Frank Sidgwick is back, with a curious competition about punctuation and meaning. He imagines an eminent general dictating ‘It was the hardest day’s fighting I have ever known,’ and his secretary sending it to press, only for a printer’s reader to question the apostrophe, and for there to be a subsequent discussion between Secretary, Reader, General, Editor, Sub-editor etc.
The entries don’t really impress Sidgwick, since, he observes, no competitor has considered what was in the General’s mind. Sidgwick contends that we use ‘one of the’ to indicate a reservation, i.e. he’d had much harder days. Nor did anyone debate whether day was the substantive qualified by fighting or the other way round. (He asks, ‘Is a month’s holiday a holiday of a month or a month of holiday?’)
The report is quite short, with some reference to hyphens (it’s pretty obscure), and the second prize is withheld. Only Guy Innes gets through, commended for his realism.
At the Indignation Meeting of Animals to Protest Against the Use of their Names in Derogatory Metaphor by Humans, a lead was given by the city representatives – the Bear, the Bull, the Stag and the Guinea-Pig [how did the Guinea-Pig get in there?] Sidgwick wants the names of the other twelve protestants with (very short) reasons why they were protesting. 24 competitors submitted 282 animals (in 67 species) from Elephants to Nits. In order of occurrence: Pig (17), Cat and Dog (16 each), Ass (15), Rabbit (14), Rat (13), Goat (12), Fox and Sheep equal (10), Skunk and Elephant equal (7). There was one Beetle, and no Lobster (why would there be?). (Sidgwick adds that Lizard must be the latest addition to the list.)
Sidgwick admits to being bored reading repeatedly that Cats were tired of being tokens of mean and vindictive women. An entrant called Sedulous Ape is ticked off for writing 300 words where Sidgwick had asked for abbreviated reasons. Others abbreviated so much that they were incomprehensible. However, H.C.M. and Pibwob made it past the scrutineer: