes. I shall toy with the Professor, Bob. I shall let him get ahead, and then catch him up. I shall go ahead myself, and let him catch me up. I shall race him neck and neck till the very end. Then, when his hair has turned white with the strain, and he’s lost a couple of stone in weight, and his eyes are starting out of his head, I shall go ahead, and beat him by a hole. I’ll teach him, Robert. And when it’s all over, and he’s torn all his hair out, and smashed all his clubs, I shall go and commit suicide off the Cob. Because, you see, if I can’t marry Phyllis, I shan’t have any use for life.”
Bob wagged his tail cheerfully.
“I mean it,” I said, rolling him on his back and punching him on the chest till his breathing became stertorous. “You don’t see the sense of it, I know. But then you’ve got none of the finer feelings. You’re a jolly good dog, Robert, but you’re a rank materialist. Bones and cheese, and potatoes with gravy over them, make you happy. You don’t know what it is to be in love. You’d better get right side up now, or you’ll have apoplexy.”
It has been my aim in the course of this narrative to extenuate nothing, nor set down aught in maliceOthello, V, ii. Like the gentleman who played euchre with the heathen Chinee, I state but the factsSee endnote for link to Bret Harte’s poem “The Heathen Chinee” or “Plain Language from Truthful James” (1870). I do not, therefore, slur over my scheme for disturbing the Professor’s peace of mind. I am not always good and noble. I am the hero of this story, but I have my off moments.
I felt ruthless toward the Professor. I cannot plead ignorance of the golfer’s point of view as an excuse for my plottings. I knew that to one whose soul is in the game, as the Professor’s was, the agony of being just beaten in an important match exceeds in bitterness all other agonies.
And yet I was adamant.
The Professor was waiting for me at the club house, and greeted me with a cold and stately inclination of the head.
“Beautiful day for golf,” I observed, in my gay, chatty manner.
He bowed in silence.
“Very well,” I thought. “Wait. Just wait.”
“Miss Derrick is well, I hope?” I added aloud.
That drew him. He started. His aspect became doubly forbidding.
“Miss Derrick is perfectly well, sir, I thank you.”
“And you? No bad effect, I hope, from your dip yesterday?”
“Mr. Garnet, I came here for golf, not conversation,” he said.
We made it so. I drove off from the first tee. It was a splendid drive. I should not say so if there were any one else to say so for me. Modesty would forbid. But, as there is no one, I must repeat the statement. It was one of the best drives of my experience. The ball flashed through the air, took the bunker with a dozen feet to spare, and rolled onto the green. I had felt all along that I should be in form. Unless my opponent was equally above himself he was a lost man.
The excellence of my drive had not been without its effect on the Professor. I could see that he was not confident. He waggled his club over his ball as if he were going to perform a conjuring trick. Then he struck, and topped it.
The ball rolled two yards.
He looked at it in silence. Then he looked at me, also in silence.
I was gazing seaward.
When I looked round he was getting to work with a brassie.
This time he hit the bunker and rolled back. He repeated this maneuver twice.
“Hard luck!” I murmured, sympathetically, on the third occasion, thereby going as near to being slain with an iron as it has ever been my lot to go. Your true golfer is easily roused in times of misfortune; and there was a red gleam in the eye the Professor turned to me.
“I shall pick my ball up,” he growled.
We walked on in silence to the second tee.
He did the second hole in four, which was good. I did it in three, which, unfortunately for him, was better.
I won the third hole.
I won the fourth hole.
I won the fifth hole.
I glanced at my opponent from the corner of my eye.
The man was suffering. Beads of perspiration stood out on his forehead.
His play had become wilder and wilder at each hole, in arithmetical progression. If he had been a plow he could hardly have turned up more soil. The imagination recoiled from the thought of what he would be doing in another half hour if he deteriorated at his present speed.
A feeling of calm and content stole over me. I was not sorry for him. All the viciousness of my nature was uppermost in me. Once, when he missed the ball clean at the fifth tee, his eye met mine, and we stood staring at each other for a full half minute without moving. I believe if I had smiled then he would have attacked me without hesitation. There is a type of golfer who really almost ceases to be human under stress of the wild agony of a series of foozles.
The sixth hole involves the player in a somewhat tricky piece of cross-country work. There is a nasty ditch to be negotiated. Many an optimist has been reduced to blank pessimism by that ditch. “All hope abandon, ye who enter here”From H. F. Cary’s 1814 English translation of Dante’s Inferno might be written on a notice board over it.
The Professor “entered” there. The unhappy man sent his ball into its very jaws. And then madness seized him. The merciful laws of golf, framed by kindly men who do not wish to see the asylums of Great Britain overcrowded, enact that in such a case the player may take his ball and throw it over his shoulder, the same to count as one stroke. But vaulting ambitionMacbeth, I, viii is apt to try and drive out from the ditch, thinking thereby to win through without losing a stroke. This way madness lies“O, that way madness lies”; King Lear, III, iv.
It was a grisly sight to see the Professor, head and shoulders above the ditch, hewing at his obstinate HaskellThe standard early-twentieth-century golf ball design of a core wound with rubber thread was invented in 1898 by Coburn Haskell..
“Sixteen!” said the Professor at last, between his teeth. Then, having made one or two further comments, he stooped and picked up his ball.
“I give you this hole,” he said.
We walked on.
I won the seventh hole.
I won the eighth hole.
The ninth we halved for in the black depth of my soul I had formed a plan of fiendish subtlety. I intended to allow him to win—with extreme labor—eight holes in succession.
Then, when hope was once more strong in him, I would win the last and he would go mad.
I watched him carefully as we trudged on. Emotions chased one another across his face. When he won the tenth hole he merely refrained from oaths. When he won the eleventh a sort of sullen pleasure showed in his face. It was at the thirteenth that I detected the first dawning of hope. From then onward it grew. When, with a sequence of shocking shots, he took the seventeenth hole in eight he was in a parlous condition. His run of success had engendered within him a desire for conversation. He wanted, as it were, to flap his wings and crow. I could see dignity wrestling with talkativeness.
I gave him a lead.
“You have got back your form, now,” I said.
Talkativeness had it. Dignity retired hurt. Speech came from him with a rush. When he brought off an excellent drive from the eighteenth tee he seemed to forget everything.
“Me dear boy——” he began, and stopped abruptly in some confusion. Silence once more brooded over us as we played ourselves up the fairway and on to the green.
He was on the green in four. I reached it in three. His sixth stroke took him out.
I putted carefully to the very mouth of the hole.
I walked up to my ball and paused. I looked at the Professor. He looked at me.
“Go on,” he said, hoarsely.
Suddenly a wave of compassion flooded over me. What right had I to torture the man like this? He had not behaved well to me, but in the main it was my fault. In his place I should have acted in precisely the same way. In a flash I made up my mind.
“Professor,” I said.
“Go on,” he repeated.
“That looks a simple shot,” I said, eying him steadily, “but I might easily miss it.”
“And then you would win the championship.”
He dabbed at his forehead with a wet ball of a handkerchief.
“It would be very pleasant for you after getting so near it the last two years.”
“Go on,” he said, for the third time. But there was a note of hesitation in his voice.
“Sudden joy,” I said, “would almost certainly make me miss it.”
We looked at each other. He had the golf fever in his eyes.
“If,” I said slowly, lifting my putter, “you were to give your consent to my marriage with Phyllis——”
He looked from me to the ball, from the ball to me, and back again to the ball. It was very near the hole.
“I love her,” I said, “and she loves me. . . . I shall be a rich man from the day I marry . . .”
His eyes were still fixed on the ball.
“Why not?” I said.
He looked up, and burst into a roar of laughter.
“You young divil,” said he, smiting his thigh, “you young divil, you’ve beaten me.”
I swung my putter and drove the ball far beyond the green.
“On the contrary,” I said, “you have beaten me.”
I left the Professor at the club house, and raced back to the farm. I wanted to pour my joys into a sympathetic ear. Ukridge, I knew, would offer that same sympathetic ear.
“Ukridge,” I shouted.
I flung open the dining-room door. Nobody.
I went into the drawing-room. It was empty.
I drew the garden and his bedroom. He was not in either.
“He must have gone for a stroll,” I said.
I rang the bell.
The Hired Retainer appeared, calm and imperturbable as ever.
“Oh, where is Mr. Ukridge, Beale?”
“Mr. Ukridge, sir,” said the Hired Retainer, nonchalantly, “has gone.”
“Yes, sir. Mr. Ukridge and Mrs. Ukridge went away together by the three o’clock train.”
(To be concluded)
Gretna Green: A traditional destination for eloping couples, since it was just over the border into Scotland, where minors could marry without parental consent
To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day: from John Dryden, Imitation of Horace, bk. III
stood not upon the order of his: “Stand not upon the order of your going”: Macbeth, III, iv
Calverley almost said, “under every hat a dun”: Charles Stuart Calverly’s poem “In the Gloaming” ends: As I sit alone at present, dreaming darkly of a Dun.
extenuate nothing, nor set down aught in malice: Othello, V, ii
the gentleman who played euchre with the heathen Chinee, I state but the facts: From Bret Harte’s poem “The Heathen Chinee” or “Plain Language from Truthful James” (1870)
“All hope abandon, ye who enter here”: From H. F. Cary’s 1814 English translation of Dante’s Inferno
vaulting ambition: Macbeth, I, viii
This way madness lies: “O, that way madness lies”; King Lear, III, iv
Haskell: The standard early- and mid-twentieth-century golf ball design of a core wound with rubber thread was invented in 1898 by Coburn Haskell.
—Notes by Neil Midkiff