Fair was the porridge in the days of peace,
And still more fair the cream and sugar taken;
Plump were the twin poached eggs, yet not obese,
Upon their thrones of toast, and crisp the bacon—
I face their loss undaunted, unafraid,
If only I may keep my Marmalade.
An evening press without Callisthenes;
A tables Staff; an immobile spaghetti;
A Shaw with whom the Common Man agrees;
A Zambra searching vainly for Negretti;
When spades are trumps, a hand without a spade—
So is my breakfast lacking Marmalade.
O Northcliffe (Lord)! O Keiller! O Dundee!
O Crosse and Blackwell, Limited! O Seville!
O orange groves along the Middle Sea!
(O Jaffa, for example) O the devil—
Let Beef and Butter, Rolls and Rabbits fade,
But give me back my love, my Marmalade.
THE STORY THAT WENT WEST
“Why don’t you write a war story?” said Celia one autumn day when that sort of story was popular.
“Because everybody else does,” I said. “I forget how many bayonets we have on the Western Front, but there must be at least twice as many fountain-pens.”
“It needn’t be about the Western Front.”
“Unfortunately that’s the only front I know anything about.”
“I thought writers used their imagination sometimes,” said Celia to anybody who might happen to be listening.
“Oh, well, if you put it like that,” I said, “I suppose I must.”
So I settled down to a story about the Salonica Front.
The scene of my story was laid in an old clay hut amid the wattles.
“What are wattles?” asked Celia, when I told her the good news.
“Local colour,” I explained. “They grow in Bulgaria.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure that these ones did; I don’t know about any others.”
Of course more local colour was wanted than a mere wattle or two. It was necessary therefore for my Bulgarians always to go about in comitadjis. Celia thought that these were a kind of native trouser laced at the knee. She may be right. My own impression is that they are a species of platoon. Anyhow the Bulgars always went about in them.
There was a fierce fight which raged round the old clay hut in the wattles. The Greeks shouted “[Greek: Tupto tuptomai]” The Serbs, for reasons into which I need not enter, were inarticulate with rage. With the French and British I had, of course, no difficulty, and the Bulgars (fortunately) were content with hoarse guttural noises. It was a fierce fight while it lasted, and I was sorry when it was over, because for the first time I began to feel at home with my story. I need not say that many a Bulgar had licked the wattles before I had finished.
Unfortunately something else happened before I had finished.
“What do you think?” cried Celia, bursting into my room one evening, just when I was wondering whether my readers would expect to know more of the heroine’s native costume than that it was “simple yet becoming.”