Punch, September 2, 1903


Mr. Punch, Sir,—It has been my intention to submit for your delectation a few notes of my proposed cricket drama. Like myself, you must often have thought how necessary to the literature of the country such a drama was. England has waited for a man to come forward fit for the task of penning it. I am that man.

In order not to spoil the enjoyment of the thousands who will see the play at Drury Lane, I give you merely the final scene, in extracts. My heroine’s father, for reasons which it would take too long to explain, has promised the hero her hand on condition that he scores a century in the forthcoming Test Match. (My hero obtained a place in the team owing to the fact that most of the other cricketers in the country refused to play.) Very well, then.

SceneLord’s. Captain of the Australian team discovered placing his field.

Captain. Sirs, to your posts. Friend Slinger, you begin
At the pavilion end, and place your men
Exactly as you want ’em.

    *    *    *    *    *
But hark! methought I heard applause;
Man in.

[My Hero and his Partner come in. My Hero prepares to take first ball.

Hero.      Sir Umpire, does this cover both?

Umpire. It do, Sir.

Hero.      Thank you. Bowler, I’m prepared;
Bowl, Sir, and do your worst; I’ll brave your wrath.
Come shooter, yorker, length ’un, ay, or break back,
J’y suis, j’y reste; that observation’s French.
Now, Sir, deliver.

Ah, a nice one, that.
Fair in the center of this willow blade.
The matchless work of Slogbury and Whangham.
Caught I it crisply. This, indeed, is Life.

Bowler. A murrain on the fate that makes men bowl
Long-hops. But courage! Once again I’ll try.

    *    *    *    *    *

[Game proceeds. Hero scores rapidly, but at ninety-nine is appealed against for a catch at the wicket.

Bowler. Meseemed I heard a click, and lo! the ball
Rests safely in the wicket-keeper’s hands.
Umpire, how was that?

Hero.           Stay, Sir Umpire, stay,
Nor give your fell decision ere you’ve heard me.
I swear by   *    *    *    *
I touched it not. Two inches clear—and more—
Inside it did I play; the click you heard
Was but the grass, or else perchance the strap,
The leathern strap that girds my snowy pad,
Which, flapping to and fro beneath the breath
Of Zephyrus, produced a bat-like sound.

Bowler. Nay, shame upon you, knave, to seek to sway
With arguments unworthy of a sportsman
This good official’s verdict. Get thee hence
To the pavilion.

Hero.        Umpire, heed him not.
The man is biassed. Once again I swear
This blade of mine was nowhere near the ball.

Bowler. Umpire—but who is this? Look, comrades, look,
From off a coach that stands beside the ropes
I marked a lady, young, of wondrous beauty,
And garbed right up to what they term “the nines,”
Spring. And behold! she paces now towards us,
As if to take a hand in the discussion.

[Heroine enters, and flings herself before Umpire.

Heroine. Man of the snow-white coat, I crave a boon.

Umpire. Say on, fair damsel; nought can I refuse thee,
Having from earliest youth been werry glad
To oblige the sect as far as in me lies.

Heroine. Then hear me. My Papa has sworn an oath
That Edwin—that’s the gentleman before you—
Shall never marry me with his consent
Unless he notch a century to-day.
Look at that board; his score’s at ninety-nine.
If he should fail to score that hundredth run
Edwin, I know, will shoot himself to-night,
While I shall be compelled by my Papa
To wed some rich stockbroker, who will spend
The fleeting moments of our wedded life
In walking now from London down to Brighton,
Now back again from Brighton up to London,
’Gainst time. So save me.

Umpire.           Look on it as done.
A heart of flint would melt before such pleadings.

Bowler. I, too, am moved. I beg to waive my claims.
And, if the lady will but stand aside,
I’ll send thee down a slow long-hop to leg,
And true love’s course will once again run smooth.

[Does so, with result anticipated.

There is more, but you must have already caught the general idea. Enough. I will send you a box.

Yours, &c.,    Henry William-Jones.




Unsigned playlet as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 125 of Punch.