Politics and Billiards
“The papers are all crying ‘Gray must go’,” said
Minerva, as we sat finishing the Camembert; “what’s he
been doing to deserve this?”
“Making too big breaks, perhaps,” I suggested.
“It may be a sufficient reason from the point of view of
the ordinary professionals,” I went on, seeing that for once
the wise young woman had been surprised at the brilliance
of my deductive powers. “I should think that Gray hadn’t
done any good to the money-making side of professional billiards.
The gates of the ordinary players are sure to have
suffered very heavily, don’t you know, in consequence of
that young man’s intervention in the home coverts. After
having seen thousand-breaks few fellows would care to pay
to look on at hundreds being made. I wouldn’t do it
Still Minerva stared. I was having a glorious innings.
“And so, my dear, the pockets of the home professionals
being affected they must do something to protect themselves.
You can hardly blame them.”
“I was not dreaming of it for a single moment,” said
Minerva, looking at the clock.
“So they have decided that Gray must go! It’s a jolly
good idea. I wish I could settle my troubles and my opponents
as easily. Still, after all, I’m sorry for the lad. He
is a charming young man, and”
“My dear old Fooler,” interrupted Minerva, “I do wish
you would read the papers sometimes. It is Sir Edward
Grey that must gothe politician, you know.”
“Oh, politics be blowed! Come and have a game.”
I stared at the cloth in amazement. It was covered with
small brown streaky splashes from the top to the bottom
“Who the? What the!?” I began in my best
“Thanks awfully!” finished Minerva fervently. “Men
are born lucky. A mere woman could never have expressed
her feelings half so well. And now what is it?”
“That is what I want to know. What is it?” We
looked at each other blankly. “Who has been here since
Monday? It was all right then when I put the cover on.”
“I don’t know,” said Minerva helplessly, “unless its been
one of the maids.”
“Yes, but what is it?” I asked.
“Perhaps it’s Marion,” suggested Minerva.
“Marion has cut down very fine to be reduced to a thousand
dirty splashes,” I sneered.
“I’ll go and see,” said the home champion.
Marion is the new housemaid. The old one Minerva
insisted upon dismissing as soon as the Insurance Bill was
passedpartly because she was a bad health risk; and
partly because Minerva had stated at a public protest meeting
that if such a scandalously interfering measure became
law many a poor domestic servant would lose her means of
employment, and felt called upon to prove her allegations
as to the effects of the Bill. The new girl has been saying,
I believe, that the old was a bad worker as well as a bad
risk. And certainly Marion has been more in evidence with
her scrubbers and things than ever Jane was.
“Yes,” cried Minerva, flying into the room, “yes, it was
Marion! I knew it. And you’ll never guess how, Jack!”
she added, throwing herself into a seat and laughing uproariously.
“It isn’t a question of How, but Why,” I remarked.
“Perhaps if you will kindly treat this matter with becoming
seriousness I may understand….”
“Oh, my dear, my dear, it is really too funny, she
“Seven guineas for a new cloth! I don’t quite see the
point of the joke, ” cut in. I was annoyed and walked
over to the cue-stand… Great Heavens! Every cue in
the rack was warped like a dog’s tail and bleached as white
as sun-dried driftwood. I turned to Minerva.
“What in thunder is going on in this house?” I demanded.
“It’s Marion,” she shrieked hysterically, stuffing her
handkerchief in her mouth, and kicking the rest of her
explanation on the rug in the Morse Code.” Marion!
Marion was doing out the billiard-room yesterday. She
thought the cloth of the table needed brushing, and began
to brush it after she had finished with the rest of the room.
And the dust she raised offended her sense of cleanliness; so
to prevent it flying all over the place she scattered wet tealeaves
on the cloth, because, she says, ‘weet tea-leaves is a
fine thing for layin’ an’ lift in’ the dust, mum'”
“The double-baulked idiot!”
“Oh, Marion does not think so, I assure you. Wet tealeaves
were always used at the places she has been in for
‘keepin’ the dust frae fleein’!”
“And what in heaven’s name has she been doing with
“Kept them soaking all night in the wash-house in a
strong solution of soda and water!to ‘tak’ the dirt oot.
As Mr. Lloyd George’s Bill has cost me a new cloth and
a dozen new cues before it has been put into operation, I
anticipate with horror the date when it actually comes into