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- 112 ( 2012 .)
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THE SPORTSMEN.

[The invasion of sports by an incongruous spirit of fastidiousness and luxury leads us to shirk the laborious side of sport.Bailys Magazine.]

[The scene is the billiard room at Oldschool Towers. A pleasant wood-fire is glowing in the grate. The time is afternoon. In front of the fire is a table with a decanter and syphons, and a box of cigars. In easy chairs on either side of the table are reclining Lord Adamant and the Hon. Jack Hardman.]

Lord A. Decent cigars, these.

Jack. Top-hole. I havent a word to say against Oldschool as a host, as far as the indoors arrangements are concerned. But when it comes to the shooting (Shudders rcminiscently.)

Lord A. My word, yes. (Shivers.)

Jack. Hes a good old chap, but I cant stick his mediaeval notions of sport. (Impressively.) I simplycannotstickthem.

Lord A. We were wise to cut it when we did. I suppose he will be stuffy about it, but one must-bear with him, I suppose. My dear old boy, youll hardly believe me, but when I got to my stick at that last drive I found that I was expected to stand in an absolute puddle!

Jack. Hasnt Oldschool ever heard of a cold in the head? Doesnt he know what coughs are?

Lord A. (mournfully, as who should say Ichabod). Its the same everywhere. Pon my word, these men seem to think ones made of leather. At Aes-Triplexs the other day, so young Putty-Smith was telling me, there was no end of unpleasantness simply because some fellows whod been put in a warm corner didnt see the fun of getting gun-headache, and, instead of shooting, made up a four and played Bridge under the hedge.

Jack. Theres a place I know where they give you a cold lunch.

Lord A. (incredulously). Rot!

Jack. Fact, really. And object if your loader reads novels to you while youre waiting.

Lord A. I dont see the point of all this beastly ruggedness.

Jack. Another place I know you have to walk between the beats. No motors. Oh, no.

Lord A. Its the unreasonableness of these men that I object to. Im perfectly willing to shoot. No man more so. But Im not a sort of beastly mixture of steel and indiarubber. Take a thing that happened to me at old Roburs last year, for instance. He wanted me to walk bang across a field of roots. It was early in the morning, mark you, and the dew wasnt off them. I put it to him straight. I am as fond of sport as any man, I said. But, dash it all, Im not a dare devil.

Jack. It beats me why they dont have neat gravel paths in these turnip-fields. Not necessarily right across them, if they didnt wish it. One wouldnt mind stretching a point, and going a bit out of ones way.

Lord A. No. One always wants to be reasonable.

Jack. Seen that new shooting-stick everyones talking about?

Lord A. The Compacto-Sybaritico? Rather! Ordered one last week. Always have wanted a back to lean against.

Jack. And the padding.

Lord A. And the place at the side of the chair for a long glass and a syphon.

Jack. And the foot-rest.

Lord A. Wonder who invents these things. Dashed clever feller, whoever he was. Made a fortune, I shouldnt wonder.

Jack. Talking of inventions, chap I know has a great idea of a portable stove. Fill it up with coke or something before you start, and your loader wheels it about for you.

Lord A. Ought to be money in that. Cold feet are the curse of sport.

Jack. Lots of men use those foot-warmers they give you in trains. Theyre all right as long as the water keeps warm. Hullo, heres Flabley. You chucked it, too, Flabley?

Tom Flabley (pulling up another chair, and sinking into it). Rather. Bit of skin off my left little toe. Thought Id better get back and rest it.

Lord A. Only thing to do. Worst thing possible to give a thing like that a chance. Where are the others ?

Flabley. Gutlesse and De Genneris left when I did. Nasty East wind just sprung up. Oldschools still at it.

Lord A. Really? Wonderful old Johnny!

Jack. Stonishing chap!

Lord A. Match?

Jack. Thanks.

Flabley. Decent cigars, these.

(Scene closes.)

Copyright (gmk), © 1996-2012. 4 1996 .