Copyright
Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

. (page 38 of 52)
Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 38 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


yet — '- — " She shrugged her shoulders.
" And yet ?*\ he repeated.

** And yet you're so idle," she answered, simply.
*' Idle ! " He looked at her reproachfully. " Why, I'm busy
every hour of the day. Didn't I spend whole strenuous afternoons
over your golf education at the Braids' ? Fm afraid you're not a
very grateful young person."
She shook her head.

** I'm very grateful," she answered, ** and that's why I'd like to
see you doing work one could respect you for. Couldn't you earn
your own living? "

He grinned, but not very mirthfully.

'* As a matter of fact I suppose I do earn it, such as it is,
by acting as my own agent. Not that the land really brings me in
anything — it's mortgaged up to the hilt."

" And yet you spend your life as you do ? " she reproached him.
They were off by now, and Halbeigh realised with joy that they
could not be interrupted for another hour. He leaned forward with
a. confidential air.

" It's delightful to be lectured by you," he said, cheerily.
* * Please go on ! "

Perhaps it could hardly be described as a lecture, but certainly
the lady's conversation claimed his very closest attention till they
both arrived at Leame station.

Five days later Lord Halbeigh could be seen escorting Miss
Lyncargo from the golf links by way of the Frobishers' garden. The
afternoon was uncommonly hot, and they had played thirty-six
holes. His lordship proposed a halt and a rest under one of the
famous Leame cedar trees.

" I've let you over-tire yourself," he said.

There was a distinct heightening of colour in the girl's cheeks at
the obvious tenderness in his tones.' She sat down silently.

On the distant terrace a footman appeared, scanned^ the
prospect keenly, departed, and reappeared almost instantly with a



Digitized by



Google



500 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

salver. He approached the pair and handed Miss Lyncargo a
telegram.

" It came an hour ago, miss," he informed her, "but we didn't
know where to find you."

She tore the envelope, read, and then, almost involuntarily,
uttered an inarticulate exclamation of annoyance.

" I've got to go home at once," she announced.

** No ! " he remonstrated. " Why, you came for the week,
as I did."

" My father's orders," she said, curtly; *' I must go and find
my maid and see about packing."

" But— but, hang it all ! " cried Halbeigh, " if you're going right
off like this, when — when am / going to see you again ? "

The prospect seemed to have suddenly sapped his mental
vigour. He stood before her the picture of consternation.

" I — I don't know. Lord Halbeigh," she said, with something
which sounded suspiciously like the echo of a sob.

The young man seemed to find this sign of weakness strangely
encouraging, or so his action proved. For he gave a hasty glance
behind him and then fairly took Miss Lyncargo in his arms.

'* I know Fm a pauper and a rotter, my darling ! " he said, with
conviction, " but 'pon my soul I love you to distraction. I can't let
you go ! "

The girl gave him one glance which began in protest but ended
in surrender, and then allowed her head to rest very comfortably
against the lapels of his coat.

In the shadow of the verandah the footman — whose body, but
not whose eyes, had been obscured by the creepers — hastened to
descend with stirring news to the pantry.

* * * * ♦

Five minutes latter the new-made fiancee was vouchsafing her
admirer some unpalatable tidings.

** Someone has been talking — or writing," she told him.
" Yesterday I got a letter asking if you were staying in this house.
I answered *yes.' This wire is the result. He hates a lord like
poison, dear. He'll be simply furious ! "

** I'm the least of all the lords, and not worthy to be called a
lord," cried Halbeigh, "considering that I haven't two thousand a
year to bless myself with. Won't that melt his heart ? I'll drop
the title as soon as look, and save a lot by it."

She shook her head dismally.

** Nothing will melt his heart except to prove to him that you're
a working man, and a successful one," she answered. "Well—
we'll have to wait two years. Til be of age then."



Digitized by



Google



MR. LYNCARGO'S PROFESSIONAL 501

" Two years I " vociferated her lover, in horror-stricken accents.
" Two years ! You talk as if they ended the day after to-morrow ! "
She looked at him demurely.

" Of course, if you can't wait " she began, but Halbeigh

hastened to close her lips by drastic methods.

This interlude having been satisfactorily terminated, the point
of Mr. Lyncargo's consent again came up for discussion. Somewhat
gloomily Halbeigh confessed that the prospects of success in obtain-
ing it were not alluring.

** I don't think any reasonable business man would appraise my
talents at more than a pound a week — as a navvy," he confessed.
** I could be a gamekeeper or the secretary of a golf club. Which
would you prefer ? "

She shook her head.

** Father doesn't approve of preserving, and he wouldn't con-
sider a secretaryship work.*'

" My handicap is plus four," he argued. '* I should be as good
as a professional."

*' You could hardly combine the posts," she smiled.
For a moment he stared at her — silently. Then the light of a
most illuminating reflection began to shine in his eyes. His face
grew suffused with excitement. He drew his lady love towards him
and began to speak with intense rapidity and animation.

At first her features expressed amazement, then protest, next
abundant mirth, and finally assent. She looked at her beaming
cavalier with undisguised admiration.

" It's — it's really rather romantic," she allowed.
" Romantic ! It'll be simply heavenly ! " declared the ena-
moured youth, and again gave dramatic proof of the intensity of his
feelings — to the great satisfaction of the butler, who had been moved
to occupy a dominant if inconspicuous point of vantage in the
verandah as the result of the ungrudging report of his lieutenant.

♦ 4( » ♦ «

" I'd do pretty well everything to serve your lordship," admitted
Jack Alastair, '* but this is just awful ! "

He was sitting in his little shop, surrounded by the tools of his
craft, and eyeing Lord Halbeigh with an expression of undiluted awe.

The latter would scarcely have been recognised by his friends.
He wore a suit of neat but distinctly passe tweeds, a cap which had
seen better days, and a more than dingy pair of boots. His enthu-
siasm for disguise had carried him over far. Alastair was distinctly
the better dressed man of the two.

" You're not to call me * your lordship,' " said Halbeigh, severely.
*• I'm Reginald Smith, your old playmate, and a fine golfer."



Digitized by



Google



502 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

"Well, but, sir " compromised the other.

" There are no * buts ' and no ' sirs,' " was the retort. " I'm sur-
prised at you, Alastair. Here is your old mother getting very frail
and shaky, and all alone, yearning to have her boy within reach in
her declining years. The Club at Fulkington, not ten miles from
your old home, needs a professional. The obvious thing is for you
to apply for the post — at once. Til see that you get it, and I make
you an offer of a pound a week above and beyond your salary. With
your talents you're burying yourself on a private course."

" It's the master I'm thinking of," pleaded the other. ** I've
no right to disappoint him."

'* Disappoint him ! " cried his tempter, " when right here to
your hand is a colleague whom you can recommend with confidence
to take over your post — the friend of your childhood, trustworthy,
and playing at plus four ! What more could he want ? "

" Nothing, your lor' — I mean, sir — I should say. Smithy* an-
swered Alastair, desperately. ** But the week after next he's enter-
taining Mr. Plunderbilt Flash, the American. The jealousy between
them two about their golf courses is something to frighten ye, and
Mr. Flash is bringing his own professional, Willie Beck, with him.
If I leave him in the lurch at a week's notice with iheyn coming,
he'll be like to assassinate me ! "

** In the lurch— in the lurch ! " retorted Halbeigh. " You'll be
leaving him in as safe hands as your own. Didn't I get to the sixth
round in the Amateur Championship the year before last ? I'll give
Willie Beck a third and a beating, or never touch a golf club again.
Now get off and find your employer, and tell him how you are
situated. Pull up a tear or two in your eyes, and remember your old
mother's dying."

** When I had a letter from her, this very morning, saying
she'd walked eight miles and killed a pig ! " said Alastair, simply.
" It makes me feel like a murderer to tell such havers."

He made a motion to touch his cap — met Halbeigh's frowning
eye — and followed his guest into the road.

** Wire me at once ! " said the latter, impressively, and faded
away in the direction of the town.

With pursed-up lips, and a particularly scared expression, Ala-
stair trudged towards the house.

♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

Mr. Lyncargo, somewhat tightly filling a knicker-bocker golfing
suit, sat behind his study table and inspected Halbeigh minutely.
The latter and Alastair had just been ushered in.

** So this is your friend ? " said the millionaire, and the profes-
sional nervously made the somewhat obvious reply that it was.



Digitized by



Google



MR. LYNCARGO'S PROFESSIONAL 503

Mr. Lyncargo rose, walked primly round the table, and shook
Halbeigh by the hand. As he resunned his seat the aspirant cast an
inquiring gaze at his companion.

** Whisht ! " whispered Alastair, hasily. " He does that to all —
it's part of his system ! "

Somewhat reassured, Halbeigh endeavoured to assume a Social-
Democratic expression, and awaited developments.

*' You have had considerable experience of golf? " demanded
Mr. Lyncargo. "You have the right to consider yourself first-
class ? "

'* I hope SD," said Halbeigh, modestly.

** Humph!" snorted the millionaire. "Of that I will judge
presently. You have credentials from your last place ? "
Halbeigh produced a couple of envelopes.

** These are from the secretaries of my last two clubs," he said,
passing them over the table. They were taken, scanned deliberately,
SLnd laid down.

•*They seem satisfactory," said the reader. "Are you sober
or married?'*

The unexpectedness of the question became somewhat entangling
to Halbeigh 's intelligence.

" Neither, sir,*' he said, wildly. " At least — I mean I don't
drink.*'

" And are single ? "

" Yes — for the present. I'm — I'm walking out,'* said Halbeigh.
Mr. Lyncargo made no comment save a nod. He rose and
rnotioned the pair towards the door.

" Bring your clubs," he said, curtly, and led out through the
gardens to the first tee. He pointed to the first green about
350 yards away. " Drive ! " he said, monosyllabically.

Halbeigh took his club with a greater sense of nervousness
than any Championship had called forth. With an effort he pulled
himself together and swung. The ball rose straight and true,
seemed to pick up the little extra impulse which a well-hit ball
assumes half way in its career, and fell, to slip onwards another
thirty yards before it stopped. Alastair gave a sigh of great content.
"Just the neat furlong ! " he breathed. " Ye've not forgotten
y'r lessons, me — Reggie.''

Mr. Lyncargo gave a little nod which expressed approval. He
led up to the ball.

" Approach ! " he remarked, tersely, as before.
Halbeigh took his iron. It could hardly be described as any-
thing but a lucky fluke, but the fact remains that the ball, dropping
just over the edge of the green, ran unerringly upon the pin and lay



Digitized by



Google



504 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

dead. With a matter-of-fact air Halbeigh walked up to it and ran
it down. Alastair bubbled with excitement.

" A three ! " he gasj)ed. " Losh me — a three ! And there's
many a one that's played here has said we should make it a bogey
six. A three ! Think of that now ! "

Mr. Lyncargo permitted himself to smile.

*' A very good performance," he allowed. " I have pleasure in
engaging you, Mr. Smith, to replace Mr. Alastair. Your wages you
know. I shall hope to have a round with you this afternoon, when
I think you may allow me — say twelve bisques ! "

4( ♦ « « »

** I think the new professional is — in some ways — a better
teacher than the last," said Miss Lyncargo, with a judicial air. "I
had a lesson from him yesterday."

" I'm glad to think you're taking up a rational amusement at
last," said her father, looking at her across the breakfast table. "I
am quite satisfied with Smith — the greens are wonderful — and I think
he has discovered what is my proper stance. Alastair never did.*'

" What is it ?" asked his daughter, curiously.

" Six inches further away from the ball, and two and a half
further behind it," said Mr. Lyncargo, with the serious air of one
discussing matters of world-wide import.

** When I've had a few more lessons we'll have a game," she
suggested, " and you can give me a stroke a hole ? "

" Possibly," agreed the old gentleman. ** At present I am
training for my match next week against Plunderbilt Flash."

*' What does he give you ? " asked the girl.

He snorted with indignation.

** Give me ! " he replied. ** My dear Hilda, that remark shoi^-s
how little real interest you take in your father's pursuits. I have
played Flash dozens of times, and always at evens. So far I have
not beaten him because the fellow has such stupendous luck, but I
have twice squared the match. Owing to Smith's alteration of my
stance I drive at least another forty yards. Next week I shall win."

** I hope so," she said. " Which day do you play ? "

"This day week — the singles in the morning; the doubles-
Smith and Beck being our partners — in the afternoon. Unfortu-
nately I am unable to practise to-day, so you can make use of
Smith's services if you desire."

" I think I will," said Hilda, sedately. " I never thought I
should get the golf fever, but I rather fancy I have."

Half an hour later the lovers had met upon the course, Halbeigh
touching his hat with great deference as he received his mistress's
clubs. He made a scrupulous tee, showed anxiety about the position



Digitized by



Google



MR. LYNCARGO'S PROFESSIONAL 505

of her feet, exhorted her to seclude her left thumb further within the
grip of her right hand, and permitted her to drive. The ball went a
fair hundred and forty yards.

" Very good, miss,*' said Smith, respectfully, and led on.
A couple of gardeners were within earshot, and it was not till
they had reached the first green that the pair permitted them-
selves the luxury of untrammelled conversation.

" Do you know that father is under the impression that he can
give me a stroke ? " smiled Hilda, after the usual protestations of
undying affection had been exchanged. '* What do you think ? "

" I wish he*d back himself for a hundred thousand," said
Halbeigh. " I'd be a taker — every time. Not but what he's im-
proved," he allowed. " I think Alastair was too frightened of him
to do himself justice."

** You know about this match next week ? "

" I don't think it's ever out of his mind," he said, simply. '* It
certainly is seldom off his lips. He takes his pleasure uncommon
seriously."

" It's his view of life," answered Hilda. ** When this story of
ours comes out — as it must do in time — I'm afraid he won't see the
humour of it at all."

*' If he sees the logic of it, that's all I care for," said Halbeigh.
** He declares that for him there is neither caste nor creed. So he
can't refuse his daughter to a man who is honestly making his living
by the work of his hands as a golf professional — can he ? "

And yet by the fateful morning when the great Flash -Lyncargo
Match was to come off Halbeigh had begun to acknowledge to him-
self that his life was by no means an absolutely alluring one. The
work he did not mind. The hours he spent with his lady-love made
him forget everything. But the evenings in his lodgings — and these
had to be humble ones to avoid exciting suspicion — the food, the
want of society, the little petty annoyances to which he was subject,
had begun to grate upon him. He was dogged to show his employer
that he was a man who could work, and work well, but he had begun
to wonder if the time of his probation could not be shortened.

He eyed Mr. Flash, as that worthy appeared clad for the contest
in wonderful checks, with an instinctive dislike. The latter was in
boisterous spirits.

" Well, Miss Hilda," he cried, as the girl appeared. " Here's
your Pop up against me for the six and twentieth time, and as usual
he'll go down the shute ! To-day I'm just the Giant Golfer from
Golfville. No holding me — if I get a new ball for every hole I win
it'll amount to more than a box ! "

The girl smiled.

MO. cxxx. VOL. xxa.-^M^y 1906 M M



Digitized by



Google



5o6 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

" We'll see ! " she remarked, and watched him narrowly as he
tcx)k the honour. He stood carelessly, smothering the ball. She
gave Halbeigh a quick look of inquiry, and from behind the American's
back he nodded with great satisfaction. With a quick stabbing shot
Mr. Flash half-topped.

He was not abashed.

'* The way I always begin," he explained, and stood aside to let
his adversary address the ball.

Mr. Lyncargo swung short but steadily, and sent his ball straight
as a die if not very far. But he was practically a stroke ahead of
Mr. Flash, who took five to reach the green and two to run down.
He lost the hole by two strokes.

The next hole was but a replica of the first. Flash, viewing his
opponent's drive of a hundred and thirty yards with unconcealed
scorn, pressed, topped again, and got into the rough. He smote the
ball unavailingly for four more strokes, and then surrendered the hole.
Two up to the leader.

At the third — a short one — Flash fluked a good drive. The ball,
really half-topped, just cleared the bunker, and sailed low, to finish
with a good run against the wind. Mr. Lyncargo got under his
a mite too much, lifted it into the wind, and had the mortifica-
tion of seeing it carried away into sand. He arrived on the
green two strokes behind, and had the additional mortification of
seeing his adversary fluke a putt, the ball, really far too strong,
encountering a new-made worm-cast which actually swerved it into
the hole. Flash was down in three, and in correspondingly high
feather.

" The Golf Terror from Golfville— that's what I am !" he re-
peated, and smote with hideous force at his next drive. Willie Beck,
his professional, who was caddying for him, groaned aloud.

The ball actually landed behind his back! In his careless
excitement he had driven it against the sand box, and it had
rebounded !

From that moment dated his downfall. He got hot— he
muttered — unmindful of a lady's presence, he b^an to swear— he
pressed violently — he sliced — he topped. An hour later, at the
thirteenth, Mr. Lyncargo stood in the happy position of dormy six.

And then a most unfortunate thing happened. The leader took
his stance unconsciously upon one of the tin markers, swung, slipped,
and fell, his leg doubled under him. He scrambled to his feet, bat
his face was twisted with pain.

They were within a short distance of one of the avenues.
Hilda suggested that the carriage should be summoned to take her
father home. He refused with scorn.



Digitized by



Google



Mr. lyncaRgo*s professional 507

"As if I should give up my match at a moment like this !" he
cried, and insisted on continuing. He limped valiantly after his
ball, supporting himself on Halbeigh's arm. " I wouldn't give up if
my leg was broken /" he muttered, under his breath.

As an evidence of pluck, such valiant exhibitions may have their
uses. As far as golf is concerned they are totally out of place. A
man cannot swing if he has to keep his feet immovable — he cannot
keep his eye upon the ball when every motion causes him stabs
of pain. The result of Mr. Lyncargo's persistence might have
been predicted. The American squared the match on the last
green!

He didn't conceal his triumph.

"A-ho, a-ho! A narrow squeak for P. F. thai time," he cried,
" but the Eagle isn't always dead when you see him stretched and
panting ! I pulled it out of the fire, my boy — I pulled it out of the
fire!"

Lyncargo simply looked at him. Words failed. This loud-
voiced boaster actusdly had the effrontery to imply that he had
evaded defeat on equal terms !

Relief came from an unexpected quarter. Hilda Lyncargo
stepped forward with a flushed face and shining eyes.

" I'm sorry you should not get a match this afternoon owing to
my father's unfortunate accident," she said, sweetly. "You must let
me take his place."

Flash stared at her as if she was a beetle.

" You !" he said, with amazement, and then laughed genially.
" In the foursome, you mean ? But — what shall we give you ? "

*' You needn't trouble about odds," she answered, quietly. **We
shall do our best to give you a match at evens — Smith and myself."

Halbeigh, as he watched his employer, saw a look of pride pass
into his face, though the old gentleman shook his head doubtfully.
Flash laughed again — louder.

" Well — well ! " he answered, " there's no getting away from a
direct challenge like that ; but — but you'll excuse me if I say I hardly
think it will be a game. Miss Hilda — hardly a game."

Which words were in the nature of a prophecy, as the events of
the afternoon proved.

Compared with his afternoon's play his morning's performance
was Championship form. He couldn't drive — he couldn't approach
— he couldn't putt. Whether anxiety or lunch was responsible for a
complete breakdown it is impossible to say, but as the winning ball
roDed into the twelfth hole the American realised that for the
second time that day his adversary was dormy six.

It was Hildas drive. Mr. Lyncargo, who had insisted on

M M a



Digitized by



Google



5o8 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

following throughout in a bath chair, watched her advance to the
tee with eyes of almost devout admiration.

Before she took her stance she happened to catch Halbeigh's
adoring glance, and this, in addition to its usual fervour, was quick-
ened by a master's pride in a pupil. Had she not done his lessons
justice and more than justice? He forgot his usual caution. He
beamed upon her with all a lover's tenderness.

With the same inadvertence she returned this silent message,
and then — was suddenly aware by her father's astonished features
that he had intercepted and had understood the glance.

She blushed — she swung hastily — she topped ! Surprise and
sorrow completed Halbeigh's downfall.

** Oh, my dear ! " he expostulated, in all-unconscious reproach.
For a moment there was an oppressive silence, broken at last
by a tiny snigger from the American as he advanced to the tee. He
*swung, and — wonder of wonders ! — brought off a stupendous drive.
The ball lay within twenty yards of the green, from whence Beck
could be trusted to toss it up dead to the hole. Hilda's ball had
travelled scarcely twenty feet.

Mr. Flash's whoop of triumph was overpowering.
"Gee-whiz! " he cried. "Again at the crucial moment P. F.
chases his enemies into the long grass ! I'll take you six to one
we don't pull it off as I did this morning. Miss Hilda — if you'll agree
to play an extra hole, I take you ten to one we don't win 1 "
Halbeigh gritted his teeth as he took his brassey.
" And I'll bet you evens we halve this hole 1 " he retorted,
recklessly.

Flash looked him over.

" I don't bet with — professionals ! " he remarked, loftily, and,
as Halbeigh made the stroke, changed colour considerably. It is
doubtful if a better-played ball had ever been hit upon that course
before. Straight, low, and true it sped away, rising to describe a
graceful parabola, and come at last to rest two hundred yards away
upon the green at the very lip of the hole !

In silence Willie Beck led the party as he strode up to play
second, and in silence he dropped his ball within a yard of the pin.
And in a stillness which could be felt Mr. Flash putted— and
missed !

His imprecations were sonorous, but they could not drown
his host's very distinct remark. Mr. Lyncargo neither indulged in
triumph nor offered congratulations.

" That is the match ! " he said, as his daughter tapped the ball
into the hole. " I prefer that there should be no bye !"
Hilda looked at him inquiringly.



Digitized by



Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 38 of 52)