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A short story by George V. Hobart

You Should Worry About Auction Bridge

Title:     You Should Worry About Auction Bridge
Author: George V. Hobart [More Titles by Hobart]

Receiving letters which I promptly forget to answer is a hobby with me. The disease must be hereditary--possibly from my grandfather, who was a village postmaster. He used to get a lot of letters he never answered. (Man the life-line, lads; we'll get him ashore yet!)

Well, here's one I am going to answer.

It's a bit of literature that reached me a day or two ago, chaperoned by a two-cent stamp and a hunk of pale green sealing-wax.

Philadelphia, Lately.

Dear John:--I have never met you personally, but I've heard my brother, Teddy, speak of you so often that you really seem to be one of the family.

(Teddy talks slang something fierce.)

Dear John, will you please pardon the liberty I take in grabbing a two-cent stamp and jumping so unceremoniously at one who is, after all, a perfect stranger?

Dear John, if you look around you can see on every hand that the glad season of the year is nearly here, and if you listen attentively you may hear the hoarse cry of the summer resort beckoning us to that bourne from which no traveler returns without getting his pocketbook dislocated.

Dear John, could you please tell me how to play auction bridge, so that when I go to the seashore I will be armed for defraying expenses?

Dear John, I am sure that if I could play auction bridge loud enough to win four dollars every once in a while I could spend a large bunch of the summer at the seashore.

Dear John, would you tell a loving but perfect stranger how to play the game without having to wear a mask?

Dear John, I played a couple of games recently with a wide-faced young man who grew very playful and threw the parlor furniture at me because I trumpeted his ace. I fancy I must have did wrong. The fifth time I trumpeted his ace the young man arose, put on his gum shoes, and skeedaddled out of the house. Is it not considered a breach of etiquette to put on gum shoes in the presence of a lady?

If you please, dear John, tell me how to play auction bridge.

Yours fondly,

P. S. The furniture which he threw was not his property to dispose of.
G. J.

When friend wife got a flash of this letter she made a kick to the effect that it was some kind of a cypher, possibly the beginning of a secret correspondence.

It was up to me to hand Gladys the frosty get-back, so this is what I said:

Respected Madam:--I'm a slob on that auction bridge thing, plain poker being the only game with cards that ever coaxes my dough from the stocking, but I'll do the advice gag if it chokes me:

Auction bridge is played with cards, just like pinochle, with the exception of the beer.

Not enough cards is a misdeal; too many cards is a mistake; and cards up the sleeve is a slap on the front piazza, if they catch you at it.

When bidding don't get excited and think you're attending an auction of shirt-waists at a fire-sale. It distresses your partner terribly to hear you say, "I'll bid two dollars!" when what you meant was two spades. Much better it is that you smile across the table at him and say, "I bid you good evening!"

You shouldn't get up and dance the Kitchen Sink dance every time you take a trick. It looks more genteel and picturesque to do the Castle Walk.

When your opponent has not followed suit it is not wise to pick out a loud tone of voice and tell him about it. Reach under the table and kick him on the shins. If it hurts him he is a cheater; if it doesn't hurt him always remember that you are a lady.

When you are dummy the new rules permit you to call a revoke. When you see your partner messing up a sure "going-outer" you may also call the police; then get out your calling cards and call your partner down, being, of course, particular and ladylike in your selection of adjectives.

Don't forget what is trumps more than eighteen times during one hand. The limit used to be twenty-six times, but since the outbreak of the Mexican war the best auction bridge authorities have put the limit down to eighteen.

It isn't wise to have a conniption fit every time you lose a trick. Nothing looks so bad as a conniption fit when it doesn't match the complexion, and generally it delays the game.

When your partner has doubled a no-trump call and you forget to lead his suit the best plan is to hurry out the front door, take a street car to the end of the line; then double back in a taxi to the nearest railway station; get the first train going West and go the limit--then take a steamer, sail for Japan and don't come back for seven years. Your partner may forget about it in that time. If he doesn't, then you must continue to live in Japan. All authorities agree on this point.

When the game is close, don't get excited and climb up on the table. It shows a want of refinement, especially if you are not a quick climber.

While running a grand slam to cover, the best authorities, including Bob Carter, claim that you should breathe hoarsely through the front teeth, pausing from time to time to recite brief passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Never whistle while waiting for someone to play. Whistling is not in good taste. Go over and bite out a couple of tunes on the piano.

When your opponent trumps an ace don't ever hit him carelessly across the forehead with the bric-a-brac. Always remember when you are in Society that bric-a-brac is expensive.

If your partner bids five spades and you get the impression that he is balmy in the bean don't show it in your face. Such authorities as Fred Perry and Dick Ling claim that the proper thing to do is to arise gracefully from your chair and sing something plaintive, in minor chords. This generally brings your partner back to earth, because nine times out of ten he is only temporarily crazy with the heat.

Don't lead the ten of clubs by mistake for the ace of trumps and then get mad and jump seventeen feet in the air because they refuse to let you pull it back.

In order to jump seventeen feet in the air you would have to go through the room upstairs, and how do you know whose room it is?

There, Gladys, if you follow these rules I think you can play the game of auction bridge without putting a bruise on the law regulating the income tax.

P. S. When you play for money always bite the coin to see if it means as much as it looks.

I hope Gladys wasn't offended.

She hasn't sent me even a postal card containing thanks and a view of Chestnut Street.

[The end]
George V. Hobart's short story: You Should Worry About Auction Bridge