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impression that it is unfair, shouts to the ball, "Stop, you fool!" or words to that effect. Then there is the player who cannot help giving a violent kick at the critical moment, or making some other grotesque contortion. These habits are bad, and can be controlled; they are not natural, but are generally imitated by the novice from some person whose style he admires. The form of nervousness which affects the mind is far more difficult to cope with, and even to describe; for the player may have sufficient self-control to appear fairly calm, yet at a critical moment of the game he will surely He is often a very break down. apgood player, but he is a very bad man to back.

There are many varieties of the nervous player-indeed, in the most extended sense it may justly be said that every player is occasionally nervous; still, some men have less control over their nerves or are less liable to be upset than others. It shows differently in different people. With some the body seems chiefly affected, with others the mind. We are all familiar with the man who can control neither feature nor limb when watching the progress of a ball, who brandishes his cue to the imminent danger of spectators, of whom for the moment he is completely oblivious, or of the lamps, and who, as ball a proaches a pocket, pirouettes in front for its encouragement, and should it seem to draw off, immediately backs or walks gently in the other direction, as if some subtle influence passing from him could induce a deviation from its path. Sometimes these antics are very amusing, but too many of them soon pall. We also know the person who plays steadily enough and in correct form so long as success lasts; but if unlucky and just missing his strokes, he gives vent to a prolonged whistle, intended, we suppose, at once to relieve his own feelings and to indicate to the spectators his intense surprise at a phenomenon so remarkable as his failure. A variety of this type consoles himself, when things are going wrong, by whistling a tune or even singing sadly to himself, and he usually is destitute of all ear for music; whilst another gentleman, seeing his ball approach a cannon or a pocket, cannot contain himself, but adjures the ball in terms of tender endearment to come on and not be afraid, whereas his opponent, alarmed at the encouragement thus given, and perhaps not without an

There are many other types, such as the conceited player, who is always ready to give any amount of points, and whose bounce occasionally seems actually to command success: if defeated, he will explain that he had nothing to play for, was not up to his old form, or has other equally valid excuses to offer. Then we have met men who did not care to play unless they had 6 to 4 the best of the game at starting, and who generally proved to be very bad losers; others, pleasant cheery fellows, who somehow have imbibed a notion that the game is nothing without a flow of conversation, which they supply according to their ability. It often takes the form of criticism or inquiry concerning the last-played stroke, and an explanation, for the most part very ridiculous, of the causes of failure. The man who plays for exercise because ordered to do so by his doctor may almost be considered a type. He is generally stout, seldom a superior player, but very often develops great fondness for the

game, and is an agreeable oppo


A terrible nuisance in the billiard-room is the spectator who feels it his duty to make remarks on the game. If he is alone in the room with two players, he selects one to whom he extends his sympathy; he expatiates in the most ignorant and gratuitous manner on the excellence of that one's strokes, and the hard lines meted out to him when failure is the result. Not improbably this servile adulator of the one player may be discourteous to the other; and as no person with a real knowledge of the game would be likely to act such a part, the value of his criticism may readily be appraised.

Passing from the billiard-room and its occupants, let us return to John Roberts and matters concerning the championship of the game. In 1885 he defeated first Cook, then Bennett, and since that year he has never been challenged under the conditions in force when he won his title. That being so, one would imagine that he is still indisputably champion, and must remain so till defeated on a 3-inch pocket table, all-in, or till he resigns. Nevertheless, on this point there has recently been a great deal of controversy, not always conducted in such a way as to induce great respect for the views urged, or for the judicial capacity, discrimination, and courtesy of the writers.

The question seems to have arisen thus. Whilst no one approached Roberts's form on a championship table, several players acquired an extraordinary power of making the spot-stroke on an ordinary table with 3-inch pockets. But it so happened that for exhibition matches-in other words, in order to get the largest gate


money from the public-Roberts preferred the easier table, but barred the spot-stroke, and in both acts his judgment was probably sound. The majority of spectators, not understanding the beauties of that stroke, considered it monotonous, but at the same time they liked to see large breaks rapidly scored, and this combination was possible only in the way Roberts selected. Hence he abandoned spot practice, not because he could not play that stroke, but because he thought it would not pay.

Now in 1885 certain persons interested in billiards formed themselves into a body which was named the "Billiard Association of Great Britain and Ireland, India, and the Colonies." Their committee consisted chiefly of professional players and reporters of the sporting press. Their bestknown work is a set of rules compiled by some of the players, with Roberts as chairman. Though the code is faulty, the billiard world is no doubt indebted to their labours. The Association also made a laudable endeavour to secure uniformity in the matter of ordinary tables, calling their design "standard Association tables." They instituted matches on them, all-in and spot-barred, of which Peall gained the former and Mitchell the latter, so that on this pattern of table Peall became the all-in champion, and Mitchell the spot-barred champion.

In course of time, and on several occasions, Peall challenged Roberts to play, all-in, on the standard Association table; but the latter, secure in his position as champion on the championship table, always declined. From this certain persons argue that Peall, not Roberts, is entitled to be styled champion, whilst others treat that claim as ridiculous. The question, as far


as we can judge, lies in a nutshell. We may be wrong and are merely gossiping, but it seems to us that the whole controversy turns on the issue whether the Billiard Association is recognised as the final authority in billiard matters. Is there anything to warrant such an assumption? Roberts scoffs at the notion, and whilst stating, we believe correctly, that the championship table was not finally abolished by the Association, he adds that even if it had been, no one concerned with the championship would have cared a straw. In other words, he distinctly disallows the claim of the Association to represent and legislate for the billiard world. And he has good grounds, we think, for doing so, because as now composed it is not sufficiently representative of every class of player. Still, in the absence of a better chosen body which shall be to billiards what the M.C.C. is to cricket, the Association may reasonably claim to exercise some influence in matters concerning the game.

From this controversy as to who is champion there arose a challenge to Peall, under which Roberts agreed to give him 12,000 points out of 24,000 for £500 a-side on an ordinary table, spot-barred. The match was played at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, during the fort night from February 15 to 27, and, throughout, the public interest never flagged. Lords and ladies, statesmen and legislators, attended, sharing the excitement with humbler folk, and the papers were full of details. It will suffice to say that, as is not infrequently the case, Roberts lost ground at starting, thereby greatly diminishing his chances of winning; but in the later stages of the game he scored

with such rapidity as to recover the arrears and place success within his reach. Indeed, Peall won only by the small margin of 310 points, about equal to 1 point in 80, and owes his victory to a very fine break of 395 played at a critical moment during the final stage. Now this, though a most meritorious performance, and one which no doubt was a severe strain and test of nerve, is not the sort of event on which it is safe to rely. Breaks and opportunities do not always come when they are most wanted, and with but 310 points to make, and Roberts to make them, all must agree that Peall's margin of safety was dangerously small. Nothing_can more conclusively attest Roberts's extraordinary powers than the game in question; for he has conclusively shown that he did not greatly overestimate his ability to give so sound and good a player as his antagonist undoubtedly is, a start of half the game.

As a final subject of gossip, it is worth thinking for a moment of the return or money made by the players. The figures must be considered as approximate only, but they will serve to enlighten many persons as to the possibilities and prospects of players at the head of their profession. The Hall was generally crowded, and the receipts have been stated at £3000, which is no doubt considerably too sanguine an estimate. Taking half that amount as nearer the truth, and deducting £120 provided for expenses, Roberts would get about £900 or a little more, and Peall about £450, for a fortnight's work. In less fortunate professions these amounts would be considered respectable incomes for a year.




THE licensed victualler's busi- to leave her; the doctor had told ness at the "Borrowed Plume" her he was sick unto death and was in danger of being transferred must die. -nay, at the time I write the transfer had almost actually occurred. Old John Tilbury, long known in the neighbourhood as an honest man, was dying, and his wife would have to reign in his stead.

And even as in dynasties so in many smaller concerns of life the cry is ever, "Le roi est mort! vive le roi !"

Thus the sequence of things is maintained, and in this case the small round of monotonous duties to the public would remain unbroken. But this external acquiescence only served to throw into sharp relief the very opposite feelings which had paralysed John Tilbury's wife with a sense of the disruption of all things when first she understood the serious nature of her husband's condition. For she was (and I state it apologetically in the face of a pessimistic world) absorbed in her devotion to her husband. She had married when a mere girl, and he was a man past fifty; and in the absence of her parents, who were both dead, she had loved him as a husband and her one great friend.

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And all existence had become shrouded with a great cloud, and for days she had cried stealthily to herself when out of his sight.

But with him she was ever. attentive, as for the last time, to those small unexpected thoughts to which the sick man gave expression, and to the simple charity which as ever coloured all his utterances, while she moved about his room and wondered dully why God allowed human hearts to break and her happiness to end. And he, on his part, knowing his end was come, was trying feebly to arrange everything before he left this world. He did not fear death, only the loneliness it would bring on her. So his mind was troubled.

"Mary," he said one day, "I wonder where Biddulph is! Abroad somewhere, I suppose!"

He was referring to an old friend of theirs, a man some years his junior, who was a corn importer, and lived when at home in their neighbourhood. This had occurred once or twice, for a sudden wish had arisen in his heart, and finally, having asked his wife one evening to lift him up in bed, he had murmured

"I wonder where Biddulph is, deary!" Then looking up, he added, "Would you mind marrying him when I am gone?"

Mary started and her colour went. Instinctively she glanced at him; but he was quite coherent, and bending her head down, she writhed under his words.

"Oh, don't, John," she wailed. "But, Mary, you can't remember me always, and you'd be glad then; and he said to me once he thought I was a lucky fellow to have you."

But there was no answer, only a sob. Suddenly she looked up and said

"John, you and he did not agree at Christmas, do you remember? He was laughing because you thought so much of the blue jar."

"Yes; he ain't no eye for colour. That's what young Mr Jeffrey, who painted here in the summer, called it. And in coorse he would not submit to it. And it's real Saver, and my grandmother got it given. her by one of them poor refugees from France." For a moment he paused, for he easily tired, and he lay there gently stroking his wife's hand.

"In coorse he would not submit to it," he repeated slowly, "ef he did not admire it-saw no colour in it, so to speak. Mary," he went on, "you'll never sell or give away that jar? It was in my old mother's parlour ever since I was any height."

She nodded, for she hardly trusted herself to speak.

"He'd want to sell it ef yer married him. Ef he didn't like it. Why did he not like it?" he went on querulously. "We've

The weary months, which dragged on as milestones on the road to despair and utter loneliness, seemed at one time to Mary Tilbury after her husband's death as never to end. She was a young woman still, with all the zest and beauty of youth left, and had known no life except with him, and had had no interests except


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"Yes," said his wife, and there was a certain eagerness in her voice.

"But maybe I was cross, and he'll grow older and eppreciate it," he said, his usual optimism about others showing itself.

"Then yer'll marry him?" he added, with quiet assurance. "Oh, don't, John; it's cruel." "Oh, Mary dear, it's for you I wants it. Say yer'll marry him if he gets to admire it. He'd stand by yer and love yer."

Evidently the idea had taken full possession of the sick man's mind and he was worrying over it. The woman moved uneasily in her chair, while the ticking of the clock in the silence seemed to be beating time to her swaying thoughts. Then she turned and said gently—

"Don't fret, John dear; it shall be as you wish."

And the answer had made the old man happy, and the woman was satisfied it could lead to nothing.

And within a few days of this old John Tilbury passed away, leaving, as far as mortal man can tell, not an enemy behind him.

his. And now that it had ended so suddenly, she could hardly realise to herself sometimes that he was not there. Fortunate it was for her in those days that she had her sister Annie, a girl somewhat younger than herself, staying with her. At least she could get away at times from the bustle of the inn and those guests whose

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