[“The invasion of sports by an incongruous spirit of fastidiousness and
luxury leads us to shirk the laborious side of sport.”—Baily’s 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
Lord A. Decent cigars, these.
Jack. Top-hole. I haven’t 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. He’s a good old chap, but I can’t stick his mediaeval notions of
sport. (Impressively.) I simply—cannot—stick—them.
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, you’ll
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. Hasn’t Oldschool ever heard of a cold in the head? Doesn’t he know
what coughs are?
Lord A. (mournfully, as who should say “Ichabod”). It’s the same
everywhere. ’Pon my word, these men seem to think one’s made of leather. At
Aes-Triplex’s the other day, so young Putty-Smith was telling me, there was
no end of unpleasantness simply because some fellows who’d been put in a
warm corner didn’t see the fun of getting gun-headache, and, instead of
shooting, made up a four and played Bridge under the hedge.
Jack. There’s 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
Lord A. I don’t see the point of all this beastly ruggedness.
Jack. Another place I know you have to walk between the beats. No motors.
Lord A. It’s the unreasonableness of these men that I object to. I’m
perfectly willing to shoot. No man more so. But I’m not a sort of beastly
mixture of steel and indiarubber. Take a thing that happened to me at old
Robur’s 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 wasn’t off
them. I put it to him straight. “I am as fond of sport as any man,” I said.
“But, dash it all, I’m not a dare devil.”
Jack. It beats me why they don’t have neat gravel paths in these
turnip-fields. Not necessarily right across them, if they didn’t wish it.
One wouldn’t mind stretching a point, and going a bit out of one’s way.
Lord A. No. One always wants to be reasonable.
Jack. Seen that new shooting-stick everyone’s 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
Jack. And the foot-rest.
Lord A. Wonder who invents these things. Dashed clever feller, whoever he
was. Made a fortune, I shouldn’t 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. They’re
all right as long as the water keeps warm. Hullo, here’s 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 I’d 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. Oldschool’s still at it.
Lord A. Really? Wonderful old Johnny!
Jack. ’Stonishing chap!
Lord A. Match?
Flabley. Decent cigars, these.