Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/171

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The Cricketers' Arms

for half a pint, which he drank in the hope of steadying his nerves for a great effort. His opponent meanwhile threw the rings at the board and missed it every time, but all the same he scored, for one ring, after striking the partition about a foot above the board, fell down and caught on the hook.

The other man now began his innings, playing very carefully, and nearly every ring scored. As he played, the others uttered explanations of admiration and called out the result of every throw.

'One again!'
'Miss!—No! got'im! two!'

The Semi-Drunk accepted his defeat with a good grace, and after explaining that he was a bit out of practice, placed a shilling on the counter and invited the company to give their orders. Everyone asked for 'the same again,' but the landlord served Easton, Bundy and the Besotted Wretch with pints instead of half-pints as before, so there was no change out of the shilling.

'You know, there's a great deal in not bein' used to the board,' said the Semi-Drunk.

'There's no disgrace in bein' beat by a man like 'im, mate,' said Philpot, ''e's a champion!'

'Yes, there's no mistake about it. 'E throws a splendid ring!' said Bundy.

This was the general verdict. The Semi-Drunk, though beaten, was not disgraced, and he was so affected by the good feeling manifested by the company that he presently produced a sixpence and insisted on paying for another half-pint all round.

'Let's 'ave a game of shove-'apenny,' said Bundy.

'All right,' said Easton who was beginning to feel reckless. 'But drink up first, and let's 'ave another.'

He had only sevenpence left, just enough to pay for another pint for Crass and half a pint for everyone else.

The shove-'apenny table was a planed mahogany board with a number of parallel lines scored across it, the game being to place the coin at the end of the board, the rim slightly projecting over the edge, and strike it with