Macho Musings: A Sleepy delve into Ian Hay's A Man's Man Chapters 1 and 2 read by Jason

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Lancaster is a highly skilled soldier who earns the respect of his men through his bravery and leadership. He is also a man of few words, preferring action to conversation, and he is quick to anger when he perceives a threat to his honor or that of his fellow soldiers. These qualities make him a natural leader in the field, but they also create tension between Lancaster and the more refined officers who outrank him.

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A University college varies its facial expression about as frequently as The Sphinx and about as violently as a treacle-well.
This remark specially applies between the hours of breakfast and luncheon. The courts, with their monastic cloisters and inviolable grassplots, lie basking in a sunny obliviousness to the world outside. Their stately exclusiveness is accentuated rather than diminished by the glimpse of an occasional flying figure in a cap and gown, or the spectacle of a middle-aged female of a discreet and chastened appearance, who glides respectfully from one archway to another, carrying a broom and a tin pail, or--alas for the goings-on that a cloistered cell may conceal behind its art-muslin curtains!-a tankard containing some gentleman's morning ale.
In one corner, close to the Buttery door, you may behold one of the college cats, which appears to be combining a searching morning toilet with a course of practical calisthenics; and inside the massive arch of the gateway stands a majestic figure in a tall hat, whom appreciative Americans usually mistake for the Master, but who in reality occupies the far more onerous and responsible post of Head Porter.
Perhaps the greatest variation from the normal is to be observed on a Saturday morning. Then the scene is brightened by the vision of an occasional washerwoman, who totters bravely at one end of a heavy basket, what time her lord and master (who has temporarily abandoned his favourite street-corner and donned Sabbath attire for this, his weekly contribution to the work of the world) sulkily supports the other.
Undergraduates, too, are more in evidence than on other days. On most mornings they either stay indoors, to work or sleep, or else go outside the college altogether. "Loitering" in the courts is not encouraged by the authorities. Not that the undergraduate minds that; but it will probably cost him half-a-crown every time he does so, not because he loiters but because he smokes.
The Old Court of St. Benedict's College--it is hardly necessary to say that we are in Cambridge and not in Oxford: otherwise we should have said "Quad"-presents to us on the present occasion a very fair sample of a Saturday morning crowd. The observant eye of the Dean, looking down (like Jezebel) from an upper chamber, can discern--
1. Three washerwomen, with the appurtenances thereof.
2. One small boy delivering The Granta.
3. A solitary spectacled gentleman, of the type described by the University Calendar in stately periphrasis as "A Native of Asia, not of European Parentage" (but more tersely classified by the rest of the community as "a nigger"), hurrying in cap and gown to secure a good place at the feet of some out-of-college Gamaliel.
4. A kitchen-man in white jacket and apron, bearing upon his head a tray containing a salmon mayonnaise, cutlets in aspic, and a special Cambridge dainty known as "Grassy Corner Pudding"-a fearsome compound of whipped cream and pistachio nuts.
5. A Buttery boy, walking close behind, with a basket containing bottles. Evidently some young gentleman is about to entertain angels--unawares so far as his bill-paying papa is concerned.
6. Four young men converging to a group in the centre of the court. Of these, two are attired in the undergraduate mode of the moment--tweed jackets with leather buttons, waistcoats of the Urim and Thummim variety, grey flannel trousers well turned up, clamorous silk socks, and heavy Highland shooting brogues. The third wears what the College Regulations describe rather ingenuously as "Athletic Dress." Pheidippides himself would have found it difficult to perform feats of prowess in a costume composed of split pumps, white duck trousers, and a blazer admirably qualified to serve as a model of the Solar Spectrum.

It may be mentioned in passing that, to the College Regulations, "Athletic Dress" is not in itself a costume in which it is possible to perform athletic feats, but one whose colour-scheme clashes with the sub-fusc standard which obtains in all college courts until one P.M.; such, in fact, as would tend to distract the eye and sap the diligence of those who traverse the courts on their way to lectures. In consequence, he who would be matutinally athletic must either keep his warpaint somewhere out of college, or drape himself like a stage conspirator as he flits from his rooms to the river or Fenner's.
The fourth gentleman of the party was dressed, if not gorgeously, sufficiently respectably to warrant the assumption that he was not a member of the University.
All four were smoking.
The Dean, glancing in the direction of the gateway, and observing with sardonic satisfaction that the watchful Cerberus there was taking a note of the delinquency, returned to his work. Regardless of the prospective loss of half-a-crown apiece, the undergraduates exchanged cheerful greetings.
"Hallo, Dishy-Washy!"
"Hallo, Gussie!"
"Hallo, Towzer!"
There ensued an awkward pause, while Messrs. Gussie and Towzer, nervously conscious of the presence of a stranger to whom they were about to be presented, looked intently at their boots and waited for the introduction to take place.
The gentleman previously addressed as Dishy-Washy, a diminutive youth with wizened features,-his name was Dishart-Watson,-cleared his throat.
"Introduce my brother," he said huskily. "Mr. Poltimore--Mr. Angus!"
The gentlemen indicated shook hands with the visitor, and Mr. Angus, after a mental effort, inquired:-
"Come to see us go Head?"
He giggled deprecatingly, to show that he did not really mean this.
"Hope so," said Dishy-Washy's brother politely. "I hear you've got a pretty hot crew," he added.
"First chop," said Mr. Poltimore. "You just arrived?"
"Yes; down from town this morning."
"Oh! live there?"
"Oxford man," interpolated Dishy-Washy swiftly. "Sent down," he added in extenuation.
The other two nodded sympathetically, and the conversation proceeded more briskly.
"Are you going to catch those chaps to-night, Dishy?" inquired Mr. Angus earnestly.
"Don't know," replied Dishy-Washy, who as coxswain of the St. Benedict's boat enjoyed a position of authority and esteem in inverse ratio to his inches. "Duncombe's a good enough little oar, but you can't expect a man who weighs nine stone ten to stroke the boat and pull it along too. Of course, if we had anything we could call a Six! As for old Puffin-"
"Fourteen stone of tripe!" interpolated Mr. Angus, the gentleman in Athletic Dress. "Lord help the boat!" he added bitterly.
It may be mentioned in passing that Mr. Angus's athletic achievements were rather overstated by his costume. His blazer was that of a college club of twelve members, admission to which was strictly limited to gentlemen who could absorb a gallon of beer at a draught, and whose first rule stated that any member who committed the bêtise of taking a degree, however humble, should pay to the club a fine of five pounds.
"Still," said Towzer hopefully, "there's always Marrable."
Everybody--even the gentleman who had been sent down from Oxford--cheered up at this reflection.
"By gum!" said the coxswain with sudden enthusiasm, "he's a wonder! You should have seen him in the boat yesterday. He was rowing a blade that simply lifted the whole of bow side along by itself; and besides that he was coaching Stroke all the time--telling him when to swing out and when to quicken, and bucking him up generally; and on the top of all that he found time every now and then to turn round and curse old Six. I tell you, he's a wonder. Did you hear about him last night?"
"I did hear some yarn," said Angus. "Went and smashed up The Owls, didn't he?"
"Smashed up?" Dishy's saturnine features expanded into a smile that was almost benevolent. "My lad, have you seen Muggeridge's alabaster brow this morning?"
Mr. Muggeridge was the president of "The Owls" Wine Club.
"Well, last night I was going round about half-past ten to see that all the crew were in their beds. When I came to H, New Court, I found a devil of a row going on in Muggeridge's rooms--directly under Duncombe's, you know."
"Yes. Go on," said all, much interested.
"There was a meeting of The Owls on," continued Dishy, "and they'd had the nerve to hold it on a staircase where there were actually two men of the crew--Duncombe and Eversley--trying to get to sleep."
"What did you do?" inquired Poltimore.
"Went in and reminded them. I thought they might have forgotten."
"What did they say?"
"They told me to go to-"
"Good Lord!" said the audience, genuinely horrified at the employment of such language by a non-athletic to an athletic man.

The Owls were a collection of rather dissipated young nobodies, while Dishy wore a Leander tie, which in a rowing college entitles a man to something like reverence.
"I soon found it was a put-up job," continued the coxswain. "They had some grudge against Duncombe, and wanted to score him off. I could hear him hammering on his bedroom floor above to make them dry up."
"What did you do then?"
"I explained to them exactly what I thought of them," replied the coxswain simply.
"What did you say, exactly?"
Dishy told them. They smacked their lips appreciatively, and the next question followed pat.
"And what did they do?"
"Well, they were a bit far gone-"
"Drunken sweeps!" remarked the virtuous Gussie, who belonged to a rival institution.
"Yes. They were a bit far gone," repeated the coxswain, with the air of one endeavouring to explain an otherwise unaccountable circumstance, "and they--well, they hove me out, in fact. There were nine of them," he added, in the manner of one who is not quite sure if his excuse will be accepted.
"And then?"
"Then I went straight off to old Hughie's rooms"-there was a respectful intaking of breath by the company: most of the College were wont to refer to the gentleman in question as Marrable-"and knocked him up. He had just gone to bed."
"What did he do?" came the question, in lively anticipation of the recital to come.
"Put on a few things over his pyjamas, and came along with me."
The audience sighed ecstatically.
"What happened?" said Poltimore.
"Well, things were getting a bit lively by the time we arrived. Just as we got to the foot of the stair we were greeted by Muggeridge's oak, which some playful fellow had taken off its hinges and thrown over the banisters. However, we dodged that and raced up to the first floor.
"You could have heard a pin drop when we walked into the room. One or two of them looked a bit green, though, when they saw what a towering passion Hughie was in. Still, Muggeridge was sober enough, and tried to talk it off. He stood up, and said, 'Hallo, Marrable! This is splendid! You are just in time to drink to the success of the crew to-morrow. We're all sportsmen here. Come on, you chaps--no heeltaps!'
"He stood waving his glass, but anybody could see that he was in a putrid funk.
"Hughie shut the door behind him and leaned against it, and said:-
"'Muggeridge, I don't know you very intimately, but I know this, that you always were a worm and a bounder. You can't altogether help that, and personally I don't particularly mind, although you give the College away a bit. Still, I think the College can bear that. You are quite at liberty to get full and amuse yourself in any way you please, so long as you and your pals don't interfere with other people. But when it comes to disturbing my crew, who have to fight the battles of the College on behalf of warriors like you and these gentlemen here, whose favourite field-sport is probably billiards--well, that's just what I call a bit too thick!'
"All this time Muggeridge was looking pretty averagely uncomfortable. The other chaps were gazing at him, evidently waiting for a lead. But you could see he was pretty well up a stump as to what to do next. However, next time old Hughie paused for breath, he said:-
"'Oh, get out!'
"It was a rotten thing to say. Hughie smiled at him.
"'All right,' he said, 'but I must put you to bed before I go.'
"Before anybody could do anything he was across the room and had a grip of Muggeridge by the back of the neck and one wrist, which he twisted round behind somehow. Then he turned him round, and kicked him all the way across the room into his bedroom. He used Muggeridge's head as a sort of battering-ram to open the door with. Oh, it was the most gorgeous spectacle!"
There was a little sigh of rapture all round the group.
Muggeridge was a prominent member of that class of society which undergraduates and other healthy and outspoken Philistines designate simply and comprehensively as "Tishbites" or "Tishes."
"He shut him in and locked the door," continued the coxswain, "and then he turned on the other eight. They were a pretty average lot of worms--you know them?"
There was a murmur of assent, and Mr. Poltimore, with rather belated presence of mind, hurriedly explained to the Oxford gentleman that the band of heroes under discussion were not in any sense representative of the rank and file of the College.
"-And they just sat round the table looking perfectly paralytic. (As a matter of fact most of them were.) Hughie laid hold of the biggest of them--Skeffington--and said:-
"'This meeting is adjourned, gentlemen. Just to show you that I'm speaking the truth, I'll heave the senior member present downstairs!'"
"Did he?" asked everybody.

"No. He'd have killed him if he had. He picked Skeff up by the collar and the seat of his bags and said to me, 'Watch 'em, Dishy!' Then he carried Skeff downstairs, and slugged him into the middle of the grass plot outside."
"Good egg!" murmured Mr. Angus.
"Didn't the others try to bolt?" inquired Towzer.
"The idea was mooted," replied the coxswain loftily, "but I told them to sit still or they'd get their silly heads knocked together."
"Did he cart them all downstairs?"
"No; it would have been too tame a job with such a set of mangy squirts. He simply came back and said:-
"'Now, you miserable little snipes, I give you fifteen seconds to quit these premises. The last man out will be personally assisted downstairs by me. I'm sorry I've only got slippers on.' Still, he landed the Honourable Hopton-Hattersley a very healthy root for all that," concluded Dishy, with a seraphic smile. "After that the porter arrived with the Dean's compliments, and it was past the hour for music, gentlemen; but Hughie slapped him on the back and told him that he had arrived too late for the fair. Then he went home to bed as cool as a cucumber. Oh, he's--Hallo, there he is! I must catch him. So long, you men! See you at lunch, Reggie."
And Mr. Dishart-Watson, swelling with importance, hurried off to overtake a figure which had swung out of a distant staircase in the southwest corner of the court and was striding towards the gateway.
There was no undergraduate slouchiness discernible either in the dress or in the appearance of the Captain of the St. Benedict's boat. He was a strong-limbed, clean-run young man of about twenty-one; perhaps a trifle too muscular to be a quick mover, but, with his broad back and sinewy loins, an ideally built rowing-man. He was a youth of rather grave countenance, with shrewd blue eyes which had a habit of disappearing into his head when he laughed, and a mouth in which, during these same periods of exhilaration, his friends confidently asserted that you could post a letter. He was a born leader of men, and, as the discerning reader will have gathered from Mr. Dishart-Watson's narrative, was still strongly imbued with what may be called public-school principles of justice. He entirely refused to suffer fools gladly or even resignedly, but had a kindly nod for timorous freshmen, a friendly salute for those Dons who regarded undergraduates as an integral part of the scheme of college life and not merely as a necessary evil, and a courtly good-day for fluttered and appreciative bedmakers. He never forgot the faces or names of any of those over him or under him--Dons and college servants, that is; and further, in his own walk of life (a society in which you may recognise the existence of no man, even though he daily passes you the salt or gathers you under his arm in the familiarity of a Rugby scrummage, until you have been formally introduced to him), he never pretended to do so.
While Mr. Dishy-Washy's short legs are endeavouring to bring him alongside the striding Olympian in front, it will perhaps be well to explain why it was so absolutely essential to the welfare of St. Benedict's College that eight young men should enjoy a night's rest untrammelled by revels on the floors below.
For the benefit of those who have never made a study of that refinement of torture known as a "bumping" race, it may be mentioned that at Oxford and Cambridge the various College crews, owing to the narrowness of their rivers, race not abreast but in a long string, each boat being separated from its pursuer and pursued by an equal space. Every crew which succeeds in rowing over the course without being caught (or "bumped") by the boat behind it is said to have "kept its place," and starts in the same position for the next day's racing. But if it contrives to touch the boat in front, it is said to have made a "bump," and both bumper and bumped get under the bank with all speed and allow the rest of the procession to race past. Next day bumper and bumped change places, and the victors of the day before endeavour to repeat their performance at the expense of the next boat in front of them. The crew at "the head of the river" have, of course, nothing to catch, and can accordingly devote their attention to keeping away from Number Two, which is usually in close attendance owing to the pressing attention of Number Three. And so on.

The racing takes place during four successive evenings in the May Week, so called for the somewhat inadequate reason that it occurs in June. It was now Saturday, the last day of the races, and the men of St. Benedict's knew that an enormous effort must be made that evening. So far they had made two bumps, comparatively easily. Starting from fourth place they were now second on the river, and only the All Saints boat stood between them and the haven where they would be. They had tried last night to bring their foe down, but had failed; they were going to try again to-night, but All Saints were a terribly strong crew. They had been Head for five years, and there were four Blues in the boat. Public opinion admitted that St. Benedict's were about the fastest crew on the river that year, but considered that a seasoned lot like All Saints could keep on spurting away long enough to last out the course.
"Unless, of course," people said, "unless Marrable does something extra special."
It was wonderful what a lot the world in general seemed to expect of Marrable. Character counts for something even among the very young; and there is no more youthful member of society than the undergraduate. The sixth-form boy is a Nestor compared with him.
Meanwhile our diminutive friend Dishy, the coxswain, had succeeded in overtaking his captain, just as that great man stepped into a hansom in Trinity Street.
"Where are you off to, Hughie?" he panted.
"Well, I'm coming with you. I'll cut away before you meet her."
Dishy was one of the few who dared to address Marrable in this strain.
The two installed themselves in the hansom, and while the experienced animal between the shafts proceeded down Trinity Street, butting its way through sauntering pedestrians, pushing past country-parsonical governess carts, taking dogs in its stride, and shrinking apprehensively from motor-bicycles ridden by hatless youths in bedroom slippers, they discussed affairs of state.
"There's only one way to do it, Dishy," said Marrable. "I'm going stroke."
Dishy nodded approvingly.
"It's the only thing to do," he said. "But who is going to row seven--Stroke?"
"Bow-side will go to pieces," said Dishy with conviction.
"Perhaps. But as things are at present stroke side will."
"That's true," admitted the coxswain. "Let's see now: there'll be you stroke, Duncombe seven, Puffin six--it's worth trying anyhow. We're bound to keep away from the James' people, so we might as well have a shot."
"Clear out now," said Marrable, "and go round and tell the men to be at the boathouse by four, and we'll have a ten minutes' outing in the new order. Then, when you've done that, cut down to the boathouse and tell Jerry to alter my stretcher and Duncombe's."
These commands involved a full hour's excessive activity in a hot sun on the part of Mr. Dishart-Watson; but Marrable was not the man to spare himself or his subordinates when occasion demanded.
The coxswain descended to the step of the hansom and clung to the splash-board as he received his last instructions.
"And tell Jerry," added Marrable, "to get down a new stroke-side oar, with a good six-inch blade. Duncombe's has been shaved down to a tooth-pick."
Dishy nodded cheerfully and dropped off into the traffic.
"The old man means business. We shall go Head now," he murmured to himself with simple confidence. "All right, sir, my fault entirely. Don't apologise!"
And leaving an inverted motor-cyclist, who had run into him from behind, to congest the traffic and endure laceration from his own still faithfully revolving pedals, the coxswain of the St. Benedict's boat proceeded at a brisk pace back to his College, there to inform a sorely tried troupe of seven that, owing to an eleventh-hour change in the cast, a full-dress rehearsal of their evening's performance had been called for four o'clock sharp.


It has been said by those who ought to know that, if the most painful quarter of an hour in a man's life comes when he is screwing himself up to proposing-point, the corresponding period in a woman's is that immediately preceding her first dinner-party in her own house.
Granting the unpleasantness of both these chastening but necessary experiences, a mere male may be excused for inquiring why the second should be ear-marked as the exclusive prerogative of the opposite sex. There is no more morbidly apprehensive creature under the sun than the undergraduate about to give a state luncheon-party which is to be graced by the presence of his beloved.
Hughie Marrable sat back in his hansom with knitted brow, and checked some hieroglyphics on the back of an envelope.

"Let's see," he murmured to himself, "Dressed crab. Can't go wrong there. Told the cook to be sure to send it up in the silver scallops with the College crest on. After all, it's the trimmings that really appeal to a woman. Not the food, but the way you serve it up. Rum creatures!" he added parenthetically. "Prawns in aspic. That always looks nice, anyway, though not very filling at the price. I remember last year Kitty Devenish said it looked simply-"
Hughie checked his soliloquy rather suddenly, and, if any one else had been present in the hansom, would probably have blushed a little. Miss Kitty Devenish was what cycle-dealers term "a last year's model," and at the present moment Hughie was driving to meet some one else. He continued:-
"Cutlets à la reform. Quite the best thing the kitchens turn out, but not so showy as they might be. Still, with old Huish's Crown Derby plates--it was decent of the old man to lend them; I hope to goodness Mrs. Gunn won't do anything rash with them--they ought to do. Grassy corner pudding. That always creates excitement, though it tastes rotten. Fruit salad; crême brûlé. That's safe enough. Macaroni au gratin. She won't touch it, but it'll please Uncle Jimmy and Jack Ames. Wish I could have some myself! Never mind; only about six hours more!"
Hughie smacked his lips. It is hard to sit among the flesh-pots and not partake thereof. His fare at this feast would be cold beef and dry toast.
He turned over the envelope.
"H'm--drink. Don't suppose she'll have anything, but I can't take that for granted. There's a bottle of Berncastler Doctor and some Beaune. I wonder if it would be best to have them open before I ask her what she'll drink, or ask her what she'll drink before I open them. I'll have 'em open, I think. She might refuse if she saw the corks weren't drawn. Anyhow Mrs. Ames will probably take some. But, great Scott! I must ask Mrs. Ames first, mustn't I? That's settled anyway. She'll probably take whatever Mrs. Ames takes.
"Then there are the table decorations. I wish to goodness I could remember whether it was wall-flower she said. I think it must have been, because I remember making some putrid joke to her once about like attracting unlike. Anyhow, it's too late to change it now. I've plumped for wall-flower, and the room simply stinks of it.
"Then the seats. Me at the head, with Mrs. Ames on one hand and her on the other. Uncle Jimmy at the end, with Ames on his left and Dicky Lunn between Mrs. Ames and Uncle Jimmy. Yes, Ames must sit there. Lord knows, Dicky Lunn should be safe enough, but you never know what sort of man a girl won't take a fancy to. And after all, Ames is married," added the infatuated youth.
"Then Mrs. Gunn. I think I've told her everything." He feverishly ticked off his admonitions on his fingers. "Let me see,-
"One: not to put used plates on the floor.
"Two: not to join in the conversation.
"Three: not to let that wobbly affair in her bonnet dip into the food.
"Four: not to breathe on things or polish them with her apron, except out of sight.
"Five: not to attempt on any account to hand round the drink.
"Six: to go away directly after lunch and not trot in and out of the gyp-room munching remains.
"The tea-hamper should be all right. Trust the kitchens for that! I must remember to stick in a box of chocolates, though. And I don't think I need bother about dinner, as they are going to send in Richards to wait. Anyhow, I shall have the boat off my chest by that time. That will be something, especially if"
Hughie lapsed into silence, and for a moment a vision of love requited gave place in his imagination to the spectacle of the Benedictine crew going Head of the river.
His reflections were interrupted by the arrival of his equipage at that combined masterpiece of imposing architecture and convenient arrangement, Cambridge railway station. The platform was crowded with young men, most of them in "athletic dress," waiting for the London train. The brows of all were seamed with care, partaking in all probability of the domestic and amorous variety which obsessed poor Hughie.
The train as usual dashed into the station with a haughty can't-stop-at-a-hole-like-this expression, only to clank across some points and grind itself to an ignominious and asthmatic standstill at a distant point beside the solitary and interminable platform which, together with a ticket-office and a bookstall, prevents Cambridge railway station from being mistaken for a rather out-of-date dock-shed.
Presently Hughie, running rapidly, observed his guests descending from a carriage.

First came a pleasant-faced lady of between thirty and forty, followed by a stout and easy-going husband. Next, an oldish gentleman with a white moustache and a choleric blue eye. And finally--pretty, fresh, and disturbing--appeared the fons et origo of the entire expedition, on whose account the disposition and incidents of Hughie's luncheon-party had been so cunningly planned and so laboriously rehearsed--Miss Mildred Freshwater.
The party greeted their host characteristically. His uncle, even as he shook hands, let drop a few fervent anticipatory remarks on the subject of lunch; Mr. Ames, who was an old college boat captain, coupled his greeting with an anxious inquiry as to the club's prospects of success that evening; Mrs. Ames' eyes plainly said, "Well, I've brought her, my boy; now wire in!" and Miss Freshwater, when it came to her turn, shook hands with an unaffected pleasure and camaraderie which would have suited Hughie better if there had been discernible upon her face what Yum-Yum once pithily summed up as "a trace of diffidence or shyness."
Still, Hughie was so enraptured with the vision before him that he failed to observe a small and shrinking figure which had coyly emerged from the train, and was hanging back, as if doubtful about its reception, behind Mrs. Ames' skirts. Presently it detached itself and stood before Hughie in the form of a small girl with coppery brown hair and wide grey-blue eyes.
"Joey!" shouted Hughie.
"She would come!" explained his uncle, in the resigned tones of a strong man who knows his limits.
The lady indicated advanced to Hughie's side, and, taking his hand, rubbed herself ingratiatingly against him in the inarticulate but eloquent manner peculiar to dumb animals and young children.

Macho Musings: A Sleepy delve into Ian Hay's A Man's Man Chapters 1 and  2 read by Jason
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