Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/169

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The Cricketers' Arms


'Can't I? I can play you, anyway.'

'Right you are! I'll play you for drinks round!' cried the Semi-Drunk.

For a moment the Besotted Wretch hesitated. He had not money enough to pay for drinks round. However, feeling confident of winning, he replied:

'Come on then: what's it to be? Fifty up?'

'Anything you like! Fifty or a 'undred or a bloody million!'

'Better make it fifty for a start.'

'All right!'

'You play first if you like.'

'All right,' agreed the Semi-Drunk, anxious to distinguish himself.

Holding the six rings in his left hand the man stood in the middle of the floor at a distance of about three yards from the board, with his right foot advanced. Taking one of the rings between the forefinger and thumb of his right hand, and closing his left eye, he carefully 'sighted' the centre hook, No. 13; then he slowly extended his arm to its full length in the direction of the board; then bending his elbow, he brought his hand back again until it nearly touched his chin, and slowly extended his arm again. He repeated these movements several times, whilst the others watched with bated breath. Getting it right at last he suddenly shot the ring at the board, but it did not go on No. 13; it went over the partition into the private bar.

This feat was greeted with a roar of laughter. The player stared at the board in a dazed way, wondering what had become of the ring, but when someone in the next bar threw it over the partition again, he realised what had happened, and turning to the company with a sickly smile, remarked:

'I ain't got properly used to this board yet: that's the reason of it.'

He now began throwing the other rings at the board rather wildly, without troubling to take aim. One struck the partition to the right of the board, one to the left, one underneath, one went over the counter, one on the floor, the other—the last—hit the board, and amid a shout of applause, caught on the centre hook, No. 13, the highest number possible to score with a single throw.

'I shall be all right now that I've got the range,' observed the Semi-Drunk, as he made way for his opponent.

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