Friday, June 14, 2013

Keble Howard Pan Daddies in Two Ages

Keble Howard (1875-1928), pseudonym of John Keble Bell, was an English novelist, playwright, and editor.  He also wrote a number of genial short stories; but I haven't found any short, crisp comic articles by him, apart from the following humorous pair of dialogues that he wrote for Pan, which show Keble Howard venturing into P.G. Wodehouse territory.

(December 20, 1919  Pan Vol 1, No. 7)

Daddies in Two Ages
By Keble Howard


Father:  Sit down, Sophia.
Sophia: Yes, father.
Father:  And don't sniff.
Sophia: No, father.
Father:  I am going to speak to you about your marriage.
Sophia: My – my marriage, father?
Father:  Yes.  You're not deaf, I hope?
Sophia: No, father.
Father:  Glad to hear it.  Mr. Goldthorpe won't care much about you if you're deaf.
Sophia: Mr. Goldthorpe, father?
Father:  Certainly.  You needn't pretend to be surprised.  You know perfectly well that he came to see me last evening.
Sophia:  But not about – ?  Not about – ?
Father: Yes, about you.  Now look here, Sophia.  I'm not a man to beat around the bush.  You know that.  Mr. Goldthorpe has done you the honour to ask for your hand.  There is no man living for whom I have more esteem, and I may tell you that you are an exceedingly fortunate girl.  He may be a little older than yourself – some twenty or thirty years, perhaps – but that is all to the good.  He has steadied down.  Don't sniff.
Sophia:  I wasn't sniffing, father.
Father:  Well, you were looking moist about the face, and I don't like it.  A girl of your age ought to be excited at the prospect of such a marriage.  I know I should be.
Sophia:  Would you like to marry Mr. Goldthorpe, father?
Father:  That is an absurd question.  Mr. Goldthorpe has expressed no desire to marry me.  If I were a girl of twenty –
Sophia:  Yes, father?  And if you – if you cared for someone else – ?
Father:  Ah, I wondered if we should come to that.  Now, look here, Sophia.  I watched you the other evening when you were dancing the polka-mazurka with young Proudfoot.  I observe that you blush at the recollection, and well you might.  In the first place, it is a very un-English dance – Polish, I understand – and should never have been introduced to this country.  In the second place, I distinctly saw young Proudfoot speak to you in the middle of the fourth round.  Can you deny it?
Sophia:  No, father.  He said it was a nice floor.
Father:  Oh, he did, did he?  Well, that was very forward of him – almost suggestive.  I don't approve of that sort of talk, and I don't approve of young Proudfoot.  He has no money, and has been seen drinking a glass of ale after hunting.  So you will oblige me by never seeing or referring to him again....  Don't sniff!  You are sniffing!  Run away!  This comes of your mother being so indulgent.... 


Daddy:  Can you spare me a moment, my dear?
Billie:  Right-ho, old thing.
Daddy:  Shut the door and sit down a moment.
Billie:  Lord!  Not going to be stuffy, are you, old chap?
Daddy:  I hope not.  But I want a word with you on a rather important matter.
Billie:  Where d'you feel it worst?  On the chest?
Daddy:  Just try to be serious for a few minutes.  Marriage is a pretty serious business, I don't mind telling you.
Billie:  Used to be, you mean.  We've changed all that.
Daddy:  You can't change a husband very easily.
Billie:  Oh, can't you?  I'll jolly soon change mine if he isn't up to the sample.  By the way, dad, have you spotted anything good?
Daddy:  I think you've done that yourself, haven't you?
Billie:  I've got one or two in training, but I don't know that there's a favourite.
Daddy:  Let me give you a bit of advice, Billie.  Time was when parents insisted on their daughters marrying money, but your mother and I are not so narrow-minded as that.  We want you to be happy, and no married life can be happy without love.
Billie:  You've been to the movies, dad.  Let's get right to the last episode.  Into which pair of strong arms do I eventually sink?
Daddy:  Well, we've both noticed that you hit it off very well with Dick Proudfoot.  He's a fine young chap; did magnificently in the War, and just the sort of husband –
Billie:  My dear, kind, good, funny old dad!  Dicky's all right for light work, but he'd never stay the course.  'Sides, I might get too soft about him.
Daddy:  This is a very modern point of view!
Billie:  Well, that's what I am.  The sentimental line is good enough to tickle up the salad if you know how to use it sparingly, but it won't keep the home fires burning.  Hope mixed metaphors don't go to your head.  I'm going in for old Goldthorpe if I can land him.
Daddy:  Goldthorpe?  Why he's my age!
Billie:  And a very nice age, too.  Think what a steady hand he'll have for signing cheques.
Daddy:  And what about poor Dicky?  Don't you care if you break his heart?
Billie:  Oh, daddy, my darling, forgive my unseemly levity!  Don't you know that Dicky's heart was born broken?  It's a reg'lar kaleidoscope of a heart!  You only have to get him in the right light and turn him round....  Cheery, cheery, dad. 


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