Uncle James’ Golf Match
SAPPER H. C. McNEILE
"UNCLE James should be here soon," said Molly thoughtfully from the other end of the teatable. "For Heaven's sake be nice to him,
“When have I ever not been nice to Uncle James?” I demanded. “But I tell you candidly, Molly, that it can’t last much longer. He’s only fifty-five: he will almost certainly live another forty years. And I cannot stand another forty years of Uncle James.”
“In case he'll leave us all his money, old boy,” she said, pleadingly.
“I can’t help that,” I retorted firmly—at least as firmly as I ever can retort to Molly. “A man can buy money at too great a price. And if he brings another of his abominable inventions with him this time, I shall tell him what I think. He ought to know better at his age.”
“I know, Peter,” she answered gently. “But it’s only for the week-end.”
“Only!” I echoed bitterly. “Thank God for it.”
“I must say I do hope that he hasn’t invented anything else for saving work in the house,” she conceded. “Servants are so difficult in these days, and the parlour-maid seems to be settling down at last.”
“He should confine his atrocities to his own home.” I said. “A man who tries to emulate Heath Robinson in real life ought to be locked up.”
Molly sighed. “I know, darling,” she murmured, “but think of the money.”
And they say that women are idealists!
“Take that last week-end he spent here,” I began wrathfully, and then Molly stopped me.
“Don’t, dear, don’t,” she begged. “And that reminds me, they’ve never sent up yet to repair the kitchen ceiling.”
Mind you, if the diabolical contrivances conceived in Uncle James’ perverted mind were harmless little things like patent match-boxes or unbreakable sock suspenders, I wouldn’t mind. He is an excellent judge of wine, and has an excellent cellar—two assets which enable one to slur over small idiosyncrasies in their possessor. But—well take that last week-end.
I feared the worst when he arrived: he was so infernally pleased with himself. He came on Friday, and on Saturday I had to go up to town, so my knowledge of what happened is only second-hand. I was met at the station by Molly—a rather wild-eyed Molly—who poured out the whole hideous story on the way up to the house. Uncle James had waited till I was well away before he sprang it on her, and even she had tried to be firm when she heard what it was.
"It was a patent labor-saving device for me in the kitchen, Peter,” she exclaimed weakly. “Little pulleys and things, and bits of string. I explained everything to
Martha—told her he was eccentric, and that we could take it down the instant he went—and she seemed to understand.”
SH E faltered a little, and my heart
“It took him two hours to put it up with step-ladders while Martha sat sardonically in a corner. Then he explained to us how it worked. Oh! it was
I took her arm: she was rapidly becoming hysterical.
“Of course something went wrong. Uncle James says it was the hook coming out of the ceiling—I know the plaster is all over the floor. But whatever it was, the big saucepan full of potatoes shot into the corner—Martha’s corn-
er—and she couldn’t get out of the way in time.”
Molly gulped. “She got up with potatoes all over her, and threw them one by one at Uncle James.”
“Did she hit him ?” I asked eagerly.
“Twice,” answered Molly. “Then she left the house.” Well, now that was the last time he stayed with us. Do you wonder that at times I felt I couldn’t stand it much longer? Of course, Molly’s account of it was a little incoherent—possibly even a trifle exaggerated. But the one salient fact remains that his last visit cost us Martha.
A series of loud explosions outside the front door recalled me from the bitter past, and Molly got up looking
“Good gracious, what’s that?” she
“Probably he has invented a motorcar,” I answered grimly, “which goes sideways with the passengers underneath.”
“Do you think it’s Uncle James?” she asked uneasily, and at that moment the front door bell rang.
It was Uncle James right enough, and we went out into the hall to greet him.
“Ah! my dear children,” he cried as he saw us, “I’ve arrived.”
“Anything wrong with the car?” asked Molly as she kissed him.
“Not going very well,” he answered, shaking hands with me. “And now it’s stopped altogether. I wish you’d just give me a hand, Peter.”
“Certainly.” I’m afraid my smile was a trifle strained. With an ordinary car I can compete: not with Uncle James.
“What’s the trouble?”
“Well—I’ll just show you the idea,” he cried cheerfully, as he led the way.
“I’ve got a few notions of my own incorporated into the general design—little gadgets, you know. Now, first of all,” he gazed pensively at the dashboard,
“we’ll try that a little farther open.
And, Peter, if you just pull that wire by the steering pole she ought to start.”
I pulled the wire, and Uncle James tackled the starting handle.
There was an alarming report, and a
cloud of white smoke which seemed to please him.
“Ah! spark’s all right anyway,” he murmured. “Once more.”
This time she back-fired so violently that only the greatest agility on his part saved him from a broken wrist. In view of what was to come I found myself wishing later that he hadn’t been quite so agile.
“Pull harder, Peter,” he cried, returning to the assault.
I DID: I pulled the whole damned wire out, and the
car promptly started.
"I knew she’d go,” he announced complacently. “Just a little patience wanted.”
I preserved a discreet silence as we went round to the garage: there are moments when speech is both unwise and tactless. And it was not until we were strolling back to the house, my sin still undiscovered, that I breathed
“You must let me run you up to the club house in mine tomorrow morning, Uncle James,” I said lightly. “Course in splendid condition.” i
“Aren’t you going to London to-morrow?” he demanded. “No, I’m taking a holiday, in honour of your visit.” I forbore to tell him that Molly had threatened divorce unless I did.
“What sort of time will suit you,” I went on. “Then can ring up and let them know about caddies.”
Uncle James did not immediately reply, and I noticed he looked a little thoughtful.
“To tell you the truth, Peter,” he began slowly, “I wasn’t particularly anxious to play golf with you tomorrow morning. The fact really is—“ he hesitated for a moment—“I wanted to practise a bit before I played you again.”
“Well, we won’t play a serious round, Uncle James,” I said mildly. “We might go up there and knock about bit; have some lunch, don’t you know, and play in the afternoon.”
Anything to keep him out of the house: those were Molly’s instructions.
“Yes”, he agreed. “We might do that. And in the afternoon I shall beat you.”
“Why, of course, beat my head off.”
“I have cured my slice, Peter,” he announced.
“Good,” I cried. “You’d have beaten me last time but for that.”
“No, not last time. But I shall this.”
There was an air of such complete conviction about his tone that I glanced at him in mild surprise. Uncle James may be, and is, an excellent judge of wine: Uncle James may be, and is, a public pest with his inventions: but Uncle James cannot be, and is not, and never will be, a golfer. He is not like anything on this earth that I have ever seen when he gets a golf club in his hands. He is, and I say it advisedly, with due regard to the solemnity of making such a claim for any man, the worst golfer in the world.
“I have—er—turned what little ingenuity I possess, Peter, upon a lengthy and scientific consideration of the game of golf.” He spoke as a man does who weighs his words with care, and involuntarily we both paused. “I have read many books on the game—by Vardon and Taylor and others—men doubtless well qualified to write on the sübject.”
BOWED silently: speech was beyond me.
“And it seems to me,” he went on, “that they evade the real issue. For instance now they unite in saying that the essence of golf lies in the swing. But how am I to know that my swing is like theirs?”
“How indeed!” I murmured chokingly.
“Again, they reiterate the statement, ‘Slow back.’ But ideas of slowness differ.”
“True,” I agreed. “Very true.”
To see Uncle James take his club back reminds one of a man lunging furiously at a wasp.
“Two points of many you perceive, Peter,” he continued, “on which I came to the conclusion that a little ingenuity might be of great assistance. And so, I have— er—perfected, or am in the process of perfecting, a small device, by which the—er—comparative novice like myself can obtain mechanical assistance in carrying out these maxims.” '
Thank God! Molly joined us at that moment: I was beginning to turn pale. Uncle James encased in pullies on a Saturday morning on the links, was a prospect that made me feel faint. Better a thousand times that the entire domestic staff should resign.
“Is it a very complicated device, Uncle James?” I asked feebly, and I heard Molly catch her breath.
“It takes a little adjustment,” he answered, “and I shall require Molly’s assistance.”
“Uncle James has invented something,” I explained, studiously avoiding her eye, “which he thinks will improve his golf.”
“What sort of a thing?” enquired Molly.
“It’s not so much an original invention,” he explained, “as a common sense application of a well-known principle —the principle of elasticity.”
I suppose I looked mystified—I certainly felt it, and he beamed at us contentedly. Then he fumbled in his pocket and produced a small parcel.
“It is my firm belief,” he continued, as he undid the string,“that with this I shall be able to reduce my handicap to single figures, or even—” he paused for a moment, and his voice shook a little at the thought—“or even to scratch.” W
At first sight the invention looked like a cross between
a young octopus and the tram-lines at the Elephant and Castle. On closer inspection it looked like a nightmare. Streamers of india-rubber flowed in all directions from metal rings, terminating in little clips and loops. Some were short and some were long; some were thick and some were thin; and to each was affixed a label.
“There it is, you see,” he remarked proudly “neat and simple. Merely following first principles. Peter.”
“But,” I stammered, “how does it work, Uncle James?” “You must surely follow the main idea,” he exclaimed, with the genial toleration of the great brain. “Each of these lengths of rubber fulfils a purpose of its own, and the thickness and length have been calculated to enable them to fulfil that purpose scientifically. For instance— this one.”
HE INDICATED a short, stocky little fellow, with a loop at the end.
“Now, Duncan lays great stress on the action of the right elbow during the upward swing. He insists that it should be kept close to the body. By the simple process of attaching this loop round the right elbow, the result is obtained.”
“I’m afraid I’m still rather dense,” I said dazedly. “The ring—this metal ring,” he explained a little wearily, “is attached to the inside of my coat. From it the rubber goes to my right elbow. These others go elsewhere.
Similarly with the remaining rings. Each is securely fastened inside my coat, and from them the rubber cords go to their respective places where they are secured.” Thank Heavens the dressing-bell rang. My brain was reeling: it was incredible to think that any man could have such a mind. And what made it worse was that Molly seemed to be in a splendid temper. I even heard her congratulate her abominable relative on his cleverness.
“Could anything be better, old boy?” she said coming into my dressing-room. “He’ll be perfectly happy on the links, with you and his india-rubber.” She choked slightly.
“Understand me, Molly,” I answered coldly. “I go to London to-morrow, and I do not return till Uncle James has left. I shall have a telephone message in the morning. I utterly and absolutely refuse to take your damned relative up to the links on a Saturday morning, swathed from head to foot in rubber bands.”
“But, Peter, darling,” she began soothingly.
“Go away,” I said firmly. "Go away. I hate your family.”
“But, Peter darling,” she continued, “he won’t do any harm. He can’t play any worse with it on than he does with it off.”
“That,” I agreed, “is an indubitable fact. . But—why confound it, Molly—it’s against the rules. It must be against the rules. It’s absolutely immoral.” “I know, dearest,” she answered. "But no one will find out—and it keeps him happy. After all, it’s better than letting him loose in the house.”
Of course, I gave in finally: I knew I should. I always do with Molly. And, after all, she was quite right. The infernal machine would be hidden underneath his coat, and no one need know. And he has got a lot of money.
WE GOT off about ten on Saturday morning—Uncle James and I. Molly had sewn the rings into his coat after dinner the night before under his expert eye: she
had then superintended the connecting up in the morning after breakfast. And that completed her share of the performance. She flatly refused to accompany us to the links, on the plea of household duties. She equally ilatly refused to speak to me alone, or even to meet my eye. So I placed Uncle James’s bag of nineteen clubs in the car and we started.
It was a beautiful day for golf—soft, balmy, and without a breath of wind. Moreover Uncle James was in a splendid temper.
“I shall do a good round this afternoon, Peter,” he affirmed confidently. “Splendid device this of mine. Tried one or two practice swings while you were getting the car.”
“Good,” I cried. With the new day had come a certain cheerful optimism, and I let the car out a bit more. “But if I were you, Uncle James, I’d lie low about it. Don’t tell anyone, and you might make a bit of money tomorrow.”
I could see the pride of the inventor, struggling with the wonderful idea I had suggested. To actually beat somebody at golf! It opened a vista of possibility almost too marvellous for imagination.
“You see,” I continued craftily, “people might belittle your game if they knew.”
I left it at that, and hoped for the best. There were quite a number of men about when we arrived at the clubhouse, and as Uncle James wanted to try his device, I fixed up a game for the morning. Then I showed him a hole where he could practise approach shots and left him. It was a fatal move on my part: I ought to have known better. To leave Uncle James alone on the links—especially on Saturday morning, is asking for trouble. I got it.
The first man I saw as I came in after my round was Colonel Thresher. He was talking to the secretary who was trying to soothe him.
“I’ll look into it, Colonel,” he said mildly. “Leave it
“But I tell you there’s a madman on the links,” roared the irate officer. “He’s dug a hole on the seventeenth fairway big enough to bury a cow in.”
My heart sank: it was the seventeenth where I had left Uncle James.
“The damned man is a menace to public safety,” fumed the Colonel. “He hits the ball backwards and through his legs. And he’s using the most appalling language. Here he is, sir, here he is.”
I choked and turned round as Uncle James entered. I could see at a glance that he was no longer in a splendid temper. Far from it.
“The lies on this course are atrocious, Peter,” he cried as soon as he saw me, “positively atrocious.”
I attempted to intervene, but it was too late.
“And they won’t be improved, sir,” roared the Colonel, “by your exhibition of trench digging. Damn it, a man falling into some of those holes you’ve made woidd break his neck.”
“Confound your impertinence, sir,” began Uncle James, shaking his fist in his rage. And then he paused suddenly: in mid-air so to speak. A spasm of pain passed over his face, and a loud twanging noise came from the region of Continued on page 49
(Continued from page 11)
his back. The Colonel started violently, and retreated, while the secretary took two rapid paces to the rear.
“I told you he was mad,” muttered the Colonel nervously. “He's got a musical box in his shirt.”
IT WAS that remark that finished it, and removed the last vestige of Uncle James’ self-control. To have his latest invention alluded to as a musical box turned him temporarily into a raving lunatic. And as other members drew near in awestruck silence a torrent of words in a strange tongue poured from his lips. It turned out to be some Indian dialect, of which my relative knew a smattering. Unfortunately so did the Colonel, and he answered in the same language. I gathered later from an onlooker who also understood the lingo that honours were about even, with the betting slightly on Uncle James. He’d got in first with some of the choicer terms of endearment. And then Uncle still further lost his head. He challenged the Colonel to a game that afternoon for a tenner—a challenge which that warrior immediately accepted with a sardonic laugh.
To everyone else it seemed a most happy termination of the incident: to me it was the láát straw. Uncle James had no more chance of beating the Colonel than I should have of beating Abe Mitchell. Not that the Colonel was a good golfer: he wasn’t. But he was one of those steady players who can be relied on to go round in two or three over sevens. Which, with Uncle as his opponent, meant a victory for the Colonel by ten and eight.
However, the challenge had been given and accepted: there was nothing for it hut to hope for the best. Unele James had disappeared to wash his hands, the Colonel had been led away breathing hard, when I suddenly thought of Molly. After all, he was her relative.
“Is that you, Molly?” I said over the 'phone. “Well, the worst has occurred.
Your uncle has challenged old Colonel Thresher to a game this afternoon— after the combined efforts of most of the members just prevented a free fight in the smoking-room.”
I heard her choke gently. Then—
“Well, that’s all right Peter.”
“It isn’t,” I fumed. “He’s got no more chance of winning than—than—don’t you understand? Thresher called his invention a musical box. It came into action as they were abusing one another and twanged. It’s an affair of honour with Uncle James. And if he loses—he’ll never forgive us.”
“He mustn’t lose, Peter.” I thought her voice was thoughtful.
“Then I wish to Heaven you’d come up and prevent it,” I said peevishly.
"I will,” she said, and I gasped. “What ball is he using?”
“Silver Kings. Red dots. But look here, Molly, you mustn’t. . . It’s for a tenner. Are you there?”
She wasn’t: she'd rung off. And somewhat pensively I joined Uncle James at the bar. I never quite know with Molly: she is capable of doing most peculiar things.
“I’ll teach him. Potor.” ho grootoil mo with a scowl. “What did ho say! Musical box? Tho infornal sooundrol.”
“What was it that mudo tho noise. Uncle Jamos?” I asked soothingly.
“One of tho longer midiera got caught up in my braces,” ho said. “Incidentally it nipped a hit of my back . Bah! Musical box! The villain!"
“Is it acting all right?” I led him towards the dining-room.
“I shall adjust it finally after lunch." he stated. *
“You don't think.” I hazarded, “that, as you haven't actually perfected it yet. it would perhaps lie hotter to plav without it?”
“Certainly not.” Ho glared sombrely at tho hark of his rival, and once again 1 hoard him wliis|H*r. "Musical box."
THEN WO :at down to lunch. It was a siloni rural, and I was glad it was over. Uncle James, that gonial if oc.ertric individual, had departod ; an infuriated and revengeful man had taken hi • place. And wliat would lathe re-tilt his disposition when lie forked up ten Bradhurys to the Colonel was beyond my mental seo|>c. He was never at his liest on the golf links; hut this time. ...
He (lisapjioared for a considerable time, after consuming two glasses of our best light port, which lie stated was completely unfit for human consumption, and I wandered thoughtfully towards the first tee. There was no sign of Molly, though I thought I saw the flutter of something red in the distance, which might have been her. And then the professional strolled up.
“Hear there’s a tenner on Colonel
Thresher’s game,” he said affably.
“There is,” I answered grimly. “Did you see his opponent playing this morning?”
“I saw the gentleman doing exercises on the seventeenth,” he said guardedly.
“That’s my uncle, Jenkins,” I cried bitterly. "Or rather my wife’s uncle. Can you as a man and a golfer give me the faintest shadow of hope that the match won’t end on the tepth green?”
“Your uncle, is he?” he returned diplomatically. “Peculiar style, sir, hasn’t he?”
“Peculiar,” I groaned. “He’d earn a fortune on the variety stage. By the way you haven’t seen my wife, have you?” “Yes, sir. I thought she was playing with you. She’s just bought a couple of old re-makes.”
“What brand, Jenkins?” I asked slowly. “Red-dot silver kings. Seemed very keen on ’em, though she generally uses Dunlops.”
I turned away lest he should see my face. I had more or less resigned myself to being cut out of Uncle James’s will and to seeing his money go to a home for lost cats; but to be turned out of the club as well for Molly’s nefarious scheme, was a bit over the odds. What devilry she contemplated I did not know. I didn’t even try to guess. But not for nothing had she invested in two re-make red dots and disappeared into the blue.
“Here they are,” said Jenkins. “Odd sort of walk your uncle has got, sir.” Now Uncle James has many peculiarities, but I had never noticed anything strange about his pedestrianism. The shock therefore was all the greater. To what portions of his anatomy he had attached his infernal rubber factory I was in ignorance; but the net result was fierce. He looked like a cross between a King penguin and a trussed fowl suffering from an acute attack of locomotor ataxy. A perfect bevy of members had gathered outside the club house, and were watching him with awed fascination; his caddy, after one fearful convulsion of laughter, had relapsed into his customary afterluncheon hiccoughs. It was a dreadful spectacle—but worse, far worse, was to
THE Colonel stalked to the tee in grim silence. His face was a little flushed; in his eyes was the light of battle.
“Ten pounds, you said, sir, I believe?” “I will make it twenty, if you prefer,” said Uncle James loftily.
“Certainly,” snapped the Colonel, and addressed his ball.
Usually after lunch the Colonel fails to reach the fairway of the first hole. On this occasion however, the ball flew quite a hundred yards down the middle of the course, and the Colonel stepped magnificently off the tee and proceeded to light a cigar.
The members drew closer as Uncle James advanced, and even the caddy forbore to hiccough. The moment was tense with emotion; it still lives in my memory and ever will.
“Slow back,” had said Vardon. “Follow through,” had ordered Ray. Merciful Heavens! they should have seen the result of their teaching. Uncle James achieved the most wonderful wind shot of modern times.
He lifted his driver like a professional weight lifter, and at about the same velocity. Then, his face grim with determination, he let it down again. To say that he followed through would be to damn with faint praise. The club itself finished twenty yards in front of the
“Very good,” said the Colonel. “But the object of the game is to get your ball into the hole, not your club.”
“Another driver, boy,” said Uncle James magnificently, when he was again in a vertical position, and at that moment I felt proud of being related to him. Once more Uncle James lifted his club; once more under the combined influence of the “to left wrist for follow through” rubber, and his inflexible determination, the club descended. And this time it hit the ball. In cricket phraseology, point would have got it in the neck. As it was, the Colonel’s caddy sprang into the air with a scream of fear, and got it in the stomach, whence the ball rebounded into the tee box.
“Damn it, sir,” roared the Colonel.
“That’s my boy.”
“Precisely, sir,” returned Uncle James complacently. “It is therefore my' hole.” For a moment I feared for Colonel Thresher’s reason. Even Jenkins, a most phlegmat' an, retired rapidly behind the star box and laid his head on a cold st In fact only Uncle James
seemei' nperturbed. He unwound himself, twanged faintly, and started for the second tee.
“I must adjust my ‘right elbow in’ grip, Peter,” he remarked as I trailed weakly behind him. “It prevents me raising my club with the freedom required for a perfect swing.”
“Do you mean to say, sir—” the Colonel had at last found his voice—“that you intend to claim that hole?”
“I presume that we are playing under the rules of golf.” Uncle James regarded him coldly, “and the point is legislated for. Should a player’s ball strike his opponent or his opponent’s caddy the player wins the hole.”
“That doesn’t apply to attempted murder off the tee,” howled the Colonel.
“You are not in the least degree funny, sir,” returned Uncle James still more coldly. “In fact, I find you rather insulting. If you like, and care to forfeit the stakes, we will call the match off.”
“I’ll be damned if I do,” roared the other. “But before you drive next time, sir, I’ll take precautions. I came out to play golf, not to be killed by a brass band.”
T TNCLE JAMES turned white, but he controlled himself admirably. Even when he reached the second tee, and the Colonel seizing his caddy went to ground in a pot bunker, over the edge of which they both peered fearfully, Uncle James retained his dignity.
“Straight down the middle is the line, I suppose,” he remarked to his caddy.
“Yus,” said the caddy from a range of twenty yards.
But unfortunately Uncle James did not go straight down the middle. It’s a very nice five hole is our second—a drive, a full brassie, and a mashie on to the green over a little hill. But you must get your drive—otherwise. ...And Uncle was otherwise.
I measured it afterwards. His driver hit the ground exactly eighteen inches behind the ball travelling with all the force of “to left wrist for follow through”. The shaft followed through; the head did not. It remained completely imbedded in the turf.
“Have you finished?” demanded the Colonel emerging from his dugout. Then he pointed an outraged finger to the broken head. “This is a tee, sir, not a timber-yard. Would you be good enough to remove that foreign body before I
I removed it; I was afraid Uncle would twang again if he stooped. And then the Colonel addressed his ball. From there by easy stages, with a fine losing hazard off a tree, it travelled out of bounds.
“Stroke and distance, I presume,” murmured Uncle. “Boy, another driver.” And then ensued a spectacle which almost shattered my nerves. Uncle James got stuck. He got his club up, but he couldn’t get it down. Both arms were wrapped round his neck, the club lay over his left shoulder pointing at the ground. And there he remained—saying the most dreadful things, and biting his sleeve.
“Posing for a statue?” asked the Colonel, sarcastically.
“Grrr—” said Uncle, and suddenly something snapped. The club came down, like a streak of lightning—there was a sweet clear click, and even Dunoan would have been satisfied with the result.
Probably It was the most exquisite moment of Uncle’s life. Heaven knows how it happened—certainly the performer didn’t. But for the first time and—I feel tolerably confident—the last, Uncle James hit a perfect drive. It was three hundred yards if it was an inch, and the Colonel turned pale.
“That’s two I’ve played,” said Uncle calmly. “You play the odd, sir.”
It was then that the fighting spirit awoke in all its intensity in his opponent, and Uncle James followed him from bunker to bunker counting audibly until they came up with his drive.
“I’m playing one off ten,” he remarked genially.
“And you’ll damn well play it,” snapped the Colonel.
Uncle James smiled tolerantly. ' “Certainly. • As you please. Boy—the wrynecked mashie.”
BUT IT wasn’t the wry-necked m*shie’s day in. Whatever Duncan might have thought about Uncle’s drive, I don’t think he’d have passed the wrynecked mashie. At the best of times it was a fearsome weapon—on this occasion it became diabolical. Turf and mud flew
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"I have playedfsixteen,” he began— then he stopped with a strangled snort. And as we topped the hill we saw him staring horror-struck at the hole, his lips moving soundlessly.
“That was a lucky shot of yours, Uncle,” came Molly’s gentle voice from a shelter where she was knitting. “Hit that log and bounced right back into the hole.”
And the brazen woman came across the green towards us literally staring me straight in the face.
“How does the game stand, Colonel Thresher?” she asked sweetly.
“The game, madam,” he choked. “This isn’t a game. It’s an—an epidemic. He’s murdered my caddy and dug a grave for him, and supplied the music—and now he’s bounced into the hole.” He shook • his putter in the air, and faced Uncle James.
“You have that for a half,” said Uncle, dispassionately regarding a twenty yard putt. Then he looked at the Colonel and frowned. “What are you staring at confound you sir?”
But the Colonel was backing away stealthily, muttering to himself.
“I knew it—I knew it,” he said shaking-
in all directions—only the ball remained in statu quo.
“That’s like as we lie,” said the Colonel, as Uncle paused for; breath.
“Damn you, sir—go away,” roared Uncle James, completely losing all vestige of self-control. And at that moment I saw Molly peering over the hill that guarded the green.
“The laid-back niblick, boy,” Uncle threw the wry-necked mashie into a neighbouring garden and resumed the attack.
“Fourteen—fifteen — sixteen,” boomed the Colonel. “Why not get a spade? Ah! Congratulations. You’ve hit the ball, even if you have sliced it out of bounds. Perhaps you’d replace some of the turf— or shall I send for a ‘Ground under repair’ notice?”
“Your shot, sir,” said Uncle thickly.
“Let me see—I’m playing one off six,” remarked the Colonel. “And you’re out of bounds.”
“I may not be,” Uncle ground his teeth, “I may have hit a tree and bounced back. Damn!”
There was a loud tearing noise, and Uncle James started as if an asp had stung
“Confound you, sir,” howled the Colonel, as he topped his ball, “will you be silent when Ihn playing ?”
But Uncle James was beyond aid.
“My God! Peter,” he muttered, “I’ve come undone.”
It was only too true: he was twanging all over like a jazz band. Portions of indiarubber were popping out of his garments like worms on a damp green, and every now and then the back of his coat was convulsed by some internal spasm.
“Can’t you take it off altogether?” I asked feverishly. M
“No, I can’t,” he snapped. “The
beastly thing ia sewn in.”
We heard the Colonel’s voice from the green.
ly. “It’s a monkey, the damned man’s a musical monkey. He’s got a tail—he’s got two tails. He’s got tails all over him. I’ve got ’em again; must have. What on earth will Maria say?”
“What the devil?” began Uncle James furiously.
“It’s all right—quite all right, sir,” answered the Colonel. “I’m not very well to-day. Touch of fever. Tails—scores of tails. Completely surrounded by tails. Some long—some short; some loops— and some without. Great Heavens! There’s another just popped out of his neck. Must go and see a doctor, at once. Never touch the club port again. I swear it. Never-”
STILL muttering he faded into the distance, leaving Uncle James speechless on the green.
“What the devil is the matter with the fool?” he roared when he had partially recovered his speech.
“I don’t think he’s very well, Uncle,” said Molly chokingly.
“But isn’t he going to play any more?” demanded Uncle. “He’d never have holed that putt, and I’d have been two up.”
“I know, dear,” said Molly, slipping her arm through his and leading him gently from the green. “But I think he’s a little upset.”
“Of course, if the man’s ill,” began Uncle doubtfully.
“He is, Uncle James,” I said firmly. “A touch of the sun.” I warily dodged two long streamers trailing behind him, and took his other arm. “What about going home for tea?”
“That reminds me,” he murmured, “I’ve just perfected a small device for automatically washing dirty cups and saucers.”
“Splendid," I remarked, staring grimly at Molly. “You shall try it this afternoon.”