OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
August 11, 1894.
LORD ORMONT'S MATE AND MATEY'S AMINTA.
By G***GE M*R*D*TH.
And now the climax comes not with tongue-lolling sheep-fleece wolves, ears on top remorselessly pricked for slaughter of the bleating imitated lamb, here a fang pointing to nethermost pit not of stomach but of Acheron, tail waving in derision of wool-bearers whom the double-rowed desiring mouth soon shall grip, food for mamma-wolf and baby-wolf, papa-wolf looking on, licking chaps expectant of what shall remain; and up goes the clamour of flocks over the country-side, and up goes howling of shepherds shamefully tricked by Æsop-fable artifice or doggish dereliction of primary duty; for a watch has been set through which the wolf-enemy broke paws on the prowl; and the King feels this, and the Government, a slab-faced jubber-mubber of contending punies, party-voters to the front, conscience lagging how far behind no man can tell, and the country forgotten, a lout dragging his chaw-bacon hobnails like a flask-fed snail housed safely, he thinks, in unbreakable shell soon to be broken, and no man's fault, while the slow country sinks to the enemy, ships bursting, guns jammed, and a dull shadow of defeat on a war-office drifting to the tide-way of unimagined back-stops on a lumpy cricket-field of national interests. But this was a climax revealed to the world. The Earl was deaf to it. Lady Charlotte dumbed it surprisingly. Change the spelling, put a for u and n for b in the dumbed, and you have the way Morsfield mouthed it, and Matey swimming with Browny full in the Harwich tide; head under heels up down they go in Old Ocean, a glutton of such embraces, lapping softly on a pair of white ducks tar-stained that very morning and no mistake.
"I have you fast!" cried Matey.
"Two and two's four," said Browny. She slipped. "Are four," corrected he, a tutor at all times, boys and girls taken in and done for, and no change given at the turnstiles.
"Catch as catch can," was her next word. Plop went a wave full in the rosy mouth. "Where's the catch of this?" stuttered the man.
"A pun, a pun!" bellowed the lady. "But not by four-in-hand from London."
She had him there. He smiled a blue acquiescence. So they landed, and the die was cast, ducks changed, and the goose-pair braving it in dry clothes by the kitchen fire. There was nothing else to be done; for the answer confessed to a dislike of immersions two at a time, and the hair clammy with salt like cottage-bacon on a breakfast-table.
Lord Ormont sat with the jewels seized from the debating, unbeaten sister's grasp.
"She is at Marlow," he opined.
"Was," put in Lady Charlotte.
The answer blew him for memory.
"Morsfield's dead," his lordship ventured; "jobbed by a foil with button off."
"And a good job too."
Lady Charlotte was ever on the crest-wave of the moment's humour. He snicked a back-stroke to the limits, shaking the sparse hair of repentance to the wind of her jest. But the unabashed one continued.
"I'll not call on her."
"You shall," said he.
"Shan't," was her lightning-parry.
"You shall," he persisted.
"Never. Her head is a water-flower that speaks at ease in the open sea. How call on a woman with a head like that?"
The shock struck him fair and square.
"We wait," he said, and the conflict closed with advantage to the petticoat.
A footman bore a letter. His step was of the footman order, calves stuffed to a longed-for bulbousness, food for donkeys if any such should chance: he presented it.
"I wait," he murmured.
"Whence and whither comes it?"
"Postmark may tell."
"Best open it," said the cavalry general, ever on the dash for open country where squadrons may deploy right shoulders up, serre-files in rear, and a hideous clatter of serjeant-majors spread over all. He opened it. It was Aminta's letter. She announced a French leave-taking. The footman still stood. Lord Ormont broke the silence.
"Go and be——" the words quivered into completion, supply the blank who will.
But her punishment was certain. For it must be thus. Never a lady left her wedded husband, but she must needs find herself weighted with charge of his grand-nephew. Cuckoo-tutor sits in General's nest, General's wife to bear him company, and lo! the General brings a grand-nephew to the supplanter, convinced of nobility beyond petty conventions of divorce-court rigmarole. So the world wags wilful to the offshoot, lawn-mowers grating, grass flying, and perspiring gardener slow in his shirt-sleeves primed with hope of beer that shall line his lean ribs at supper-time, nine o'clock is it, or eight—parishes vary, and a wife at home has rules. A year later he wrote—
"Sir,—Another novel is on hand. Likely you will purchase. Readers gape for it. Better than acrostics, they say, fit for fifty puzzle-pages. What price?
NO END TO HIS INIQUITIES.
(From a Yorkshire Moor.)
Sportsman (awaiting the morrow, and meeting Keeper as he strolls round). "Well, Rodgers, things look fairly hopeful for Tomorrow, eh?"
Rodgers (strong Tory). "Well, Sir, midlin', pretty midlin'. But, oh dear, it's awk'ard this 'ere Twelfth bein' fixed of a Sunday!"
(With much wisdom.) "Now, might Mr. Gladstone ha' had hanything to do wi' that arrangement, Sir?"
THE MARCH OF CIVILISATION.
(From a Record in the Far East.)
Step One.—The nation takes to learning the English language.
Step Two.—Having learned the English language, the nation begins to read British newspapers.
Step Three.—Having mastered the meaning of the leaders, the nation start a Parliament.
Step Four.—Having got a Parliament, the nation establishes school boards, railways, stockbrokers, and penny ices.
Step Five.—Having become fairly civilised, the nation takes up art and commerce.
Step Six.—Having realised considerable wealth, the nation purchases any amount of ironclads, heavy ordnance, and ammunition.
Step Seven.—Having the means within reach, the nation indulges in a terrific war.