Page:Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.djvu/172

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

the back of the hand to the particular spot required by the player.

'What's become of Alf to-night?' inquired Philpot of the landlord, whilst Easton and Bundy were playing. Alf was the barman.

''E's doing a bit of a job down in the cellar; some of the valves gone a bit wrong. But the missus is comin' down to lend me a hand presently. 'Ere she is now.'

The landlady—who at this moment entered through the door at the back of the bar—was a large woman with a highly coloured countenance and a tremendous bust, encased in a black dress with a shot silk blouse. She had several jewelled gold rings on the fingers of each fat white hand, and a long gold watch guard hung round her fat neck. She greeted Crass and Philpot with condescension, smiling affably upon them.

Meantime the game of shove-'apenny proceeded merrily, Semi-Drunk taking a great interest in it and tendering advice to both players impartially. Bundy was badly beaten; and then Easton suggested that it was time to think of going home. This proposal—slightly modified—met with general approval, the modification being suggested by Philpot, who insisted on standing one final round of drinks before they went.

While they were pouring this down, Crass took a penny from his waistcoat pocket and put it in the slot of the polyphone. The landlord put a fresh disc into it and it began to play "The Boys of the Old Bulldog Breed." The Semi-Drunk happened to know the words of the chorus of this song, and when he heard the music he started unsteadily to his feet and with many fierce looks and gestures began to roar at the top of his voice:—

'They may build their ships, my lads,
And try to play the game,
But they can't build the boys of the Bulldog breed,
Wot made ole Hingland's'—

''Ere! stop that, will yer?' cried the Old Dear fiercely, 'I told you once before that I don't allow that sort of thing in my 'ouse!'

The Semi-Drunk stopped in confusion. 'I didn't mean no 'arm,' he said unsteadily, appealing to the company.