It was from now on that I began to be really interested in this problem
of Bobbie's married life. Of course, one's always mildly interested in
one's friends' marriages, hoping they'll turn out well and all that;
but this was different. The average man isn't like Bobbie, and the
average girl isn't like Mary. It was that old business of the immovable
mass and the irresistible force. There was Bobbie, ambling gently
through life, a dear old chap in a hundred ways, but undoubtedly a
chump of the first water.
And there was Mary, determined that he shouldn't be a chump. And
Nature, mind you, on Bobbie's side. When Nature makes a chump like
dear old Bobbie, she's proud of him, and doesn't want her handiwork
disturbed. She gives him a sort of natural armour to protect him
against outside interference. And that armour is shortness of memory.
Shortness of memory keeps a man a chump, when, but for it, he might
cease to be one. Take my case, for instance. I'm a chump. Well, if I
had remembered half the things people have tried to teach me during my
life, my size in hats would be about number nine. But I didn't. I
forgot them. And it was just the same with Bobbie.
For about a week, perhaps a bit more, the recollection of that quiet
little domestic evening bucked him up like a tonic. Elephants, I read
somewhere, are champions at the memory business, but they were fools to
Bobbie during that week. But, bless you, the shock wasn't nearly big
enough. It had dinted the armour, but it hadn't made a hole in it.
Pretty soon he was back at the old game.
It was pathetic, don't you know. The poor girl loved him, and she was
frightened. It was the thin edge of the wedge, you see, and she knew
it. A man who forgets what day he was married, when he's been married
one year, will forget, at about the end of the fourth, that he's
married at all. If she meant to get him in hand at all, she had got to
do it now, before he began to drift away.
I saw that clearly enough, and I tried to make Bobbie see it, when he
was by way of pouring out his troubles to me one afternoon. I can't
remember what it was that he had forgotten the day before, but it was
something she had asked him to bring home for her--it may have been a
"It's such a little thing to make a fuss about," said Bobbie. "And she
knows that it's simply because I've got such an infernal memory about
everything. I can't remember anything. Never could."
He talked on for a while, and, just as he was going, he pulled out a
couple of sovereigns.
"Oh, by the way," he said.
"What's this for?" I asked, though I knew.
"I owe it you."
"How's that?" I said.
"Why, that bet on Tuesday. In the billiard-room. Murray and Brown were
playing a hundred up, and I gave you two to one that Brown would win,
and Murray beat him by twenty odd."
"So you do remember some things?" I said.
He got quite excited. Said that if I thought he was the sort of rotter
who forgot to pay when he lost a bet, it was pretty rotten of me after
knowing him all these years, and a lot more like that.
"Subside, laddie," I said.
Then I spoke to him like a father.
"What you've got to do, my old college chum," I said, "is to pull
yourself together, and jolly quick, too. As things are shaping, you're
due for a nasty knock before you know what's hit you. You've got to
make an effort. Don't say you can't. This two quid business shows that,
even if your memory is rocky, you can remember some things. What you've
got to do is to see that wedding anniversaries and so on are included
in the list. It may be a brainstrain, but you can't get out of it."
"I suppose you're right," said Bobbie. "But it beats me why she thinks
such a lot of these rotten little dates. What's it matter if I forgot
what day we were married on or what day she was born on or what day the
cat had the measles? She knows I love her just as much as if I were a
memorizing freak at the halls."
"That's not enough for a woman," I said. "They want to be shown. Bear
that in mind, and you're all right. Forget it, and there'll be
He chewed the knob of his stick.
"Women are frightfully rummy," he said gloomily.
"You should have thought of that before you married one," I said.
- onkel janus
- Gnu Barankin
- Ichabod Crane