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A short story by A. A. Milne

Ten And Eight

Title:     Ten And Eight
Author: A. A. Milne [More Titles by Milne]

The only event of importance last week was my victory over Henry by ten and eight. If you don't want to hear about that, then I shall have to pass on to you a few facts about his motor bicycle. You'd rather have the other? I thought so.

The difference between Henry and me is that he is what I should call a good golfer, and I am what everybody else calls a bad golfer. In consequence of this he insults me with offers of bisques.

"I'll have ten this time," I said, as we walked to the tee.

"Better have twelve. I beat you with eleven yesterday."

"Thank you," I said haughtily, "I will have ten." It is true that he beat me last time, but then owing to bad management on my part I had nine bisques left at the moment of defeat simply eating their heads off.

Henry teed up and drove a "Pink Spot" out of sight. Henry swears by the "Pink Spot" if there is anything of a wind. I use either a "Quo Vadis," which is splendid for going out of bounds, or an "Ostrich," which has a wonderful way of burying itself in the sand. I followed him to the green at my leisure.

"Five," said Henry.

"Seven," said I; "and if I take three bisques it's my hole."

"You must only take one at a time," protested Henry.

"Why? There's nothing in Wisden or Baedeker about it. Besides, I will only take one at a time if it makes it easier for you. I take one and that brings me down to six, and then another one and that brings me down to five, and then another one and that brings me down to four. There! And as you did the hole in five, I win."

"Well, of course, if you like to waste them all at the start--"

"I'm not wasting them, I'm creating a moral effect. Behold, I have won the first hole; let us be photographed together."

Henry went to the next tee slightly ruffled and topped his ball into the road. I had kept mine well this side of it and won in four to five.

"I shan't take any bisques here," I said. "Two up."

At the third tee my "Quo Vadis" darted off suddenly to the left and tried to climb the hill. I headed it off and gave it a nasty dent from behind when it wasn't looking, and with my next shot started it rolling down the mountains with ever-increasing velocity. Not until it was within a foot of the pin did it condescend to stop. Henry, who had reached the green with his drive and had taken one putt too many, halved the hole in four. I took a bisque and was three up.

The fourth hole was prettily played by both of us, and with two bisques I had it absolutely stiff. Unnerved by this Henry went all out at the fifth and tried to carry the stream in two. Unfortunately (I mean unfortunately for him) the stream was six inches too broad in the particular place at which he tried to carry it. My own view is that he should either have chosen another place or else have got a narrower stream from somewhere. As it was I won in an uneventful six, and took with a bisque the short hole which followed.

"Six up," I pointed out to Henry, "and three bisques left. They're jolly little things, bisques, but you want to use them quickly. Bisque dat qui cito dat. Doesn't the sea look ripping to-day?"

"Go on," growled Henry.

"I once did a two at this hole," I said as I teed my ball. "If I did a two now and took a bisque, you'd have to do it in nothing in order to win. A solemn thought."

At this hole you have to drive over a chasm in the cliffs. My ball made a bee line for the beach, bounced on a rock, and disappeared into a cave. Henry's "Pink Spot," which really seemed to have a chance of winning a hole at last, found the wind too much for it and followed me below.

"I'm in this cave," I said when we had found Henry's ball; and with a lighted match in one hand and a niblick in the other I went in and tried to persuade the "Ostrich" to come out. My eighth argument was too much for it, and we re-appeared in the daylight together.

"How many?" I asked Henry.

"Six," he said, as he hit the top of the cliff once more, and shot back on to the beach.

I left him and chivied my ball round to where the cliffs are lowest; then I got it gradually on to a little mound of sand (very delicate work this), took a terrific swing and fairly heaved it on to the grass. Two more strokes put me on to the green in twenty. I lit a pipe and waited for Henry to finish his game of rackets.

"I've played twenty-five," he shouted.

"Then you'll want some of my bisques," I said. "I can lend you three till Monday."

Henry had one more rally and then picked his ball up. I had won seven holes and I had three bisques with which to win the match. I was a little doubtful if I could do this, but Henry settled the question by misjudging yet again the breadth of the stream. What is experience if it teaches us nothing? Henry must really try to enlarge his mind about rivers.

"Dormy nine," I said at the tenth tee, "and no bisques left."

"Thank Heaven for that," sighed Henry.

"But I have only to halve one hole out of nine," I pointed out. "Technically I am on what is known as velvet."

"Oh, shut up and drive."

I am a bad golfer, but even bad golfers do holes in bogey now and then. In the ordinary way I was pretty certain to halve one of the nine holes with Henry, and so win the match. Both the eleventh and the seventeenth, for instance, are favourites of mine. Had I halved one of those, he would have admitted cheerfully that I had played good golf and beaten him fairly. But as things happened--

What happened, put quite briefly, was this. Bogey for the tenth is four. I hooked my drive off the tee and down a little gully to the left, put a good iron shot into a bunker on the right, and than ran down a hundred-yard putt with a niblick for a three. One of those difficult down-hill putts.

"Luck!" said Henry, as soon as he could speak.

"I've been missing those lately," I said.

"Your match," said Henry; "I can't play against luck like that."

It was true that he had given me ten bisques, but, on the other hand, I could have given him a dozen at the seventh and still have beaten him.

However, I was too magnanimous to point that out. All I said was, "Ten and eight."

And then I added thoughtfully, "I don't think I've ever won by more than that."

[The end]
A. A. Milne's short story: Ten And Eight