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Archibald’s Benefit
by [?]

Archibald Mealing was one of those golfers in whom desire outruns performance. Nobody could have been more willing than Archibald. He tried, and tried hard. Every morning before he took his bath he would stand in front of his mirror and practise swings. Every night before he went to bed he would read the golden words of some master on the subject of putting, driving, or approaching. Yet on the links most of his time was spent in retrieving lost balls or replacing America. Whether it was that Archibald pressed too much or pressed too little, whether it was that his club deviated from the dotted line which joined the two points A and B in the illustrated plate of the man making the brassy shot in the Hints on Golf book, or whether it was that he was pursued by some malignant fate, I do not know. Archibald rather favoured the last theory.

The important point is that, in his thirty-first year, after six seasons of untiring effort, Archibald went in for a championship, and won it.

Archibald, mark you, whose golf was a kind of blend of hockey, Swedish drill, and buck-and-wing dancing.

I know the ordeal I must face when I make such a statement. I see clearly before me the solid phalanx of men from Missouri, some urging me to tell it to the King of Denmark, others insisting that I produce my Eskimos. Nevertheless, I do not shrink. I state once more that in his thirty-first year Archibald Mealing went in for a golf championship, and won it.

* * * * *

Archibald belonged to a select little golf club, the members of which lived and worked in New York, but played in Jersey. Men of substance, financially as well as physically, they had combined their superfluous cash and with it purchased a strip of land close to the sea. This land had been drained–to the huge discomfort of a colony of mosquitoes which had come to look on the place as their private property–and converted into links, which had become a sort of refuge for incompetent golfers. The members of the Cape Pleasant Club were easygoing refugees from other and more exacting clubs, men who pottered rather than raced round the links; men, in short, who had grown tired of having to stop their game and stand aside in order to allow perspiring experts to whiz past them. The Cape Pleasant golfers did not make themselves slaves to the game. Their language, when they foozled, was gently regretful rather than sulphurous. The moment in the day’s play which they enjoyed most was when they were saying: ‘Well, here’s luck!’ in the club-house.

It will, therefore, be readily understood that Archibald’s inability to do a hole in single figures did not handicap him at Cape Pleasant as it might have done at St. Andrews. His kindly clubmates took him to their bosoms to a man, and looked on him as a brother. Archibald’s was one of those admirable natures which prompt their possessor frequently to remark: ‘These are on me!’ and his fellow golfers were not slow to appreciate the fact. They all loved Archibald.

Archibald was on the floor of his bedroom one afternoon, picking up the fragments of his mirror–a friend had advised him to practise the Walter J. Travis lofting shot–when the telephone bell rang. He took up the receiver, and was hailed by the comfortable voice of McCay, the club secretary.

‘Is that Mealing?’ asked McCay. ‘Say, Archie, I’m putting your name down for our championship competition. That’s right, isn’t it?’

‘Sure,’ said Archibald. ‘When does it start?’

‘Next Saturday.’

‘That’s me.’

‘Good for you. Oh, Archie.’

‘Hello?’

‘A man I met today told me you were engaged. Is that a fact?’