The Elks Magazine, July 1922
THE young man flung his bag of clubs with a clatter on the floor of the smoking-room and sank moodily into an armchair. He pressed the bell.
“You may have these clubs. Take them away. If you don’t want them yourself, give them to one of the caddies.’’
Across the room the Oldest Member eyed him with a grave sadness through the smoke of his pipe. He was not unprepared for this attitude on the part of his young friend. From his eyrie on the terrace above the ninth green he had observed him start out on the afternoon’s round and had seen him drop a couple of balls in the lake after doing the first hole in seven.
“You are giving up golf?” he said.
“Yes!” cried the young man fiercely. “Yes! For ever, dammit! Footling game! Blanked infernal fat-headed silly ass of a game! Nothing but a waste of time.”
The Sage winced.
“Don’t say that, my boy.”
“But I do say it. What good is golf? Life is stern and life is earnest. We live in a practical age. All round us we see Foreign Competition making itself unpleasant. Is golf any use? Can you name me a single case where devotion to this pestilential pastime has done a man any practical good?”
The Sage smiled gently.
“I could name a thousand.”
“One will do.”
“I will select,” said the Sage, “from the innumerable memories that rush to my mind, the story of J. Cuthbert Banks.”
“Never heard of him.”
“Be of good cheer,” said the Oldest Member. “You are going to hear of him now.”
It was in the picturesque little settlement of Wood Hills (said the Oldest Member) that the incidents occurred which I am about to relate. Even if you have never been in Wood Hills, that Suburban Paradise is probably familiar to you by name. Situated at a convenient distance from the city, it combines in a notable manner the advantages of town life with the pleasant surroundings and healthful air of the country. Its inhabitants live in commodious houses, standing in their own grounds, and enjoy so many luxuries—such as gravel soil, main drainage, electric light, telephone, baths (h. and c.), and Company’s own water, that you might be pardoned for imagining life to be so ideal for them that no possible improvement could be added to their lot. Mrs. Willoughby Smethurst was under no such delusion. What Wood Hills needed to make it perfect, she realized, was Culture. Material comforts are all very well, but, if the summum bonum is to be achieved, the Soul also demands a look in, and it was Mrs. Smethurst’s unfaltering resolve that never while she had her strength should the Soul be handed the loser’s end. It was her intention to make Wood Hills a center of all that was most cultivated and refined, and golly! how she had succeeded. Under her presidency the Wood Hills Literary and Debating Society had tripled its membership.
But there is always a fly in the ointment, a caterpillar in the salad. The local golf club, an institution to which Mrs. Smethurst strongly objected, had also tripled its membership; and the division of the community into two rival camps, the Golfers and the Cultured, had become more marked than ever. This division, always acute, had attained now to the dimensions of a Schism. The rival sects treated one another with a cold hostility. Unfortunate episodes came to widen the breach. Mrs. Smethurst’s house adjoined the links, standing to the right of the fourth tee: and, as the Literary Society was in the habit of entertaining visiting lecturers, many a golfer had foozled his drive owing to sudden loud outbursts of applause coinciding with his down-swing. And not long before this story opens a sliced ball, whizzing in at the open window, had come within an ace of incapacitating Raymond Parsloe Devine, the rising young novelist (who rose at that moment a clear foot and a half) from any further exercise of his art. Two inches, indeed, to the right and Raymond must inevitably have handed in his dinner-pail.
To make matters worse, a ring at the front-door bell followed almost immediately, and the maid ushered in a young man of pleasing appearance in a sweater and baggy knickerbockers who apologetically but firmly insisted on playing his ball where it lay, and, what with the shock of the lecturer’s narrow escape and the spectacle of the intruder standing on the table and working away with a niblick, the afternoon’s session had to be classed as a complete frost. Mr. Devine’s determination, from which no argument could swerve him, to deliver the rest of his lecture in the coal-cellar, gave the meeting a jolt from which it never recovered.
I have dwelt upon this incident, because it was the means of introducing Cuthbert Banks to Mrs. Smethurst’s niece, Adeline. As Cuthbert, for it was he who had so nearly reduced the muster-roll of rising novelists by one, hopped down from the table after his strike, he was suddenly aware that a beautiful girl was looking at him intently. As a matter of fact, everyone in the room was looking at him intently, none more so than Raymond Parsloe Devine, but none of the others were beautiful girls. Long as the members of Wood Hills Literary Society were on brain, they were short on looks, and to Cuthbert’s excited eye, Adeline Smethurst stood out like a jewel in a pile of coke. He had never seen her before, for she had only arrived at her aunt’s house on the previous day, but he was perfectly certain that life, even when lived in the midst of gravel soil, main drainage, and Company’s own water, was going to be a pretty poor affair if he did not see her again. Yes, Cuthbert was in love: and it is interesting to record, as showing the effect of the tender emotion on a man’s game, that twenty minutes after he had met Adeline he did the short eleventh in one and as near as a toucher got a three on the four-hundred-yard twelfth.
I will skip lightly over the intermediate stages of Cuthbert’s courtship and come to the moment when—at the annual ball in aid of the local Cottage Hospital, the only occasion during the year on which the lion, so to speak, lay down with the lamb and the Golfers and the Cultured met on terms of easy comradeship, their differences temporarily laid aside—he proposed to Adeline and was badly stymied.
THAT fair, soulful girl could not see him with a spy-glass.
“Mr. Banks,” she said, “I will speak frankly.”
“Charge right ahead,” assented Cuthbert.
“Deeply sensible as I am of . . .”
“I know. Of the honor and the compliment and all that. But, passing lightly over all that—er—guff, what seems to be the trouble? I love you to distraction. . . .”
“Love is not everything.”
“You’re wrong,” said Cuthbert earnestly. “You’re right off it. Love . . .” And he was about to dilate on the theme when she interrupted him.
“I am a girl of ambition.”
“And very nice, too,” said Cuthbert.
“I am a girl of ambition,” repeated Adeline, “and I realize that the fulfilment of my ambitions must come through my husband. I am very ordinary myself. . . .”
“What!” cried Cuthbert. “You ordinary? Why, you are a pearl among women, the queen of your sex. You can’t have been looking in a glass lately. You stand alone. Simply alone. You make the rest look like battered repaints.”
“Well,” said Adeline, softening a trifle, “I believe I am fairly good-looking. . . .”
“Anybody who was content to call you fairly good-looking would describe the Taj Mahal as a pretty nifty tomb.”
“But that is not the point. What I mean is, if I marry a nonentity, I shall be a nonentity myself for ever. And I would sooner die than be a nonentity.”
“And, if I follow your reasoning, you think that that lets me out?”
“Well, really, Mr. Banks, have you done anything or are you likely ever to do anything worth while?”
“It’s true,” he said, “I didn’t finish in the first ten in the Open and I was knocked out in the semi-final of the Amateur, but I won the French Open last year.”
“The French Open Championship. Golf, you know.”
“Golf! You waste all your time playing golf.”
“Waste!” faltered Cuthbert.
“I admire a man who is more spiritual, more intellectual.” A pang of jealousy rent Cuthbert’s bosom.
“Like What’s-his-name Devine?” he said sullenly.
“Mr. Devine,” replied Adeline, blushing faintly, “is going to be a great man. Already he has achieved much. The critics say that he is more Russian than any other young American writer.”
“And is that good?”
“Of course it’s good.”
“I should have thought the wheeze would be to be more American than any other young American writer.”
“Nonsense! Who wants an American writer to be American? You’ve got to be Russian or Spanish or something to be a real success. The mantle of the great Russians has descended on Mr. Devine.”
“From what I’ve heard of Russians, I should hate to have that happen to me.”
“There is no danger of that,” said Adeline scornfully.
“Oh! Well, let me tell you that there is a lot more in me than you think.”
“That might easily be so.”
“You think I’m not spiritual and intellectual,” said Cuthbert, deeply moved. “Very well. Tomorrow I join the Literary Society.”
Even as he spoke the words, his leg was itching to kick himself for being such a chump, but the sudden expression of pleasure on Adeline’s face soothed him; and he went home that night with the feeling that he had taken on something rather attractive. It was only in the cold gray light of the morning that he realized what he had let himself in for.
I do not know if you have had any experience of suburban literary societies, but the one that flourished under the eye of Mrs. Willoughby Smethurst at Wood Hills was rather more so than the average. With my feeble powers of narrative, I cannot hope to make clear to you all that Cuthbert Banks endured in the next few weeks. And, even if I could, I doubt if I should do so. It is all very well to excite pity and terror, as Aristotle recommends, but there are limits. In the ancient Greek tragedies, it was an iron-clad rule that all the real rough stuff should take place off-stage, and I shall follow this admirable principle. It will suffice if I say merely that J. Cuthbert Banks had a thin time. After attending eleven debates and fourteen lectures on vers libre poetry, the Seventeenth Century Essayists, the Neo-Scandinavian movement in Portuguese literature, and other subjects of a similar nature, he grew so enfeebled that, on the rare occasions when he had time for a visit to the links, he had to take a full iron for his mashie-shots.
It was not simply the oppressive nature of the debates and lectures that sapped his vitality. What really got right in amongst him was the torture of seeing Adeline’s adoration of Raymond Parsloe Devine. The man seemed to have made the deepest possible impression upon her plastic emotions. When he spoke, she leaned forward with parted lips and looked at him. When he was not speaking—which was seldom—she leaned back and looked at him. And when he happened to take the next seat to her, she leaned sideways and looked at him. One glance at Mr. Devine would have been more than enough for Cuthbert; but Adeline found him a spectacle that never palled. She could not have gazed at him with a more rapturous intensity if she had been a small child and he a saucer of ice-cream. All this Cuthbert had to witness while still endeavoring to retain the possession of his faculties sufficiently to enable him to duck and back away if somebody suddenly asked him what he thought of the somber realism of Vladimir Brusiloff. It is little wonder that he tossed in bed, picking at the coverlet, through sleepless nights, and had to have all his waistcoats taken in three inches to keep them from sagging.
This Vladimir Brusiloff to whom I have referred was the famous Russian novelist, and owing to the fact of his being in the country on a lecturing tour at the moment there had been something of a boom in his works. The Wood Hills Literary Society had been studying them for weeks, and never since his first entrance into intellectual circles bad Cuthbert Banks come nearer to throwing in the towel. Vladimir specialized in gray studies of hopeless misery where nothing happened till page three hundred and eighty, when the moujik decided to commit suicide. It was tough going for a man whose deepest reading hitherto had been Vardon on the Push-Shot, and there can be no greater proof of the magic of love than the fact that Cuthbert stuck it without a cry. But the strain was terrible, and I am inclined to think that he must have cracked, had it not been for the daily reports in the papers of the internecine strife which was proceeding so briskly in Russia. Cuthbert was an optimist at heart, and it seemed to him that, at the rate at which the inhabitants of that interesting country were murdering one another, the supply of Russian novelists must eventually give out.
One morning, as he tottered down the road for the short walk which was now almost the only exercise to which he was equal, Cuthbert met Adeline. A spasm of anguish flitted through all his nerve-centers as he saw that she was accompanied by Raymond Parsloe Devine.
“Good morning, Mr. Banks,” said Adeline.
“Good morning,” said Cuthbert hollowly.
“Such good news about Vladimir Brusiloff.”
“Dead?” said Cuthbert with a touch of hope.
“Dead? Of course not. Why should he be? No, Aunt Emily met his manager after his lecture at Carnegie Hall yesterday, and he has promised that Mr. Brusiloff shall come to her next Wednesday reception.”
“Oh, ah?” said Cuthbert dully.
“I don’t know how she managed it. I think she must have told him that Mr. Devine would be there to meet him.”
“But you said he was coming,” argued Cuthbert.
“I shall be very glad,” said Raymond Devine, “of the opportunity of meeting Brusiloff.”
“I’m sure,” said Adeline, “he will be very glad of the opportunity of meeting you.”
“Possibly,” said Mr. Devine. “Possibly. Competent critics have said that my work closely resembles that of the Great Russian Masters.”
“Your psychology is so deep.”
“And your atmosphere.”
Cuthbert in a perfect agony of spirit prepared to withdraw from this love-feast. The sun was shining brightly, but the world was black to him. Birds sang in the tree-tops, but he did not hear them. He might have been a moujik for all the pleasure he found in life.
“You will be there, Mr. Banks?” said Adeline, as he turned away.
“Oh, all right,” said Cuthbert.
When Cuthbert had entered the drawing-room on the following Wednesday and had taken his usual place in a distant corner where, while able to feast his gaze on Adeline, he had a sporting chance of being overlooked or mistaken for a piece of furniture, he perceived the great Russian thinker seated in the midst of a circle of admiring females. Raymond Parsloe Devine had not yet arrived.
His first glance at the novelist surprised Cuthbert. Doubtless with the best motives, Vladimir Brusiloff had permitted his face to become almost entirely concealed behind a dense zareba of hair, but his eyes were visible through the undergrowth, and it seemed to Cuthbert that there was an expression in them not unlike that of a cat in a strange backyard surrounded by small boys. The man looked forlorn and hopeless, and Cuthbert wondered whether he had had bad news from home.
This was not the case. The latest news which Vladimir Brusiloff had had from Russia had been particularly cheering. Three of his principal creditors had perished in the last massacre of the bourgeoisie, and a man whom he had owed for five years for a samovar and a pair of overshoes had fled the country and had not been heard of since. It was not bad news from home that was depressing Vladimir. What was wrong with him was the fact that this was the eighty-second suburban literary reception he had been compelled to attend since he had landed in America on his lecturing-tour, and he was sick to death of it. When his agent had first suggested the trip, he had signed on the dotted line without an instant’s hesitation. Worked out in roubles, the fees offered had seemed just about right. But now, as he peered through the brushwood at the faces round him and realized that eight out of ten of those present had manuscripts of some sort concealed on their persons and were only waiting for an opportunity to whip them out and start reading, he wished that he had stayed at his quiet home in Nijni-Novgorod, where the worst thing that could happen to a fellow was a brace of bombs coming in through the window and mixing themselves up with his breakfast egg.
At this point in his meditations he was aware that his hostess was looming up before him with a pale young man in horn-rimmed spectacles at her side. There was in Mrs. Smethurst’s demeanor something of the unction of the master of ceremonies at the big fight who introduces the earnest gentleman who wishes to challenge the winner.
“Oh, Mr. Brusiloff,” said Mrs. Smethurst, “I do so want you to meet Mr. Raymond Parsloe Devine, whose work I expect you know. He is one of our younger novelists.”
The distinguished visitor peered in a wary and defensive manner through the shrubbery, but did not speak. Inwardly he was thinking how exactly like Mr. Devine was to the eighty-one other younger novelists to whom he had been introduced at various hamlets throughout the country. Raymond Parsloe Devine bowed courteously, while Cuthbert, wedged into his corner, glowered at him.
“The critics,” said Mr. Devine, “have been kind enough to say that my poor efforts contain a good deal of the Russian spirit. I owe much to the great Russians. I have been greatly influenced by Sovietski.”
Down in the forest something stirred. It was Vladimir Brusiloff’s mouth opening, as he prepared to speak. He was not a man who prattled readily, especially in a foreign tongue. He gave the impression that each word was excavated from his interior by some up-to-date process of mining. He glared bleakly at Mr. Devine, and then allowed three words to drop out of him.
“Sovietski no good!”
HE paused for a moment, set the machinery working again, and delivered five more at the pit-head.
“I spit me of Sovietski!”
There was a painful sensation. The lot of a popular idol is in many ways an enviable one, but it has the drawback of uncertainty. Here today and gone tomorrow. Until this moment Raymond Parsloe Devine’s stock had stood at something considerably over par in Wood Hills intellectual circles, but now there was a rapid slump. Hitherto he had been greatly admired for being influenced by Sovietski, but it appeared now that this was not a good thing to be. It was evidently a rotten thing to be. The law could not touch you for being influenced by Sovietski, but there is an ethical as well as a legal code, and this it was obvious that Raymond Parsloe Devine had transgressed. Women drew away from him slightly, holding their skirts. Men looked at him censoriously. Adeline Smethurst started violently and dropped a tea-cup. And Cuthbert Banks, doing his popular imitation of a sardine in his corner, felt for the first time that life held something of sunshine.
Raymond Parsloe Devine was plainly shaken, but he made an adroit attempt to recover his lost prestige.
“When I say I have been influenced by Sovietski, I mean of course, that I was once under his spell. A young writer commits many follies. I have long since passed through that phase. The false glamour of Sovietski has ceased to dazzle me. I now belong whole-heartedly to the school of Nastikoff.”
There was a reaction. People nodded at one another sympathetically. After all, we cannot expect old heads on young shoulders, and a lapse at the outset of one’s career should not be held against one who has eventually seen the light.
“Nastikoff no good,” said Vladimir Brusiloff coldly. He paused, listening to the machinery.
“Nastikoff worse than Sovietski.”
He paused again.
“I spit me of Nastikoff!” he said.
This time there was no doubt about it. The bottom had dropped out of the market, and Raymond Parsloe Devine Preferred was down in the cellar with no takers. It was clear to the entire assembled company that they had been all wrong about Mr. Raymond Parsloe Devine. They had allowed him to play on their innocence and sell them a pup. They had taken him at his own valuation and had been cheated into admiring him as a man who amounted to something, and all the while he had belonged to the school of Nastikoff. Mrs. Smethurst’s guests were well-bred and there was, consequently, no violent demonstration, but you could see by their faces what they felt. Those nearest Raymond Parsloe jostled to get further away. Mrs. Smethurst eyed him stonily through a raised lorgnette. One or two low hisses were heard, and over at the other end of the room somebody opened the window in a marked manner.
Raymond Parsloe Devine hesitated for a moment, then, realizing his situation, turned and slunk to the door. There was an audible sigh of relief as it closed behind him.
Vladimir Brusiloff proceeded to sum up.
“No novelists any good except me. Sovietski—yah! Nastikoff—bah! I spit me of zem all. No novelists anywhere any good except me. P. G. Wodehouse and Tolstoi not bad. Not good, but not bad. No novelists any good except me.”
And, having uttered this dictum, the human violet removed a slab of cake from a nearby plate, steered it through the jungle, and began to champ.
It is too much to say that there was a dead silence. There could never be that in any room in which Vladimir Brusiloff was eating cake. But certainly what you might call the general chit-chat was pretty well down and out. Nobody liked to be the first to speak. The members of the Wood Hills Literary Society looked at one another timidly. Cuthbert, for his part, gazed at Adeline; and Adeline gazed into space. It was plain that the girl was deeply stirred. Her eyes were opened wide, a faint flush crimsoned her cheeks, and her breath was coming quickly.
Adeline’s mind was in a whirl. She felt as if she had been walking gaily along a pleasant path and had stopped suddenly on the very brink of a precipice. It would be idle to deny that Raymond Parsloe Devine had attracted her extraordinarily. She had taken him at his own valuation as an extremely hot potato, and her hero-worship had gradually been turning into love. And now her hero had been shown to have feet of clay. It was hard, I consider, on Raymond Parsloe Devine, but that is how it goes in this world. You get a following as a celebrity, and then you run up against another bigger celebrity and your admirers desert you. One could moralize on this at considerable length, but better not, perhaps. Enough to say that the glamour of Raymond Devine ceased abruptly in that moment for Adeline, and her most coherent thought at this juncture was the resolve, as soon as she got up to her room, to burn the three signed photographs he had sent her, and to give the autographed presentation set of his books to the ice-man.
Mrs. Smethurst, meanwhile, having rallied somewhat, was endeavoring to set the feast of reason and flow of soul going again.
“And how do you like America, Mr. Brusiloff?” she asked.
The celebrity paused in the act of lowering another segment of cake.
“Damn good,” he replied cordially.
“I suppose you have traveled all over the country by this time?”
“You said it,” agreed the Thinker.
“Have you met many of our great public men?”
“Yais . . . Yais. . . . Quite a few of the nibs. . . . The President. . . . I meet him. . . . But—” Beneath the matting a discontented expression came into his face, and his voice took on a peevish note— “But I not meet your real great men . . . your Volterragin, your Yarker Sheeson. . . . I not meet them. That’s what gives me the pipovitch. Have you ever met Volterragin and Yarker Sheeson?”
A strained, anguished look came into Mrs. Smethurst’s face and was reflected in the faces of the other members of the circle. The eminent Russian had sprung two entirely new ones on them, and they felt that their ignorance was about to be exposed. What would Vladimir Brusiloff think of the Wood Hills Literary Society? The reputation of the Wood Hills Literary Society was at stake, trembling in the balance, and coming up for the third time. In dumb agony Mrs. Smethurst rolled her eyes about the room, searching for some one capable of coming to the rescue. She drew blank.
And then, from a distant corner, there sounded a deprecating cough, and those nearest Cuthbert Banks saw that he had stopped twisting his right foot round his left ankle and his left foot round his right ankle and was sitting up with a light almost of human intelligence in his eyes.
“Er . . .” said Cuthbert, blushing as every eye in the room seemed to fix itself on him, “I think he means Walter Hagen and Jock Hutchison.”
“Walter Hagen and Jock Hutchison?” repeated Mrs. Smethurst blankly. “I never heard of . . .”
“Yais! Yais! Most! Very!” shouted Vladimir Brusiloff enthusiastically. “Volterragin and Yarker Sheeson. You know them, yes what, no, perhaps?”
“I’ve played with Walter Hagen often, and I was partnered with Jock Hutchison in last year’s Open.”
The great Russian uttered a cry that shook the chandelier.
“You play in ze Open? Why,” he demanded reproachfully of Mrs. Smethurst, “was I not been introduced to this young man who plays in Opens?”
“Well, really,” faltered Mrs. Smethurst. “Well, the fact is, Mr. Brusiloff. . .”
She broke off. She was unequal to the task of explaining, without hurting anyone’s feelings, that she had always regarded Cuthbert as a piece of cheese and a blot on the landscape.
“Introduct me!” thundered the Celebrity.
“Why, certainly, certainly, of course. This is Mr.——” She looked appealingly at Cuthbert.
“Banks,” prompted Cuthbert.
“Banks!” cried Vladimir Brusiloff. “Not Cootaboot Banks?”
“Is your name Cootaboot?” asked Mrs. Smethurst faintly.
“Well, it’s Cuthbert.”
“Yais! Yais! Cootaboot!” There was a rush and swirl, as the effervescent Muscovite burst his way through the throng and rushed to where Cuthbert sat. He stood for a moment eying him excitedly, then, stooping swiftly, kissed him on both cheeks before Cuthbert could get his guard up. “My dear young man, I saw you win ze French Open. Great! Great! Grand! Superb! Hot stuff, and you can say I said so! Will you permit one who is but eighteen at Nijni-Novgorod to salute you once more?”
And he kissed Cuthbert again. Then, brushing aside one or two intellectuals who were in the way, he dragged up a chair and sat down.
“You are a great man!” he said.
“Oh, no,” said Cuthbert modestly.
“Yais! Great. Most! Very! The way you lay your approach-putts dead from anywhere!”
Mr. Brusiloff drew his chair closer.
“Let me tell you one vairy funny story about putting. It was one day I play at Nijni-Novgorod with the pro against Lenin and Trotzky, and Trotzky had a two-inch putt for the hole. But, just as he addresses the ball, some one in the crowd he tries to assassinate Lenin with a rewolwer—you know that is our great national sport, trying to assassinate Lenin with rewolwers—and the bang puts Trotzky off his stroke and he goes five yards past the hole, and then Lenin, who is rather shaken, you understand, he misses again himself, and we win the hole and match, and I clean up three hundred and ninety-six thousand roubles, or five dollars in your money. And now let me tell you one other vairy funny story. . . .”
Desultory conversation had begun in murmurs over the rest of the room, as the Wood Hills intellectuals politely endeavored to conceal the fact that they realized that they were about as much out of it at this reunion of twin souls as cats at a dog-show.
As for Adeline, how shall I describe her emotions? She was stunned. Before her very eyes the stone which the builders had rejected had become the main thing, the hundred-to-one shot had walked away with the race. A rush of tender admiration for Cuthbert Banks flooded her heart. She saw that she had been all wrong. Cuthbert, whom she had always treated with a patronizing superiority, was really a man to be looked up to and worshipped. A deep, dreamy sigh shook Adeline’s fragile form.
Half an hour later Vladimir and Cuthbert Banks rose.
“Goot-a-by, Mrs. Smet-thirst,” said the Celebrity. “Zank you for a most charming visit. My friend Cootaboot and me, we go now to shoot a few holes. You will lend me clobs, friend Cootaboot.”
“Any you want.”
“The niblicksky is what I use most. Goot-a-by, Mrs. Smet-thirst.”
They were moving to the door, when Cuthbert felt a light touch on his arm. Adeline was looking up at him tenderly.
“May I come too and walk round with you?”
Cuthbert’s bosom heaved.
“Oh,” he said with a tremor in his voice, “that you would walk round with me for life!”
Her eyes met his.
“Perhaps,” she whispered softly, “it could be arranged.”
“And so” (concluded the Oldest Member) “you see that Golf can be of the greatest practical assistance to a man in life’s struggle. Raymond Parsloe Devine, who was no player, had to move out of the neighborhood immediately, and is now, I believe, writing scenarios out in California for the Flicker Film Company. Adeline is married to Cuthbert, and it was only his earnest pleading which prevented her from having their eldest son christened Jock Hutchison Rib-Faced Mashie Banks, for she is now as keen a devotee of the great game as her husband. Those who know them say that theirs is a union so devoted, so. . . .”
The Sage broke off abruptly, for the young man had rushed to the door and out into the passage. Through the open door he could hear him crying passionately to the waiter to bring back his clubs.
This first publication of the Americanized version of the story has many of the same changes that appeared in the American book collection Golf Without Tears, but the versions are by no means identical. The first instance of Jock Hutchison is changed to Gene Sarazen in the American book, and the second one becomes Francis Ouimet Ribbed-Faced Mashie Banks. Other slight rewordings and additions were done between magazine and book versions on both sides of the Atlantic. The Strand magazine version of this story is also available on this site for purposes of comparison to the British text.
One inexplicable word in the text above must be a careless misreading; in the paragraph following “P. G. Wodehouse and Tolstoi not bad,” Brusiloff is referred to as “the human violet.” The Strand version reads “the human volcano” there, which makes a great deal more sense in context. (Both American and British book versions substitute merely “he” at this point.)
Printer’s errors corrected above:
Magazine had “Varden on the Push-Shot”; real name of golfer was Harry Vardon, as in other versions of the story.
Magazine had “Wood Hill intellectual circles”; corrected to Wood Hills for consistency, and as it appears in Golf Without Tears.
Magazine had “chat-chat”; corrected to “chit-chat” as in book.
Magazine had “partnered with Jock Hutchison in last year’s open”; corrected to “Open” for consistency, and as in book.