Sundays I gen'ally go up
the river. I'm a Member of a Piskytorial Association. I don't do any
fishin', to mention, but I jest carry a rod in my 'and. Railway
Comp'ny takes anglers at reduced fares, you see, Sir.... No, Sir,
don't stay 'ere all day long. Sometimes the Guv'nor sends me out to
wait on parties at their own residences. Pleasant change, Sir? Ah,
you're right there, Sir! There's one lady as lives in Prague Villas,
Sir. I've been to do her 'air many a time. (He sighs sentimentally.)
I did like waitin' on 'er, Sir. Sech a beautiful woman she is, too,—with
'er face so white, ah! 'AWKINS her name is, and her 'usban' a
stockbroker. She was an actress once, Sir, but she give that up when
she married. Told me she'd 'ad to work 'ard all her life to support
her Ma, and she did think after she was married she was goin' to
enjoy herself—but she 'adn't! Ah, she was a nice lady, Sir; she'd
got her 'air in sech a tangle it took me three weeks to get it
right! I showed her three noo ways of doin' up her 'air, and she
says to me, "What a clever young man you are!" Her very words, Sir!
Trim the ends of your moustache, Sir? Thankee, Sir. Yes, she was a
charmin' woman. She 'ad three parrots in the room with 'er, swearin'
orful. I enjoyed goin there, Sir; yes, Sir. Ain't been for ever sech
a while now, Sir. I did think of callin' again and pertendin' I'd
forgot a comb, Sir, but I done that once, and I'm afraid it wouldn't
do twice, would it, Sir? Sixteen her number is—a sweet number, Sir!
Limewash or brilliantine, Sir?... And I know 'er maid and her man,
too; oh, she keeps a grand 'ouse, Sir! (Observing that the
Sympathetic Customer is gradually growing red in the face and
getting hysterical.) Towel too tight for you, Sir? Allow me; thank
you, Sir. (Here two fresh Customers enter.) Ready for you in one
moment, Gentlemen. The other Assistant is downstairs 'aving his tea,
but he'll be up directly
[The two fresh
Customers watch one another suspiciously, after the manner of
Britons. The first, who is elderly, removes his hat and displays
an abundance of strong grizzled hair, which he surveys
complacently in a mirror. The second, a younger man, seems
reluctant to uncover until absolutely obliged to do so.
The Grizzled Customer
(to the Other Customer, as his natural self-satisfaction
overcomes his reserve). 'Shtonishing how fast one's hair does
grow. It's not three weeks since I had a close crop. Great nuisance,
The Other Customer
(with evident embarrassment). Er—eh, yes—quite so, I—I
[He takes up a
back number of "Punch," and reads the advertisements with deep
interest. Meanwhile, the Loquacious Assistant has bowed
out the Sympathetic Customer, and touched a bell. A
Saturnine Assistant appears, still masticating
bread-and-butter. The Second Customer removes his hat,
revealing a denuded crown, and thereby causing surprise and a
distinct increase of complacency in the Grizzled Gentleman,
who submits himself to the Loquacious Assistant. The
Bald Customer sinks resignedly into the chair indicated by
the Saturnine Operator, feeling apologetic and conscious
that he is not affording a fair scope for that gentleman's
professional talent. The other Assistant appears to take
a reflected pride in his subject.
The Loq. Ass. (to
the Grizzled Customer). Remarkable how some parties do
keep their 'air, Sir! Now yours—(with a disparaging glance at the
Bald Customer's image in the mirror)—yours grows quite
remarkable strong. Do you use anythink for it now?
The Gr. C. Not I.
Leave that to those who are not so well protected!
The Loq. Ass. I
was on'y wondering if you'd been applying our Rosicrucian Stimulant,
Sir, that's all. There's the gentleman next door to here—a chemist,
he is—and if you'll believe me, he was gettin' as bald as a robin,
and he'd only tried it a fortnight when his 'ed come out all over
The Gr. C.
Brussels, what? Sprouts, eh?
The Loq. Ass.
Hee-hee! no, Sir, brustles like on a brush. But you can afford to
'ave your laugh, Sir!
The Sat. Ass. (to
the Bald Customer, with withering deference). Much off,
The B.C. (weakly
thinking to propitiate by making light of his infirmity). Well,
there isn't much on, is there?
The S.A. (taking
a mean advantage). Well, Sir, it wouldn't be a very long job
numberin' all the 'airs on your 'ed, cert'nly! (Severely,
as one reproaching him for carelessness.) You 'ave been
losin' your 'air! Puts me in mind of what the poet says in 'Amlet.
"Oh, what a fallin' off!" if you'll excuse me, Sir!
The B.C. (with
a sensitive squirm). Oh, don't apologise—I'm used to it,
The S.A. Ah, Sir,
they do say the wind's tempered to the shorn lamb so as he can't see
'imself as other's see 'im. But what you ought to 'ave is a
little toopy. Make 'em so as you couldn't tell it from natural 'air
Customer feebly declines this meretricious adornment.
The Loq. Ass. (to
his subject). Know Mr. PARIS PATTERTON of the Proscenium Theatre,
Sir? 'E's 'ad to call in our Guv'nor, Sir. 'Is 'air's comin, off,
Sir, dreadful, Sir. The Guv'nor's been tryin' a noo wash on his 'ed.
The Gr. C. Ha,
poor beggar! Wash doing it any good?
The Loq. Ass. (demurely).
That I can't tell you, Sir; but it 'as a very agreeable perfùme.
The S.A. I think
I've taken off about as much as you can spare, Sir!
The Gr. C. (with
a note of triumph). Look here, you know, there's a lot more to
come off here—won't be missed, eh?
The Loq. Ass. No,
Sir, you've an uncommon thick 'ed—of 'air, I mean, of course!
The S.A. If
you'll take my advice, you'll 'ave yours singed, Sir.
The B.C. (dejectedly).
Why, think it's any use?
The S.A. No doubt
of that, Sir. Look at the way they singe a 'orse's legs. [The
Bald Customer yields, convinced by this argument.
The Gr. C. No
singeing or any nonsense of that sort for me, mind!
The B.C. (piteously,
from his basin). Th—that's c-cold enough, thanks!
The Gr. C. (aggressively
from his). Here, colder than that—as cold as you can make
it—I don't care!
The B.C. (drying
his face meekly on a towel). A—a hand-brush, please,
not the machine!
The S.A. No, Sir,
machine-brush would about sweep all the 'air off your 'ed,
The Gr. C.
Machinery for me—and your hardest brush, do you hear?
The Loq. Ass.
(together, to their respective patients.
Shall I put anything on your 'ed, Sir?
Like anything on your 'air, Sir?
The B.C. (hopelessly).
Oh, I don't know that it's much good!
The S.A. Well,
you may as well keep what little you 'ave got, Sir. Like to
try our 'Irsutine Lotion, capital thing, Sir. Known it answer in the
most desprit cases. Keep it in 'alf-crown or three-and-sixpenny
sizes. Can I 'ave the pleasure of puttin' you up a
three-and-sixpenny one, Sir? (The Bald Customer musters up
moral courage to decline, at which the Assistant appears
disgusted with him.) No, Sir? Much obliged, Sir. Let me see—(with
a touch of sarcasm)—you part your 'air a one side, I think,
Sir? Brush your 'at, Sir? Thankee, Sir. Pay at the counter, if
you please. Shop—there!
The Loq. Ass.
Think your 'air's as you like it now, Sir? Like to look at yourself
in a 'and-glass, Sir? Thank you, Sir.
Customer puts on his hat with relief, and instantly recovers
his self-respect sufficiently to cast a defiant glare upon his
rival, and walk out with dignity. The Grizzled Customer
after prolonged self-inspection, follows. The two Assistants
are left alone.
The Loq. Ass.
Pretty proud of his 'air, that party, eh? Notice how I tumbled to
The S.A. (with
superiority). I heard you, o' course, but, as I'm always
tellin' you, you don't do it delicate enough! When you've
been in the profession as long as I have, and seen as much of human
nature, you'll begin to understand how important it is to 'ave tact.
Now you never 'eard me stoop to flattery nor yet
over-familiarity—and yet you can see for yourself I manage without 'urting
nobody's feelings—however bald! That's tact, that is!