And continuing the parable. This is where George seems most like me….. on some of my best days – and the episode’s end is the basis of some of my most frightening nightmares. Read on and see for yourself…..
~~ I drove, and managed to clear the rough and reach the fairway. But it was not one of my best drives. George Mackintosh, I confess, had unnerved me. The feeling he gave me resembled the self-conscious panic which I used to experience in my childhood when informed that there was One Awful Eye that watched my every movement and saw my every act. It was only the fact that poor Celia appeared even more affected by his espionage that enabled me to win the first hole in seven.
On the way to the second tee George discoursed on the beauties of Nature, pointing out at considerable length how exquisitely the silver glitter of the lake harmonized with the vivid emerald turf near the hole and the duller green of the rough beyond it. As Celia teed up her ball, he directed her attention to the golden glory of the sand-pit to the left of the flag. It was not the spirit in which to approach the lake-hole, and I was not surprised when the unfortunate girl’s ball fell with a sickening plop half-way across the water.
“Where you went wrong there,” said George, “was that you made the stroke a sudden heave instead of a smooth, snappy flick of the wrists. Pressing is always bad, but with the mashie——”
“I think I will give you this hole,” said Celia to me, for my shot had cleared the water and was lying on the edge of the green. “I wish I hadn’t used a new ball.”
“The price of golf-balls,” said George, as we started to round the lake, “is a matter to which economists should give some attention. I am credibly informed that rubber at the present time is exceptionally cheap. Yet we see no decrease in the price of golf-balls, which, as I need scarcely inform you, are rubber-cored. Why should this be so? You will say that the wages of skilled labour have gone up. True. But——”
“One moment, George, while I drive,” I said. For we had now arrived at the third tee.
“A curious thing, concentration,” said George, “and why certain phenomena should prevent us from focusing our attention—— This brings me to the vexed question of sleep. Why is it that we are able to sleep through some vast convulsion of Nature when a dripping tap is enough to keep us awake? I am told that there were people who slumbered peacefully through the San Francisco earthquake, merely stirring drowsily from time to time to tell an imaginary person to leave it on the mat. Yet these same people——”
Celia’s drive bounded into the deep ravine which yawns some fifty yards from the tee. A low moan escaped her.
“Where you went wrong there——” said George.
“I know,” said Celia. “I lifted my head.”
I had never heard her speak so abruptly before. Her manner, in a girl less noticeably pretty, might almost have been called snappish. George, however, did not appear to have noticed anything amiss. He filled his pipe and followed her into the ravine.
“Remarkable,” he said, “how fundamental a principle of golf is this keeping the head still. You will hear professionals tell their pupils to keep their eye on the ball. Keeping the eye on the ball is only a secondary matter. What they really mean is that the head should be kept rigid, as otherwise it is impossible to——”
His voice died away. I had sliced my drive into the woods on the right, and after playing another had gone off to try to find my ball, leaving Celia and George in the ravine behind me. My last glimpse of them showed me that her ball had fallen into a stone-studded cavity in the side of the hill, and she was drawing her niblick from her bag as I passed out of sight. George’s voice, blurred by distance to a monotonous murmur, followed me until I was out of earshot.
I was just about to give up the hunt for my ball in despair, when I heard Celia’s voice calling to me from the edge of the undergrowth. There was a sharp note in it which startled me.
I came out, trailing a portion of some unknown shrub which had twined itself about my ankle.
“Yes?” I said, picking twigs out of my hair.
“I want your advice,” said Celia.
“Certainly. What is the trouble? By the way,” I said, looking round, “where is your fiance?”
“I have no fiance,” she said, in a dull, hard voice.
“You have broken off the engagement?”
“Not exactly. And yet—well, I suppose it amounts to that.”
“I don’t quite understand.”
“Well, the fact is,” said Celia, in a burst of girlish frankness, “I rather think I’ve killed George.”
To be continued….