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burned well, and on the top we flung the bodies of the green doves. The birds of Ashtaroth had an honourable pyre.

Then I dismissed the muchperplexed men, and gravely shook hands with Jobson. Black with dust and smoke I went back to the house, where I bade Travers pack my bags and order the motor. I found Lawson's servant, and heard from him that his master was sleeping peacefully. I gave him some directions, and then went to wash and change.

Before I left I wrote a line to Lawson. I began by transcribing the verses from the 23rd chapter of 2nd Kings. I told him what I had done, and my reason. "I take the whole responsibility upon myself," I wrote. "No man in the place had anything to do with it but me. I acted as I did for the sake of our old friendship, and you will believe it was no easy task for me. I hope you will understand. Whenever you

are able to see me send me word, and I will come back and settle with you. But I think

you will realise that I have saved your soul."

The afternoon was merging into twilight as I left the house on the road to Taqui. The great fire, where the grove had been, was still blazing fiercely, and the smoke made a cloud over the upper glen, and filled all the air with a soft violet haze. I knew that I had done well for my friend, and that he would come to his senses and be grateful. My mind was at ease on that score, and in something like comfort I faced the future. But as the car reached the ridge I looked back to the vale I had outraged. The moon was rising and silvering the smoke, and through the gaps I could see the tongues of fire. Somehow, I know not why, the lake, the stream, the garden-coverts, even the green slopes of hill, wore an air of loneliness and desecration.

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

UNIVERSITY CRICKET.- -OXFORD.

THERE were not wanting signs in the season of 1909 of a welcome regeneration in University cricket. It was high time that such a revival did take place. For honesty compels the confession that the exhibitions given at Lords in the preceding years of the game of cricket, as played by the undergraduates of Oxford and Cambridge, had been lamentably bad. And even at the outset of last season it was wellnigh impossible not to be oppressed with a nervous feeling lest at Oxford a few oneeyed horses might be disporting themselves at the expense of their purblind neighbours. For when the bowling that had been found good enough to win one 'Varsity match, and almost good enough to win another, seemed to present no terrors to a by no means unusually good freshman, the natural conclusion was that the Cambridge batting of 1907 and 1908-and in batting Cambridge distinctly held the upper hand-was of an even lower grade than it had been taken to be. Presently, however, Oxford defeated Surrey, and the supporters of Oxford were jubilant. Disclaiming any desire to throw cold water upon their jubilation, may I remind the trumpeters that only in modern years has it been deemed advisable to "water the capital" of a strong county

I.

side prior to encountering a University Eleven; that thirty or forty years ago the Oxonians were apt to regard their match against Surrey at the Oval in the light of an annual picnic ; that later on University sides were known to come to Lords not a little stale and exhausted by the process of "hammering" either Middlesex or Sussex bowling; that Yorkshire at full strength has before now gone down to Cambridge and met with its masters.

We repeat that if the University match of 1909 gave us fair ground for hope of better things in the future- for example, one man on either side was subsequently invited to represent the Gentlemen at Lords, the melancholy fact remains that for some years past both sides have been distinctly below par.

"Now, what "this is the question our parson used to put to us from the pulpit once in every month-"is the meaning of it all?"

"I don't believe as he knows hisself!" remarked a shrewd, albeit rustic churchwarden, who, like other members of the congregation, had grown not a little weary of the iteration.

Neither do we profess to know why the standard of cricket at both Oxford and Cambridge has fallen so low. But as the fact is unfortunately there, pace wise old Aristotle, let us

venture to go a little way afield in search of a reason.

Have the Universities merely struck a bad patch, or is the whole subsoil suffering under the stress of either improper or excessive cultivation?

We feel that we shall be safer in ventilating other men's theories on the causes that have contributed to the decadence of University cricket than in starting a theory of our own. The existence of the disease is undeniable, but the country practitioner is well advised who leaves the final diagnosis in the hands of abler doctors.

"Wrong teaching at school," Major Trevor seems to suggest. But can he also inform us where we are to go in search of new teachers? If Wells at Eton, Webbe at Harrow, Moberly at Clifton, Wilson at Winchester, and so forth, do not know what good cricket means, or lack the power of imparting their knowledge, then may we with all humility suggest that those gentlemen be invited to attend a course of elementary lectures on the art of playing and teaching cricket, as delivered-well, shall we say, by Miss Blimber?

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Let it be granted that in certain natures there is in this degenerate age а total lack of any feeling of esprit de corps-a marked, and what indeed, if the mischief spreads, is likely to become distinctly dangerous disinclination to sacrifice self to the good of the community, and that the comparative liberty offered by the motor - car, the lawn-tennis court with its many opportunities for intermediate conversation with a fair partner, and the golf-course, is allattractive to the gilded youth knowledge of the game who resents the discipline of originally acquired at school. games. "It's such a grind!" And a gentleman who who is we hear on

Mr Toppin, certainly a better practical exponent of the game, politely but firmly joins issue with Mr Trevor on this point, and thinks that even at this date certain great batsmen owe their present proficiency -at all events, indirectly-to

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reason that the true cricketer would be sorry to see in his model Eleven either man boy, however lovely an innings he might be capable of playing, if he were conscious at the time that the young gentleman wanted to be elsewhere, and was therefore not likely to throw his whole heart into the game.

And yet a story was rife a few years ago—we heard it in several quarters-that a certain Oxford captain, who shall be nameless, hated the very mention of cricket. Such a one, we maintain, deserved right well of his University. For For playing out of a sense of duty alone-a game which did not appeal to him, even though he had attained to no mean standard of proficiency in it, he never gave those who watched him reason to suspect that he "disliked the job."

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It is on the cards, we admit, that, possibly not so much at the public schools, but in an even earlier stage of the young

cricketer's training, not merely is the discipline of games too rigidly enforced, but there is, furthermore, a tendency to discourage anything or everything that may savour of originality.

And we are 80

far in a line with Major Trevor on one point, as to allow that certain strokes made by certain great players, and the whole style adopted by one popular favourite, are not only out of harmony with the traditions alike of the ancients and of teachers, but twenty years ago would have been regarded as criminal.

There are yet again wiseacres who are not chary of informing us that cricket elsewhere has progressed by leaps and bounds, while cricket at the Universities, essentially conservative in their prejudices, has merely stood still, -in other words, that the boys' cricket is no no worse than it used to be, but that the standard of cricket generally is higher. We venture to disagree with this idea in toto. It is a difficult matter in most cases to find a really reliable line whereby to regulate comparison between things as they are to-day and things as they were twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. Fortunately in the matter of first-class cricket the line-not indeed a line that answers

Euclid's definition, "length without breadth". is all ready to hand in the person of the genial and evergreen W. G. Grace. Judging by his performances it is pretty easy to decide that the standard of first-class cricket had

not appreciated in the thirty years between '65 and '95. The weight of years is bound to tell its tale even on the hardiest of mankind; and if W. G. in his forty-seventh year was still to be accounted as among the foremost active exponents of the game, which in the early part of his career he had more or less dominated, it is absurd to tell us that in those thirty years cricket had progressed by leaps and bounds. But look at the average columns, some one will say. Grace in his best year never made so many runs as Ranji did in one season, or had so high an average as Fry had in another! The answer to this suggestion is that wickets throughout the length and breadth of England have improved beyond recognition, and that the general introduction of boundaries and other comparatively modern innovations has worked in favour of the batsman. Under the old conditions, which prevailed when Grace was in his prime, better bowlers than any that going to-day reckoned that they had found a cheap bargain in the "champion if they succeeded in getting rid of him twice over in a match before he had added a hundred runs to the score of his side. Had he been born some twenty or thirty years later, our modern bowlers on an up-to-date wicket might have found a difficulty in disposing of him twice in the course of a season. Again, has English cricket improved within the last fifteen years? If so, either the late

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Selection Committee signally failed to do its duty in 1909, or the Australian Eleven, which it is still the pleasure of so many writers to disparage, was unusually strong.

Also, Mr Maclaren, who fairly reached the top of the tree in 1894, was selected in 1909 to captain our Test-Match Elevens.

And now to return for a moment to Major Trevor and the modern school of stroke players. Is it not a simple case of autres temps, autres mœurs? The new model wicket has been responsible for the evolution of new strokes, many of them more effective than graceful. The batsman-be his name Ranjitsinhji or Bosanquet, or "Noakes or Stokes or Stiles or Brown or Thompson" - who walked to the old Lords wicket some thirty or forty years ago, with the serious intention of "gliding" either Tarrant or George Freeman, or of hooking either J. C. Shaw Powys, would have been well advised to have had an ambulance in attendance, ready to convey him to the nearest hospital, or, more fitting place still, to Hanwell.

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English cricket has not improved: the school teaching is of no mean order of merit: indolence is not universal. And yet the standard of cricket at the Universities is distinctly lower now than it was thirty or forty years ago. What then? Shall we fall back upon the bad-patch theory, or shall we say that the whole course of nature is altered—that in these days, when men are "so strong that they come to four-score

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