The Spike: or, Victoria College Review 1912
Helen and I
Helen and I.
Helen and I have been engaged since the Persecution. At least, it's settled now. Until last Thursday there was some doubt on the point. I said we were; Helen said we were not. She said it was purely platonic—nothing but good-fellowship.
Of course I objected. I told her that her feelings might be platonic, but as for mine, they were decidedly the reverse. I told her that if there was one thing more than another that I utterly detested, it was this idea of platonic friendship. I questioned whether Plato, even in his most ridiculous moments, had ever been in favour of such a thing, and I requested to be informed if she had read Plato in the original. She had not. I assured her that it was only by reading him in the page 45 original that an intelligent appreciation of his views could be arrived at, and I gave it as my reasoned opinion that Plato was fundamentally opposed to anything of the sort. Finally, I mentioned as an indisputable fact that Plato was dead. I spoke warmly.
"That sounds all right," said Helen, "but it's wrong. I know it is."
"But this platonic business is contrary to human nature," I argued.
"It's not," said Helen; "I'm sure it's not."
"Why, dash it all," said I, "how the dickens can you explain your behaviour that day Daphne introduced us? If we're not engaged, the whole thing's dashed improper."
"Oh, that," said Helen, a little troubled; "that's all right. You looked so horribly upset. And I was sorry. That was quite platonic."
"Well, I'm not going to have any of it," said I.
"You can't help yourself," said Helen; "I know I'm right." I groaned. I flatter myself I can argue, right or wrong, with most men, but the logic of a woman makes me gasp. I gave it up.
"It's quite understood that I'm not feeling platonic," said I.
"Oh, quite," said Helen, with a friendly smile. I cursed, and cleared out to think it over. But there didn't seem anything to do, except await developments.
I stood it for a deuce of a time, but developments didn't seem to develop. At last I decided to enlist Daphne.
I think I've mentioned before that, despite her failings, Daphne's not a bad sort of a sister, and on this occasion she played up like a brick. I told her the whole yarn, and humbly asked advice.
"You don't believe in this platonic idea, do you ?" I asked.
"Certainly not," said Daphne, very decidedly. She saw me looking at her, and blushed. Daphne and George Harvey—but that's a secret yet.
"Well, go ahead," said I. "What's to be done?" Daphne sat down and sucked a pencil. It was an ink pencil, and she got her tongue all blue, but Daphne page 46 doesn't mind a little thing like that. When she got herself nearly inky enough to warrant my interfering on humanitarian grounds, she sat up.
"I've got it," said Daphne. She expounded.
"What you've got to do," said she, "is to cultivate a platonic friendship yourself."
"Not me," said I. I always believe in sticking to my guns.
"For another girl," said Daphne, impatiently. "You can easily get some girl or other." I grasped it now.
"D' you think it will work"? I asked. I was a bit dubious.
"Of course it will," said Daphne. "She'll get jealous; you'll see.
It seemed a risky thing, but I tried it. In a manner I suppose it may be said to have worked, but it didn't work in the right direction. I suppose I overdid it—I know I did. Anyhow, Helen took it badly, and refused to speak to me at all.
This was no good—things were getting worse, and seemed likely to stay that way. Of course, I blamed Daphne, and Daphne cried, and I felt a brute. And of course Daphne tried to mend matters, and got snubbed. And things were miserable all round until Bub took a hand.
Bub is my bull-pup. I have no false pride, and I am willing to admit that his appearance is not Bub's strong point. He has the most frightful face ever seen outside a nightmare—something extra special even as bull-dogs go. But his heart is the heart of a saint. We call him Bub because he's such a bally ass. His one ambition is to be friendly with the world, and he spends half his time making friendly overtures to everything that lives, and the other half accepting terrified rebuffs. The baker, a nervous man, has refused to serve us, and the grocer leaves his things at the gate. And I know that if there are any two men on this globe with whom Bub desires to be on terms of more than usual intimacy these two are the men. But such is his life—a living tragedy.
The Brats (alias Bobby and Jimmy—fraternal relatives and staunch friends of mine, aged 7 and 5)—have not the slightest respect for him, and it is one of their page 47 greatest pleasures in life to make a football of the delighted animal. But perhaps the favourite game with both Bub and the Brats is a sort of simplified "tag." The Brats run off with hoots and yells, and Bub gives chase. He is not built on speed lines, and he seldom overtakes them, but when he does it is one of the rules of the game that he jumps at them.
But to get back. Last Thursday Bub and I were sitting on the verandah ruminating on the rottenness of Denmark, when the garden gate opened and Helen came in. (She still came to see Daphne, though they were a lot cooler.) I got up to clear out, but Bub, always the gentleman, went to meet the visitor.
Now, 1 don't know whether Bub was feeling particularly lively that afternoon, or whether he thought that Helen looked the sort to relish a game of "tag," but any-how he assumed that he was "it," and started to play. Helen saw him coming, stopped—and took to flight.
That was all right from Bub's point of view. She was clearly a good sort. He put on an extra spurt in the amiable endeavour to make the game a bit more interesting. Helen met his effort on a £ for £ basis. Down the path to the summerhouse they dashed, while I looked on, wondering whether to laugh or not. A ladder was lying against the little bower, and Helen dashed at it as a hope of escape. She climbed to the roof, breathless, and very frightened.
Bub was a bit confused. The Brats never did anything like this. But his enthusiasm never flagged. He attempted the ladder, but failed. He tried to jump, and beat his previous record of six inches by a clear inch. He then sat down to think it out.
It was at this moment that the idea struck me. Here was the possibility of a drama—the stage setting, the injured heroine, and the villain (in this case also acting the part of comic relief). But the show was minus a hero. I stood up. I would be the hero.
I strolled down the path and took a seat on the garden roller. Bub wagged what he calls his tail, but Helen stood to her dignity.
"Don't let me interrupt you, Bub," said I. I lit my pipe. Bub got to work again, and finding a window at page 48 the back, made strenuous assaults on it. His idea clearly was "once within the window and the girl is mine." He assaulted for three minutes, and then gave it up.
He came round to the front again, obviously a dog with an idea, and left me to keep an eye on the ladder while he sought assistance. Before Helen could at-tempt to escape he was back again, bringing his friend Bob. Bob is a terrier—sharp as a needle. Bub rather looks down on him as a fellow without a soul above rats and the like, but whenever there is any thinking to be done, he calls in Bob.
The two arrived in a state of great exhilaration. Bub sat down and waited for Bob to elucidate. The latter toured the building, and then sat down too. He gave it as his opinion that it was No Go—the position was be-yond him. He then left.
But Bub did not know when he was beaten. He again attempted the ladder, and got as far as the third step when he got excited, and fell off". He then tried a new plan. He retired to a distance and rushed the ladder.
Helen shrieked. Bub grinned, and did it again—a better one. I honestly believe that with a bit of practice Bub could have reached the fourth step. But this was enough for Helen. She threw her dignity to the winds.
"Oh, take him away," said she. Here was my cue.
"Bub," said I, in a sorrowful tone; "Bub, old man, I'm afraid I shall have to shoot you. There's that tramp you put in the hospital—£5 I paid him. Then the old boy you mangled—you know what a lot of trouble I had with his relatives. And then the baker yesterday—a nice penny he'll cost. You'll have to be shot, old man; your tastes are too expensive." Bub rushed again. He was getting elated. Helen retired to the middle of the roof.
"Oh, please," said Helen, "take him away." I was adamant. Bub took another run and jump—a beauty.
"I'm afraid you're annoying the lady," said I. But Bub thought differently. They were having a high old time. He retired for another jump. I decided that the time was ripe. I called him over, and stood up.page 49
Helen cheered up immensely. "That's right," said she, with a sigh of relief; "take him right away, please."
"Please what?" said I.
"Walter," said Helen.
"Walter what?" I returned. Nothing like striking while the iron is hot. Helen said nothing.
"What do I get if I do?" I asked. "It's a dangerous job."
"Nothing!" said Helen, indignantly. Bub got tired of waiting, and started again. Helen drew up her feet hastily. I determined to labour the point.
"What do I get if I do?" said I. Bub grinned again. He looks awful when he grins. Helen collapsed.
"Anything," said she.
"Give up Plato?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," said Helen, "anything." This was enough.
"Bub," said I, "there's the Butcher's Dorg at the gate. Bub is on very friendly terms with the Butcher's Dorg, and he lumbered away to pass the time of day Helen, with an eye on Bub, started to come down the ladder. I waited at the foot. Bub went out for a run with the Butcher's Dorg, and she transferred her attention to a worthier object. She came down slowly. At the third step she paused.
"Oh!" said she.
"What's up now?" I asked. Helen looked troubled.
"It's that horrid girl," said she. I grinned.
"Oh, that's all right," said I. "That was quite platonic. You ask Daphne."
Helen, thank the Lord, has a sense of humour. She looked angry for a minute, and then she smiled.
"I think I've been silly," said Helen. She blushed
"I know you have," said I, cheerfully.
Helen came down slowly. Bub watched from the gate.
I had to help her over the broken rung at the bottom, and—well—
Helen and I are engaged now.
C. A. Berendsen.