If Jenny won she was lost to Joe... If she lost?... Either way Joe figured he was a cinch to land strictly out of bounds
THE caddy handed Joe Lannigan the golf bag and went away in the crowd. Lannigan stood in the centre of the path and people went by him, the big shots and the nobodies, heading out for the first tee. A stocky man stopped to say hello and grin at the uniform Joe Lannigan wore.
“On you that outfit looks good,” he said.
The stocky man bent his head to read the name— her name—on the golf bag. He smiled knowingly. “Fine,” he said. “It’ll make all the difference.” Lannigan said, “Maybe it will.”
The stocky man said, “See you,” and went on. Lannigan looked at the bag, at the sleek and shining steel of the irons, at the woods neatly shod in their numbered hoods. He felt a sudden weary disgust. “You,” he told himself. “You would open your big mouth!”
The crowd pushed him along toward the first tee. The same old crowd, the gallery mob. The wolves. Only this year there were more uniforms, more Air Force blue and khaki, more stripes and shoulder pips. The ropes were up along the first fairway. The course had the battered and trampled look it always had when a big tournament has spun itself out to the finals. But the day was good, clear and golden, and in the far distance you could see the river, cool and deeply green.
“Here they come,” someone said.
Sweat started on Lannigan’s back, on the palms of his hands. The finalists were on the clubhouse porch, on the steps, coming down the path. But he didn’t look. He didn’t have to look. He could close his eyes and see her . . . her dark head in the centre of a swirl of people. The indrawn and solemn look she wore when pressure came; the unconscious way she pulled and smoothed the fingerless glove on her left hand. She was Little Miss Sphinx to the typewriter boys, and Lannigan hated that. Her name was Jenny Strand and once Lannigan had called her Pigeon. His Pigeon.
There was talk and laughter on the path behind him now, and still Lannigan did not turn. Up ahead the crowd shifted and moved behind guard ropes held by the stewards. Lannigan swallowed. “Aw, Pigeon,” he thought unhappily, “you’d better brace yourself.” “Joe!” a hearty voice said. “Joe Lannigan!”
This was Ben Samuels, a rotund little man with merry eyes. The club president and referee. He owned a couple of banks but you didn’t think of that
A Cup for the Mantel
when you talked to him, and he made no point of it. His handclasp was warm and strong.
“Does Jenny know you’re here, Joe?”
“No,” said Lannigan. “Not yet.”
Samuels looked at the golf bag Lannigan held. “This’s swell,” he said. “It’ll be a big surprise.” Carefully, Lannigan said, “Won’t it?”
And for a moment they were caught in an odd backwash of silence. Samuels smiled again, eyes twinkling. Then the girls came abreast of them; Jenny Strand and Peg Hallock. Peg, the defending champion, tall and wheat-blond. Capable. And Jenny, little Jenny Strand. The girl with the long backswing. Lannigan gripped the hooded woods to stop the trembling in his hands. She was just as he’d remembered her: grave eyes, the golden powdering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, the square, small chin.
“Hello,” he said. “Hello, Jenny.”
“You’re looking fit,” she said.
LANNIGAN smiled and inside he felt hollow and i empty and dead. He’d had days to think about this meeting, days of crowded trains and endless riding. He had even set the stage and planned the scene; her father’s garden or the club. A lighted doorway somewhere behind them. Wind, smooth turf, and the barest scrap of moon. Soft music in the background. One of the old songs, splashed with sadness and nostalgia. Jenny’s bubbling laughter. “Hey, soldier, how come you’re not a colonel yet?” And that old one about the potatoes someone had to peel. And then . . .
He’d called from the station and found her gone. He’d hung up on her father’s, “Who is this, please?” Later he’d walked past the house and found a victory garden where the putting green had been. “Vitamins,” he’d told himself wryly, “and who can make love kneedeep in vitamins?” He’d tried the club next. The tournament crowd was there and Jenny wasn’t. Now it was morning and the gallery was breathing on his neck.
Samuels said, “You’ve got five minutes.”
He gave them a knowing grin and went away. Peg Hallock moved off at his side. Lannigan tried to smile. “Those’re my clubs,” Jenny said.
“Yes,” said Lannigan. “They are.”
“Is this some of your work?”
“He got sick,” Lannigan told her. “He got the misery in the stomach and he went home. I knew
you’d need a caddy so I grabbed your bag. I—” “You paid him to go home.”
Lannigan swallowed. “Now, Pigeon,” he said. “Why would I do a thing like that?”
“Because you want me to lose,” she said.
“That’s not true,” he said. “Not quite.”
“It is!” she said, and now there was anger in her low voice. “You want me to lose; you’ve always wanted me to lose.” Her chin came up. “You get credit for a nice try, Mr. Lannigan, but that’s all. I’m going to get another caddy.”
“I’ll brain him with a five iron.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” she cried.
“Try me,” he said darkly.
And when she would have turned away he put his hand upon her arm. “Think of the gallery,” he said. “All these pretty people paid their money to see the finals and help the Red Cross buy cigarettes and coffee for the soldiers and the sailors and the fliers. They wouldn’t be very happy if we made a scene.”
“The gallery can go jump!” she said.
“What about your friends, Pigeon? Your friends and my friends? They think our romance was one of the special jobs, copper-riveted and guaranteed for the duration. They don’t know Lannigan got the brush.” Coolly, she said, “It’s time they did.”
Lannigan didn’t answer that. He was thinking again, wondering what had become of the Jenny he’d known. Once she’d been fun to have around. But that was before she won a tournament and turned serious about the business of hitting them far and straight. Now she was Little Miss Sphinx, a finalist in the Ontario Women’s, and she wanted no part of Joe Lannigan.
“I’ll send a caddy out,” he said.
He was turning when Ben Samuels came down the path with three or four men in his wake. “Jenny,” Ben said, smiling broadly, “the boys want some pictures. I told them about you two and how Joe came clear across the country to carry your clubs today.” “You what—?” Jenny said.
Lannigan grinned. “He told them about us. They want some pictures of Jenny Strand and her caddy.” “Yeah,” one of the men said. “Smile, please.”
A reporter wrote Joe Lannigan’s name and rank on a scrap of copy paper. Ben Samuels said, “Thanks, kids.” Then, “You’re due on ¿he first tee, Jenny.” Jenny said, “Coming, Ben.”
WHEN Samuels and the others had gone she looked up at Lannigan. ‘ That was a dirty trick. You should have told them Ben was wrong.”
“Have you lost your voice?” he said.
“I couldn’t,” she said. “You know . . .”
“You couldn’t and I wouldn’t.” The small crooked grin stayed on his lips. “They’re waiting for you on the first tee, Pigeon. Do you still want another caddy?”
“No.” Her voice was tired. “Come on.”
He stood against the rail, hearing the murmurous voice of the gallery. He watched a coin spin upward in bright sunlight. “Heads,” Samuels said. “Miss Hallock’s honor.” And Peg Hallock bent to tee her ball.
Her drive was good, long and low and climbing far out. It dropped on the slope of the hill for an extra 10 yards of roll. Applause swept over the gallery, and then it was Jenny’s turn.
She looked absurdly small up there, taking her stance, fitting her hands to the club grip. Small and very serious. Her backswing was long. Lannigan saw the clubhead flash down, saw her weight shift, her wrists come through the shot. And he waited for the gallery’s groan. Jenny had hooked her drive. The ball curved to the left, fighting the rise of the hill, dying there.
“That right hand,” Lannigan said.
Stewards ran with the ropes. The gallery spilled out across the fairway. Lannigan swung Jenny’s bag to his shoulder; the balanced weight of it was old and familiar. He thought of that as he struck out ahead of Jenny nnd Samuels and Peg Hallock. Ahead of the boy who lugged the score standard. How many times had he carried Jenny’s bag? How many times had his father said, “Jenny’s on the first tee, Joe. She wants you to caddy for her.”
He was standing beside the ball when Jenny came up. She made a long study of the lie. Her mouth had a white taut look; lines were deep-cut at its corners.
“Hey,” he snid, trying for lightness. “This is where I’m supposed to help you. Why not use a two iron and play to the left of the trap? Then you’ll have an easy approach and ...”
“Shut up!” she said.
She used a wood—a brassie—and played the shot strongly for the pin. But her right hand was too far around on the grip of the club; she hooked again. The ball skidded, jumped, and buried itself in the wall of the trap. The boy who carried the score standard began fumbling in his canvas bag.
“So I’m one down,” Jenny said.
Lannig.;n watched Peg Hallock’s long iron shot
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A Cup for the Mantel
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catch the apron and roll well up on the green. “Yes,” he said quietly. “Peg Hallock’s a golfer. You can’t fight yourself and me, and win from her.”
“Is that why you’re here?” Jenny said.
“Jenny,” he said. “I ...”
But it was no good. He saw her eyes as the crowd closed in around them again, saw the bitterness they held, the loathing. He bent his head remembering the thing he’d said in anger, long ago, “I hope you lose this match! I hope you lose every match you ever play!”
Jenny said, “My nine iron, please.”
She tried to cut her ball free of the trap bank, tried and failed. Her next was short of the green. The gallery moved on to the second tee. The score standard read: Strand. One down.
The second was a dog-leg to the right, a long par five. Peg Hallock drove. Lannigan squinted against the sun, watching the straight white flight of her ball. It landed beyond the 200-yard marker, close to a kid, who lay on his stomach there, holding a spotted dog. Lannigan took Jenny’s driver from the bag.
“Jenny,” he whispered, “you’re hooking because your right hand’s too far under. Believe me. I . . .”
She turned away as though she hadn’t heard. But her drive was straight. Short of the boy and the dog, but out there. For a moment Lannigan felt better. He had forgotten the way Jenny underclubbed.
Judgment of distance had never been one of the strong points in Jenny’s game. Lannigan had learned that long ago; he’d explained it to Dusty: “Jenny’s afraid of overshooting the green. She’ll look at a shot, wrinkle her nose, and say, ‘That’s about a five iron, isn’t it?’ If you let her use a five iron she’ll be short. Give her a four and she’ll be pin-high.” Dusty had grinned, saying, “Man, already I foun’ that out.”
So it was simple enough and part of the caddy’s job. You had to talk Jenny into using a stronger club than the one she asked for. But today Jenny didn’t trust her caddy, wouldn’t talk to him. Her approach on the second 'was short of the apron; Peg Hallock’s rolled up to the shadow of the pin. And Jenny was two down.
My fault! Lannigan thought. Mine!
They halved the third. They traded the fourth and fifth. The sixth was a short hole. Jenny gauged the strength of the wind. She used a three iron; a two would have done the job. Her shot was beautiful, high-arching, clean—and short. Jenny was three down then. She was still three down at the turn.
THE tenth tee. Nine holes gone;
27 to go. Lannigan searched the crowd for Dusty’s shining face. If he could bow out and let that grinning boy slouch along under Jenny’s bag then the pressure would be gone and Jenny would have a chance. No luck. “For 20 bucks an’ a old friend,” Dusty’d said, “I go a long way.” Apparently he had.
“Miss Hallock’s honor,” Samuels said.
Peg Hallock drove. She was out front— three upand you could see it in her game. She was a powerhouse, a little ball of fire. Her woods were long; her short irons tied to the pin. She had a smile for the gallery and a smile for Jenny. But that was Peg. She had been on top of the heap for three years and it had done something to her, something not so nice.
She was tall and blond and on the handsome side. The outdoor type.
Maclean's Magazine, April 15, 1944
Kissing her, Lannigan decided, would be like kissing a two iron. It would be cold. You’d get the smell of turf; you’d think of golf balls. Kids to Peg would be the little guys who carry golf bags. Caddies. She’d be sweet until the going got rough. Then she’d cut your throat, or your grandmother’s, or her grandmother’s, if she had to do that to win.
Lannigan had been thinking of this, trying to explain, the night—things blew up in his face. Now he could see how silly he’d been. Even if Jenny had heard him out it would have done no good. Maybe you had to grow up with the smell of shellac and leather to understand. Maybe—but memory had him then, the caddyhouse. The mountain of clubs waiting to be cleaned and buffed and put away. The practice course where you ran your legs off shagging balls while your dad tried to cure some Sunday golfer’s slice.
His father—Joe Lannigan, Sr.— stocky and blond, with an easy grin and the squint that comes of watching the white flight of a ball into the sun. Brown face and hands. Good wrists; a golfer’s wrists. He’d been up there once. Runner-up in the Canadian Open. Second money and a pro’s job at Wonderly. Ten dollars a lesson. A red roadster with a cutout you could hear for a mile. He’d made a set of clubs for Joe. “You’ve five now. It’s time you were our there hitting ’em.”
The next year Joe, Sr. had been one of the names in fine print, one of the also-rans. A new pro had come to Wonderly. “We’re movin’, son. We got a job at Riverside.” They’d tried the money loop that winter, but the powerhouse boys were on their way up then—the cocky kids whose screaming wood shots tore all the old course records to bits, and remade the game. Joe Sr. and his son had come home to two cluttered rooms above the caddyhouse. Assistant pro and caddymaster. Lessons: One Dollar Each.
The rest of it was bright in Joe Lannigan’s mind. The set of matched irons his father had given him when he was nine. The caddy championship he’d won when he was 12. And then— the district championship, the provincial. His eighteenth birthday, his father saying, “We can manage the entrance fee. You’d better take a cut at the Open this year, just for the experience.” His, own voice saying, “No, Dad.” The puzzled look his father had given him, his troubled, “Why not, Joe?”
“Money golf’s a full-time job,” he’d said. “I want to be an engineer, and that’s a full-time job too. And I’ve got another reason, Dad. The best reason in the world. It’s standing right here in front of me.”
Joe, Sr. had let his breath go. He’d forced a grin. “Sure, son,” he’d said. “I see what you mean.”
SAMUELS said, “You’re away, Miss Strand.”
Jenny crouched to line up her putt. Her face was wooden as she studied the slope of the green, the close-cropped turf. Three holes of the second nine were gone; the score standard read: Strand. Four down.
The bamboo of the pin was rough under Lannigan’s sweating palm. He had pulled the flag tightly down so it could not flap; he made sure his shadow lay well away from the line of Jenny’s putt. Twice she began her stroke, only to stop when someone moved or coughed. Then the ball curved crisply away from the putter’s blade, curved and faded across 20 feet of glassy turf and froze on the lip of the cup. The gallery sighed and then held its breath while Peg Hallock rammed her short putt home.
“Hard luck,” she said. “Sorry, dear.”
“It’s part of the game,” Jenny said. Lannigan damned Peg Hallock under his breath. He stood at Jenny’s side as they waited on the fourteenth tee. “You were robbed,” he whispered. “You should have halved that hole.” Her brief glance touched his face; her voice was cold. “Save the buildup,” she said. “I know how you feel. You like to see me lose.”
He said, “You’re wrong!”
And when she turned away from him he finished that in his mind: “It’s not the winning or the losing I care about, Jenny. It’s the day somewhere out ahead of you—the day when you have to win, and can’t.” Then, inwardly, he allowed himself a small and bitter grin. Here was another thing that made no sense, unless you had lived with it.
So it went back to the caddyhouse. The root of the trouble was there. He couldn’t forget Lottie Reed, Mrs. Hamilton, Babe Simms, and the others who’d been at the top of the heap before Peg Hallock came along. Oddly, they’d been pretty much alike in the beginning. Golf was, just a game and swell fun, win or lose. But they’d changed. The galleries, the photographers and the press might have had a part in it. Or maybe it was something inside—something that thrived on excitement and applause and kept you out there trying when you’d passed the peak of your game. When you had to win and couldn’t. When whatever it was that drove you turned hard and cold, and you learned all the tricks, the nasty little tricks others had used to help squeeze out a win. They tried— they all went on trying. And for what? A silver cup to put on the mantel, to show the children you didn’t have.
LANNIGAN’S face was bleak as he À went to the pin on the eighteenth. Jenny was still five down. Pressure had drawn the flesh tight across her cheekbones; had flattened the line of her lips. “Cheer,” she whispered. “You wanted me to lose!” And there was no way he could tell her how wrong she was. The Jenny he loved was gone. This was Little Miss Sphinx, one of the finalists. The old pattern was repeating once again.
Both girls were short of the cup in five. Lannigan watched the rest of it from the edge of the green. Both girls were down in six; they halved the hole. The gallery broke and swarmed up the clubhouse path, hurrying away to lunch. Ben Samuels came to Lannigan’s side.
“Have a sandwich with me,” he said.
“No,” said Lannigan. “But thanks, Ben.”
He climbed the path, his shoulders bent against the solid weight of Jenny’s bag. Old habit took him past the clubhouse, past the parking lot, and around the caddyshack. He put Jenny’s bag on the window ledge there.
“Joe,” the caddymaster said, “how’s the boy?” He was wind-burned and brown, barely more than a kid. “Tough about Jenny. Peg’s really burnin’ up th’ course.”
“Yes,” said Lannigan. “She’s hot.” There were benches scattered around the cluttered room; Lannigan found a seat. This was the bull pen. In the days that were gone he’d waited here, taking his turn with the other kids. The place hadn’t changed. The crap game was still going in one corner; a wise brat was telling the world what was wrong with Jenny’s game. “It’s her wrists. She don’t get ’em through the shot.”
Lannigan said, “Is Dusty around?” Several voices answered him: “A
minute ago he was. Shootin’ craps with Red an’ Allah.” And a freckled kid in knickers said, “I’ll get him for yuh, Joe.”
Lannigan took a cigarette from the pocket of his blouse. He’d bow out now. He’d thumb a ride back to town and the railroad station. He’d hurt Jenny enough. Let Dusty carry her bag. Then, oddly, he thought of Samuel’s reporter friends. They’d have fun with this; they really would. “She was five down at the eighteenth so he took a runout powder. She loses the match and her boy friend, too.”
Dusty said, “You want me, Joe?” Lannigan looked up at the boy.
“No,” he said. “I’ve changed my mind.”
He found Jenny in the clubhouse dining room. She was sitting at a corner table, away from the swirl and clamor, the laughter and the noise. A rawboned lathe of a man stood close by, bald and owlishly solemn. He was saying, “But you’ve got to eat, Jenny. All God’s children got to eat.”
Lannigan said, “Hello, Jenny.”
She turned her eyes to him but did not speak. The tall man hiccuped gravely. “It’s the soldier,” he said, “and just the man we need. Tell Jenny she’s got to eat something. She won’t listen to me.”
“I’ll tell her,” Lannigan said.
“Good boy,” the man said. “Good soldier.”
He saluted with his glass and went away. Jenny bent her head, making a slow and precise task of stubbing out her cigarette. Her salad and her milk were both untouched. “Thanks,” she said in a shadowed voice. “He was something of a bother.”
“But he was right. You should eat.” “I’m not hungry,” Jenny said. Nerves, Lannigan thought. A fine case of galloping jitters. Her stomach’s tied in a knot. He sat down facing her. “Maybe you’re smart to skip the salad,” he said quietly. “But you ought to drink your milk.”
“Are you going to be a bother too?” “For just a little while,” he said.
She didn’t look at him, didn’t speak. Lannigan let his breath go. In camp and on the train everything had seemed so simple. He’d forgotten the old arguments; he’d made himself forget. But Jenny hadn’t forgotten. The old trouble was big again and real again, and the dream was a bad taste in his mouth. He was part of Jenny’s past, just a guy she’d known in the long ago.
“Look,” he said. “I did pay Dusty to duck out. But not because I wanted to hurt you, Jenny. And not because I wanted you to lose.”
“I had an idea.” He moved his hands. “It was a wild pitch and not important now. But Peg Hallock is important, Jenny. You can beat her.” “Not with you around,” she said. “Why not? I know the course and I know your game. I’ve lugged your bag in plenty of tournaments.”
“Not since ...”
He stopped her there. “Not since we had that fight,” he said. “Was a time when I thought a woman’s place—your place—was in the nineties. Sure. When I was a small fry I walked home with a redhead who could spit through her teeth. But times change, Pigeon. The redhead’s gone, and with us it’s ...” “All over,” Jenny said.
Carefully, Lannigan said, “Yes. It’s over and done.” He took a cigarette from a package on the table. “So there’s no point in you fighting both Lannigan and Hallock. That’s what got you into this spot, Pigeon.” “Perhaps,” she said.
“I’m your caddy. I was your teacher once. You can beat Hallock if you’ll let me help. You’re underclubbing, Jenny. You did it all morning.”
“So I’ll pick the clubs for you,” he said. “And I’ll give you hell when you forget about that right hand and start
hooking. You relax. Concentrate on .slugging the ball. Do that and you'll beat Hallock.”
Jenny almost smiled.
“It’s a deal,” she said.
THE gallery crowd had thickened but that didn’t seem to matter now. Jenny’s drive was long and low, with only a hint of a hook. “This time 1 didn’t forget,” she said. “1 played it that way for the roll.”
He said, “Good. Now use a spoon.” “Wouldn’t a two iron be . ?”
“A spoon,” he said. “And hit this one.”
“If I’m over the green I’ll cut your throat.”
But she wasn’t over the green. She got into the shot strongly— legs, arms, shoulders, and the full whip of her wrists. A storm of applause swept the gallery.
“You’re on,” Lannigan said. “Pin high.”
Jenny smiled. “And now we go.” She two-putted that green for a win. She picked up another hole when a trap caught Peg Hallock’s high approach on the twenty-first. She was three down then; still three down at the twenty-fourth. This time it was Lannigan who gauged the strength of the wind and picked her club. Jenny was two down at the twenty-fifth.
Lannigan watched Peg Hallock’s face while Jenny drove. Peg was not smiling now, and when she turned her head the cords of her neck stood out whip-tight against the skin. Worried, Lannigan decided. And more than a little scared.
He thought of that as they climbed the hill on the long twenty-fifth, and again on the twenty-seventh. Jenny was one down then, and the white look had come to Peg Hallock’s mouth. Peg was an old campaigner; she knew the signs. The gallery was solidly with Jenny; they always love the underdog. And tournament records are full of tales of champions beaten by an unknown whose game has suddenly taken fire from some small thing —an approach that trickled into the cup, or a lucky bounce that took a wood shot across a yawning trap.
When they reached the twentyeighth the score standard read: Strand. One down. And Jenny said, “One down and nine to go. I’m going to win, Joe.
I m going to take that cup away from Peg.”
“Yes,” he said quietly. “You will.” He watched the stewards run with the ropes, watched the crowd spill out across the fairway, hurrying toward the distant green. He remembered the clubhouse dining room. “All over,” Jenny d said, and she’d been right. He’d carried her bag hoping to patch things up. “Lannigan,” he told himself, “you never had a chance.”
“Thanks,” Jenny said. “You’ve helped.”
The crooked grin touched his mouth. “Better wait till you get the cup before you toss the thanks around,” he said. And in his mind he added, “That help of mine, call it a good-by present for the Jenny I used to know.”
Ben Samuels said, “Your honor, Miss Strand.”
The match was all square on the thirtieth, and again on the thirtythird. Peg Hallock’s face was old; there was a nervous twitching in her hands. She was pressing now. She tried to steer her wood shot and the result was a wicked little slice that put her deep in the rough. Lannigan saw her eyes in the instant of her turning. Despair was naked there.
Jenny said, “She’s scared, Joe.”
“Don’t bet on it,” he said.
Jenny murmured, “I won’t,” but her smile was wise. She was right and she knew it. More, she was riding high. The strain was gone. This was her day,
Maclean's Magazine, April 15, 1944
her match, and she was sure of that as you can be when golf is your life.
“Let’s don’t fight,” she said. “Come out to the house tonight. We’ll play the phonograph—all the old records. We’ll dance and we’ll talk. Please, Joe.”
“Sure,” he said. “Sure, Jenny.”
And for a moment the longing was strong in him. An open fire and Jenny, little Jenny. The golden crying of a muted horn ... He set his teeth against that thought; he wiped the picture from his mind. “No,” he told himself. “Whatever happens, this is the last go ’round. She’s on her way now. This year or next she’ll be on top of the pile. A machine and a golfer, but not a woman. Not the Jenny he’d known ...”
Peg Hallock’s recovery was good. Her long putt stopped on the lip of the cup. Jenny knocked the ball away. Strain and wanting cut deep lines at the corners of Peg’s mouth. A cathedral hush held the gallery as Jenny bent to putt. Her backswing was smooth, and then Peg Hallock coughed. Jenny tightened at the harsh and unexpected sound. She stabbed at the ball. Her putt was wide of the cup.
“Sorry,” Peg said. “So sorry, dear.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Jenny said.
Her voice was cool and edged. There was anger in the stiff set of her shoulders as she climbed the path to the next tee. One down again. The river was on the left now; the last two holes lay along its gently curving bank.
“The homestretch,” Lannigan said.
JENNY didn’t answer him. She was looking at Peg, frowning. Lannigan turned away. Disgust was in him now. Peg’s sudden cough was old, old stuff. But all the tricks were old: the sharp crackling of paper, the bag that fell from the tee box just as someone drove. Cheap, nasty tricks, born of a desperate need to win. They made you sick inside sick, because you remembered the Peg Hallock of five years ago. Babe Simms had handed her a pasting then, and Peg had laughed. But not now: not ever again. Peg had forgotten how to lose.
The match went on. Both girls reached the green in three. And there Peg Hallock cracked. Four times she tried to still the trembling in her hands. Four times her ball ran by the cup. She gave it up, at last. She picked up her ball and walked off the green. Jenny said not a word but Lannigan saw a curiously speculative look come into her eyes as they followed the other girl.
“All square,” said Samuels. “One hole to go.”
Lannigan said, “She’s yours, Pigeon.”
And he was right. Even the gallery knew. It was in the faces, in the hushed whispers of those who were banked around the tee. The heart and fight had gone out of Peg Hallock. She was huddled on the bench, head bent, her chin propped cupped hands.
Jenny went out to drive. She was grave and small up there, taking her stance, fitting her hands to the club. She was Little Miss Sphinx and this was the kill. She’d have that silver cup for the mantel now. Her name would be engraved below the other names. She could read down the list—Lottie Reed, Babe Simms, Peg Hallock—and find it there: Jennifer Strand. Champion.
He didn’t see her drive, but he heard the gallery groan. He heard Ben Samuels say, “Out of bounds. Loss of stroke and distance.” And that meant Jenny’d hooked her tee shot into the thick brush of the river bank. "That right hand!” Lannigan said. Jenny said, “I’m shooting three.”
She hooked again. Lannigan saw the
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ball curve?, far out; saw the white
splash mar the cool green of the river. “Out of bounds,” Ben Samuels said. “Stroke and distance, Miss Strand.” Coolly, Jenny said, “I’m shooting five.”
That shot was good. Pc?g Hallock drove, a smiling Peg who slammed one far down the middle. The gallery streamed away. Lannigan walked at Jenny’s side.
“Pigeon,” he whispered. “Why?”
“1 forgot about my right hand.” “You’ve never hooked like that, never in your whole life! You . . .” He left it there, his voice turning rough. “You won’t have a cup now. What about that?”
Maclean's Magazine, April IS, 1944
“I’ve been thinking, Joe. You saw what happened on that green. Peg didn’t use to do things like that; really she didn’t. And I caught myself wanting to get even. 1 was ready to do anything I had to do to win.”
“But you couldn’t,” he said.
“I came close, Joe. Too close.” She looked up at him, a warm shining in her eyes. “Then I decided that cup was too big. I didn’t really want it, I guess. I’m going to collect another kind. The little ones the silver mugs you put away and save after all your kids have grown up.”
“Hey !” he said. “Jenny!”
Softly, she said, “Will I see you tonight?”
“Yes,” he said. “You really will.”