FICTION

Match Point

JOHN HOLDEN June 1 1933
FICTION

Match Point

JOHN HOLDEN June 1 1933

Match Point

IN AN ENTERPRISING little city of the new Canadian North, a train clattered to a standstill and a young woman of striking appearance and even more striking reputation alighted. Her good looks bore the hallmark of fresh air and sunshine and her slim grace might have been envied by an antelope, but it was her air of all-round competency that was most noticeable. In one hand she carried a suitcase as though it weighed half a pound, and in the other a case that contained six rackets. She was a tennis player of much fame and several championships. Her cabinet at home displayed more cups than a barber shop, and her name was Winnie Linder.

In the wake of this Diana of the courts there followed a middle-aged lady who (X)ssessed a double chin, a lorgnette, a marrving-olf complex, and the athletic ability of a superannuated horse. Mrs. Linder’s efforts to divert Winnie’s attention from silver-plated mugs to gold-plated gentlemen had so far been somewhat of a flop, but, motherlike, she kept on trying.

As Winnie alighted, the eyes of a large gentleman who sat in a large motor car gleamed with satisfaction. One flabby linger displayed a large diamond and two flabby lips displayed a large cigar. I íe snubbed out the cigar against the brake jx'dal and placed the frazzled remains in a small tin box which he pushed under the seat, then eased his avoirdu|x>is to the ground. I íe doffed his hat and donned a smirk, and approached the lady champion.

“Miss Linder, 1 believe? And Mrs. Linder? I’m Mr. Pouch, chairman of the tennis dub tournament committee. Can’t tell you how delighted I am that you accepted our invitation.”

Mrs. Linder beamed. She made a specialty of beaming and was gcxxl at it.

“Thank you so much. Mr. Pouch. We’re delighted to be in your beautiful town.”

“City,” the gentleman corrected. “Our status was changed six months ago. The way we’ve been growing you wouldn't believe. Only a village twenty years ago, but with the development of this boundless new empire, the potential home of a million new citiz

"Where do we go?” interrupted Winnie.

Mr. Pouch assisted them into the car.

“Just wait till you set'. One of the finest summer hotels in North America. A home away from home for visitors to the queen city of the North. Overlwks a lake that we call the Loch Lomond of Canada, with forest-dad mountains in the distance to lend enchant

“Is the real estate business g<xxl?”

"Excellent.” Mr. Pouch looked puzzled. “But, if I may ask. how did you guess ?"

“Intuition. At that, it’s a nice looking town

"City, Miss Linder.”

"City, Mr. Pouch . . . And that’s the lake?”

"The Lake!” And the gentleman made an expansive gesture.

“Enchanting,” said mama.

"Could be worse.” murmured daughter.

Aí' THE STEPS of a commodious if somew'hat flimsy , looking structure the car stopped, and Mr. Pouch carried Winnie’s suitcase as though it w-ere an anvil. Their rooms arranged for, the stout gentleman glanced uneasily at the slim lady champion.

“Well, I must be going now. So much business, though I hear there’s a depression elsewhere. You can’t imagine how a real live realtor is kept on the . . . But you’ll not be alone for long. Another one of the tennis boys will arrive directly after supper to show you the club and the town.”

“Delightful boys, I’m sure you all are,” murmured mama. "So I’ll say good —”

“Just a minute,” said Winnie. “I want to talk to you, Mr. Pouch. Let’s sit on the verandah.”

The large gentleman eased himself into a small chair. “Please tell me why you wished me to compete in your tournament,” Winnie requested. “I was very dubious about coming; wouldn’t have considered your telegraphed invitation at all were it not for mother. I’m not accustomed to competing in open tournaments, even at isolated clubs where the men, as you stated, are not first-class players.” Mr. Pouch seemed to find his chair uncomfortable.

“We er - wished to see you play, of course. And then I thought we might —er— get a bit of publicity for the queen city of the ... It is a new idea, I believe—having a woman compete in a man’s tournament.”

“Old in theory but new in practice,” conceded Winnie. "You’re sure you didn't have any other reason for wanting me here?”

Mr. Pouch rose abruptly.

"My g<xxiness, Miss Linder! What other reason could we possibly have?” He glanced at his car as at a haven. “Well.

I 've enjoyed meeting you —”

“We’ve enjoyed meeting you, Mr. Pouch,” beamed mama, and I know' you’ll have a good time. Good day.” The gentleman entered his car with alacrity, and the wheels sprayed gravel on the steps as it jumped away.

“The way you talk, my dear. And he such a charming man; bachelor, too, I’ll warrant.”

"Real realtor who trifles with the truth,” remarked Winnie. “Notice how nervous he got? He’s got something up his sleeve. I’ll find out what it is.”

They ate supper and sat on the verandah again, and presently a yellow roadster approached like a comet.

"The man from the club!” Mama held her breath. “A handsome man,” she gurgled as the comet skidded to a stop. “Please, dear, try just this once —”

“I’ll try not to choke him.” promised daughter.

"T“HE NEWCOMER was. in fact, the type that Winnie I could be extremely agreeable to when she so desired. A few years beyond the college graduate stage, his features were clean-cut and his expression no less masterful than hers. The fit of his white flannel trousers won her fastidious approval, and his navy-blue coat was far from being a hand-me-down.

"Mrs. and Miss Linder?” he said. “I’m from the tennis club. Name’s Hickson. I hope I may have the pleasure of showing both of you around our more or less fair city.” Noticing a faint gleam of interest in Winnie’s eyes, mama embarked upon one of her numerous low plots.

"Oh, not I, Mr. Hickson. I’m afraid I've got a touch of

JOHN HOLDEN

—er—neuritis. But I am sure that my daughter will go.” Winnie rose.

“I would enjoy a ride, if it isn't too much trouble.” “Trouble!” Hickson’s grin resembled that of a winner at Wimbledon. “Know how many chaps I had to beat to get here first?” He indicated another car that came tearing up and hustled Winnie into his. "You don’t know how popular you are. Miss Linder.”

“Why?” queried Winnie as they swung into a handsome residential street. "Nobody here knows anything about me except what they 've read in sport pages.”

“And in the society column. The charming champion . . . queen of hearts and courts . . . equally at home on a ballroom floor or a—”

“Oh, fudge. Tell me why this town—”

“City, Miss Linder.”

“—city is so much better looking than many others.” “Because we're new. Not bound by tradition. Try to match Nature’s beauty . . . Look—the clubhouse.”

They alighted at a lawn-bordered replica of an old English cottage and, walking through to a verandah which overlooked half a dozen courts that were smooth as billiard tables, caused a commotion that surprised Winnie not a little.

A dozen members who sat at small tables jumped to their feet. Every player on the courts dropped balls and racket and hurried toward the verandah. Mr. Pouch was on hand with his smirk: the president, whose name was Manson, welcomed her effusively: Secretary Jones was introduced, and along with him about fifty members.

One and all felicitated Winnie upon her remarkable record. The president said that a dance in her honor would be held on the following evening, and she was assured that some of the girls—men, too, in case she preferred them—would be on hand every afternoon to give her practice.

Winnie responded graciously; and presently, at Hickson’s suggestion, since an hour of daylight remained, she left with him to see more of the town.

“THE IMPRESSIVE public buildings and parks and up-toI date manufacturing plants duly observed, Hickson pointed the car down a lovely lakeside drive, and in due course halted it upon a bluff from which the view was exquisite.

“Like our city?” he enquired.

Very much.” This was the truth; Winnie was captivated by the place.

“Like our people?”

“Most of them, yes.”

“Like me?”

A runabout Romeo, thought Winnie. The quicker one squelched a man of that type the better. A fitting retort trembled on her lips; and then, as she glimpsed his strong brown hand on the hand-brake, she substituted one not quite so caustic.

T 11 let you know later.”

“Thanks: we all like you.”

Silence for a moment.

I might like you just a little bit better,” Winnie commented calmly, “if you’ll clear up the mystery that surrounds my arrival.”

^rHickson. “I’m afraid I don't get you ”

Theres something going on behind my back,” Winnie

insisted. “In the first place, it’s unusual to invite a girl to compete in an open tournament—so very unusual that I only came because mother was keen on the trip. In the second place, why was everyone at the clubhouse so remarkably glad to see me? I tried to learn something from Mr. Pouch this afternoon, but he wouldn’t tell. So now it’s up to you.”

“I'm sure you’re mistaken.”

“I'm sure I’m not.”

“But, gosh! What reason could there be except that we wanted to see the champion?”

“In that case you would have invited the man champion. Come on now. Explain or I '11 go right txick home.”

“But I tell you, Miss Linder ”

“You surely will. Hustle up about it. too. I'm an impatient person, Mr. Hickson and a very disagreeable one at times.”

Hickson laughed.

“You disagreeable? I can’t believe it. Miss ”

Click, went the ignition key under Winnie’s thumb and forefinger; and, buzz, went the starter under her toe.

"Yesor no, and make up your mind fast.”

The gentleman sighed.

“Gosh! 1 see you can’t be deceived. As quick mentally as they say you are physically.”

“Pack a punch, too, if that should interest you.”

“All right. I'll tell. You’re here because" Hickson stubbed his tongue “becauseof a man,” he gurgled weakly.

INNIE llared.

“Because of a . . .! Mr. Hickson, will you believe me when I say that never in my life have I done anything, or said anything, or even thought anything because of a man? Let’s go.”

“Oh, please, no. Let me explain.”

“Make it snappy.”

“You see, this fellow, he’s the local champion at present but that doesn't mean lie’s a g<x>d player. Just picked up the game haphazard and is kept t<x> busy working at the legal profession to practise it much. One evening the subject of women players versus men players came up and the jxxir simp what do you think he said?”

“Whatever a simp usually says, I suppose.”

“He said that a second-rate man player can beat a firstrate woman player. On trip of that, the idiot let himself be inveigled into making a trifling bet that this year his name will be engraved again on the cup. Naturally, some of the wise guys had to get together and plan to make a f<x>l of him by bringing in a girl that they figure can beat him and here she is, sitting beside me.”

“Hm-m,” said Winnie; and after a moment of foreboding silence: “Thank you, Mr. Hickson. Explanation is satisfactory. Now if you’ll get this chariot started ...”

“You don't mean . . .?”

“Nothing else but. I’m going home. I’ve never yet been used as a pawn and I shan’t be now.”

“Don’t you even want to know who the local chump—I mean champ—is?”

“Not interested. He’s too dumb.”

“He’s interested in you.”

“Ha,” said Winnie. "Would he be interested after I’ve trimmed him before his friends? After I’ve made a laughing-

Continued on page 57

Continued from page 23

stock of him? I'd do just that, probably. "How do you know?’

I’ve beaten all the men at my own club and it's twice as big as this one.”

“He could even stand that. I tell you. Because he wants to know you better. Oh, gosh can’t you guess who the fellow is? He’s myself.”

Winnie gave Hickson a sidelong look.

“Oh,” she said not quite so belligerently. “And you want me to show you up?”

Hickson iidgetted.

“No, I don’t. I’d hang my head in shame if any girl ever beat me in a real match.” He added brightly: “But say. Miss Confidence, where do you get that show-me-up stuff? You haven’t seen me play yet.” The engaging smile that Winnie really liked returned to his features. “Tell you what—stick around for the dance tomorrow night and watch me work out in the evening. Then you can tell me what’s wrong with my game, and maybe give me a tip or two that’ll enable me to hand you the sweetest trimming you ever got. Come on now. live up to your reputation as a sportswoman. You will, won’t you?”

Winnie hesitated.

“All right.” she said finally.

They returned to the hotel, and after Hickson had left, mama jabbered like a jackdaw.

“Such a delightful man! Did you find him interesting. Winnie, dear?”

Daughter laughed.

“Mom,” she said. “I’m going to be a dutiful daughter at last. I’m going to give you a break. So long as we stay here, you may go right on enjoying neuritis.”

ON THE following afternoon a local girl was bold enough to face Winnie on the court. This girl quickly decided that she needed help. She and a companion played the inner lines, but Winnie beat them without mussing a hair. The woman champion then took on a young man named Brown, and in two minutes had him gasping with combined loss of breath and astonishment. He lost a love set and murmured groggily that he never dreamed any girl could play like that.

That evening Winnie watched Hickson practise. Afterward they danced together with noticeable frequency, and in due course found themselves on a bench outside, under the well-known romantic moon.

“Now that you’ve seen me play, Winnie, tell me the worst. Can you beat me?” “Since when have I become Winnie?” “Oh, don’t be like that. I’m Harry and you’re Winnie. Tell me the truth. Can you trim me?”

"Oh, yes,” said Winnie complacently. “Huh? How much?”

“About six-two.”

“Gosh ! As bad as that?”

“Worse, probably.”

“I’ve beaten better men players than you.”

“Well, I’ll be . . . !” Hickson sighed. “All right. You’re a good fellow for telling me. Now go on and tell me some more. What’s wrong with my game?”

“The same thing that's wrong with the game of nearly everyone who’s never had proper coaching. All you really do is try to slam the cover off the ball. Your control is weak, your strategy is elemental, your backhand—but why go on? I’m going to do you a favor: I’m going home.”

He grabbed her hand.

“That wouldn’t be a favor. No kidding. I’d rather have you beat me in love sets than let you go. Please tell me you'll stay.”

“And make a fool of you? Show you up before all the local girls who think you’re a real tennis player?”

“Local girls mean nothing to me—since you arrived.”

Winnie withdrew her hand.

“Harry, you’d be a nice boy if you weren’t slightly moonstruck.”

“Oh. yeah?” said Mr. Hickson with hauteur. “Let me tell you. you don't know what kind of person you're talking to. I learn fast. My game is rotten, you say. All right. I’ll improve it. The tournament starts Monday evening, then it’ll take you and me a week to work through to the final —if we do. and of course we should. By that time I’ll have learned quite enough to put you on the skids.” He added with a laugh: “If you'll be good enough to teach me.”

Winnie asked :

“Have you by any chance an idea that maybe you can talk me into letting you win?”

“Oh, gosh, no! Little as I know about tennis, I know that players don't throwmatches.” Her hand was captured again. “Watch me practise tomorrow night, then take a ride with me and give me some more advice. Really, you know, a tennis queen owes something to her loving subjects ...”

Winnie rose.

“You’re crazy—but in a nice way, perhaps. Here’s a piece of advice to start with: Give the other girls a break and

dance with them occasionally.”

ON SUNDAY afternoon Winnie was still in town. She had arrived well in advance of the tournament, which would start next day and continue during the evenings until Saturday afternoon.

Again she was in Harrison Hickson’s car. | Each evening since she arrived she had been in it. After doing her own practising in the afternoon, she had watched Hickson and the other entrants play in the evening; then, as he drove her slowly through the romantic countryside, she had endeavored to give her coming competitor the benefit of her wide experience. The car was now parked under a tree.

Hickson said:

“Winnie, I didn’t think there was a girl ; on earth so generous and utterly adorable j as you. The way.you’ve enabled me to improve my tennis for the express purpose of defeating you—has been wonderful.” “Your game has improved,’’ agreed Winnie. “In other ways, however, I’m afraid you're getting worse.”

“You mean, I’m getting more foolish about you?”

“Just more foolish. I don’t know what it’s about.”

“It’s about you.”

“Keep your tongue on the ball.”

“All right. Let me tell you about the workout I had this morning. Played the chap I met in the final last year. On that occasion 1 heat him by a very narrow margin, but today—Winnie, you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Probablynot. Goon.”

“I trimmed him in straight sets, six-four, six-four.” Hickson laughed. "Getting good. That means a tough time for you, my girlie.” Winnie sighed.

“Boy, what a bump of conceit you’re developing. Who is he who got licked?” “Brown. A young chap. Know him?” Winnie laughed.

“Slightly. Did Mr. Brown tell you about the time he played me?”

I lickson looked at her.

“He told me he'd seen you practise and I could trim you like a cook trims a pie. Was he kidding me?”

"Judge for yourself. I beat him six-love.” Hickson gasped.

"'The schemer ! A whole pack of schemers. Just waiting to see you make a f<x>l of me. How I’d love to turn the tables on them.” Winnie grew serious.

"Harry. I’ve told you repeatedly that you shouldn’t have persuaded me to stay. You can’t possibly beat me unless I throw the match, and 1 won’t do that for men, medals or money. You’ve got to let me go home. You can’t afford to let a woman beat you at any sport. In a town—”

"City.”

town like this you’d never hear the last of it. You’d be laughed at for years. Harry, you’ve been a g(x>d friend and we’ve had a nice time together. Let it go at that. I’ll leave on tonight’s train—”

“Please don’t!”

Winnie shook her attractive head. “Stubborn as a new racket. I tell you I don’t want to beat you. You’re much too nice. I don’t want to humiliate anyone, let alone you. You can’t possibly win. All you’ve got on me is strength, and strength isn’t ten [x*r cent of tennis. I’ve had years of proper coaching and grinding practice and tournament experience. You can’t overtake me between now and next Saturday. So why try? Face facts and quit being foolish.” 1 lickson considered.

j "Foolish,” he said. “Maybe. But I want ! you to stay just the same. There’s a way j out if 1 can only think of it—and I ought to, being a lawyer.”

"You could be a King’s Counsel and still be in the same boat. I’ve got to go. You j can drive me back to the hotel and say good-by—”

“No!”

The vehemence in his tone startled I Winnie. She laid her hand gently on his.

“Think of how the local girls will laugh i at you when 1

"Please!” He grabbed her hand and held it as though he meant to keep her in town ! by force.

They sat in silence. Winnie made a feeble attempt to release her hand from that i resolute masculine clasp, then let it lie. She was flustered. The situation had advanced i beyond a joke. For once, her aplomb failed her. She did not quite know what to savor do.

"Winnie,” said Hickson, “I know a I way out.”

"Yes?” she murmured weakly.

"It may shock you a bit ...”

“I’m shocked already. Go ahead.”

AS EXPECTED, the following Saturday / \ afternoon found Winnie and Hickson left in the open singles final. The present champion escorted Winnie to the court immediately in front of the crowded verandah and they began to warm up.

Mr. Pouch was. of course, present. As a player he had long since given up in disgust.

I but as a minor official he was satisfyingly 1 impressive. He sat on a chair at the end of the court outside the wire netting, where the verandah spectators could get a good look at him; and beside him sat Secretary

Jones. The latter looked half as important1 and was twice as efficient.

“The importation ought to win,” said Mr. Pouch with pontifical judgment.

“Sure.” agreed Jones. “Look at her right now. She’s got better strokes.”

“And yet I think she won’t.”

“Why not?”

“There’s an understanding between those j two. The match is fixed.”

“What makes you think so?”

“The way they’ve been barging around together ever since she hit the city. Looky j the way Hickson is conducting himself right ¡ now. Ought to be scared as a cat at a dog show, but is he? No.”

“Not a chance. Nobody throws a tennis match, least of all a real champ like Linder.

I tell you

The umpire called “Play,” and the match was on.

Winnie served first. Her service seemed easy and also faulty. Everyone expected it to go into the wrong court. Hickson obviously thought so because he didn’t get set to i return it. During its last ten feet of flight, however, it swerved sharply inward and nicked the line. The gallery applauded.

Hickson grinned sheepishly as he awaited Í the next one. He smacked it on the nose with so much power that Winnie netted the return.

“Huh!” said Jones. “The boy’s not so bad.”

Winnie swung her racket so swiftly that scarcely anyone noticed that her third service was a reverse one. It seemed bound to go outside Hickson’s right line and he : let it go. It curved back toward him and kicked lime off the line again.

Hickson returned the next, and the ball streaked back and forth until he dropped one short. Dashing forward, Winnie continued to the net after making the return and took the next point with a stop-shot. She took the game.

“Not trying?” said Jones. “Look at that.”

“Hickson’ll win. I tell you. fie knows all | about how we imported her to show him up. He’s roped her in on some funny business.” j When Hickson served it seemed that he might, indeed, win. He cracked over a hot one that nearly tore the racket from Winnie’s hand. She registered surprise. His cannonball service baffled her throughout the game and she lost it.

“He never flashed a service like that I before.” Jones remarked.

“She’s been coaching him.”

“Nothing wrong with that.”

Hickson settled down to heavy driving! from his base line in the third, but Winnie was geared up to meet fast ones by this time. ; She began to chop. Forced to play net after a vain attempt to stay back. Hickson was passed on side-line drives again and again, until finally he managed to build up some ! sort of defense. Then Winnie lobbed over j his head. She won the first set.

“Not trying?” queried Jones.

“Making it look good, that’s all. He’ll take the second.”

Hickson did take it. Everyone remarked j upon his vastly improved forehand drive, j He was hitting the ball with everything he j had now and keeping it inside the lines, j He took the second set and Pouch began to j get vexed.

"She wasn’t really trying. She let shots go by without even making a stab at ’em.” ;

“Lot you know about tennis,” jeered; Jones. “Only a novice would run after everything at that stage of a match. She was conserving her strength. This is a fiveset match, remember—men’s rules.”

By using the same fierce driving tactics as before, Hickson took the third set, but not until the score had mounted to nine-seven. One more and he would win the match.

‘‘He'll not get it,” Jones predicted. “She’s fresher than he. He’s twice as strong, but strength isn’t endurance. That girl hasn’t played all over North America for nothing."

WINNIE let no shots go by during the fourth set. Anyone could see she was striving hard to ward off defeat. She did ; it, too. i

“Part of the show.” sneered Pouch. “Two apiece now and the last one will go to him. She’s made it look real so far; now watch her play fainting female.”

The players had taken a long rest after the third set, and now they took a short one. They sat on a bench and chatted in a fashion that some of the more romantic ladies construed as downright loverlike, and Hickson sent a ball boy to bring Winnie a pitcher of ice water. She took no more than a taste.

"Catch him acting that way if he didn't know he’s going to win.” jeered Pouch.

“I got five bucks says you’re wrong.”

“It’s a bet.”

Nearly everyone expected, as Winnie stood back of her base line to serve, that Hickson would win. Surely a muscular man could stand the hot pace better than a slim girl.

It did not appear at first that he would, however. The girl champion drew on her repertoire of tricks. She mixed long shots with short ones and fast drives with slow chops. She cross-courted effectively, pitched lobs over his head, and manoeuvred him out of position. Hickson relied on his one good weapon—his sledgehammer forehand drive. A killing shot it was when he could get set, but not so killing when Winnie’s strategy prevented that.

The gallery was tremendously excited now. Winnie had been an overwhelming favorite at first, but by this time Hickson had gained many adherents. The proposed joke on him did not appear so zestful now. Folks began to remark that, after all. tennis was merely a pastime for him; while for the lady champion it was a serious all-year quest for honors and fame.

Gasping and perspiring. Hickson ran himself dizzy. No one could question the sincerity of his efforts. Winnie, on the other hand, seemed never to have really extended herself. She gained the upper hand at first in this deciding set. but by sheer gameness and determination Hickson pulled up until the games stood only four-three against him.

"Just like I told you.” growled Pouch. “He’ll overtake her, then pass her. Fixed from the beginning. A good show and that’s all.”

Suddenly a remarkable change took place; not at all the change that was expected.

With only two games needed to clinch the set and match, Winnie flashed the finishing power that marks a champion in any kind of endeavor. Just when it appeared that Hickson would overtake her. she lifted her game to astonishing heights. Throwing conservation of energy to the wind, she launched a deadly attack. She hit the ball harder. She ran like a scared deer. She mixed shots and changed pace with bewildering rapidity. She ran Hickson completely off his feet. She won the set six-three and the match three-two, and sauntered calmly to the bench, in marked contrast to Hickson, who appeared utterly exhausted.

He recovered quickly, placed Winnie’s wrap upon her shoulders and escorted her to the verandah. They passed within inches of Pouch and Jones.

“Satisfied now that Hickson had nothing up his sleeve?” said Jones.

“No,” retorted Pouch. “I still say those two have some game on. Did you notice the fellow? He didn’t look defeated. He looked happy.”

“He’s a good sport.”

It was natural for Hickson to approach, on the verandah, the president of the club, therefore nobody paid much attention to their brief chat. Nor did anyone notice that Mr. Manson went immediately to a tele-

phone booth and called up a downtown jeweller.

~T 11ERE WAS A DANCE at the clubhouse I that night. The winner and loser were present, and certainly no one seemed to j enjoy himself more than Harrison Hickson. He seemed to be quite as happy as Winnie herself.

After an hour or so the dancing was halted. A huge silver cup filled with roses was brought from a side room and placed upon a velvet-covered table which stood on the orchestral dais, and President Manson raised his hand for silence.

He cited the brief history of the cup. which, he reminded the members and guests, j had to be won by the same person three j times before it became that person’s property. The winner’s name was engraved upon it, and he or she retained possession for one year. Due to a quick job of engraving, the cup now bore the present winner's name. He took great pleasure in presenting to her the trophy of her splendid, her unique, her unparalleled victory.

The dancers applauded.

Winnie accepted the cup. murmured her thanks to the president and told the crowd how much she had enjoyed her visit, then set it back on the table. She blushed as though she were not already the possessor of a score of cups.

On the outskirts of the crowd, Pouch nudged Jones.

“What’s she setting it down for?”

“Can’t dance with it in her hand, dumbell.”

The dancing should have been resumed now, but it wasn’t. Someone cried “Speech from the loser,” and the cry was taken up. “Speech, Hickson.” “Speech, speech.”

Hickson mounted the dais.

“Dam him, he still doesn’t look like a j loser,” growled Pouch.

The cries continued.

“Tell us how it feels to get licked.”

“Have you paid your bet yet?”

“Your name on the cup hah, hah!”

Hickson waited, grinning, until the racket had died down, then;

“Ladies and gentlemen, you seem to think I’m a loser. Well, it’s true that in one sense I am. But in another sense, maybe I’m not. In fact, I’m sure I’m not. I'll even go so j far as to state that I’m the winner of just about the biggest prize in the province.”

The crowd hushed; all but Pouch.

"1 told you—something up his sleeve,” he I whispered excitedly to Jones.

Someone cried :

“All right, we’ll bite. Go on with your story.”

Hickson resumed:

“Mind you. I’m not claiming anything | but a technical victory in so far as the cup is concerned. The real victory belongs to my ODponent. But technical victories are often as good as any other kind. You will all recollect that my bet was that, this year again, my name would appear upon the cup. Well, take a look at it and tell me what you see.”

I le stepped aside.

Someone grabbed the big silver trophy and turned it to the light.

“Mrs. Harrison Hickson!” he shouted.

A moment of stunned silence, then pandemonium broke loose. The recent groom was showered with congratulations. Scores of masculine hands clasped his ; a score of women nearly crushed the bride of two days.

Á large gentleman at the rear looked dissatisfied, but no one paid any attention to him.