Correspondence between Mr. Roger Horlick of the Board of Governors of the Happy Knoll Country Club and Mr. Albert Magill, president emeritus, regarding a Saturday afternoon incident in the men's bar:
I am writing to you today on behalf of the Board of Governors of the Happy Knoll Country Club to enlist your advice on a problem of discipline that confronts us. You will probably have guessed already that I am referring to the physical collision which occurred between two of our members, Mr. Oscar J. Beight and Mr. George Plankton, in the men's bar last Saturday at the end of a card-playing afternoon. Bridge, as you have often said, more frequently than not arouses ill feelings when the players begin reviewing intonations of the bidding at the bar. It is true from what we gather that Mr. Beight and Mr. Plankton had been partners in a disastrous rubber, but their argument in the bar concerned golf and seemingly ended on an ideological note. I have learned that Mr. Beight, whom I have never met personally, customarily refers to himself as a Jeffersonian Fair Dealer. Whereas George Plankton, as we all know, is the president of the Plankton Bushing and Wire Company and has just returned from Washington where he had attended some sort of Senate investigation. This will explain the existence of strained nerves and tension, but I know what you are going to say.
You are going to say, why should the Happy Knoll Board of Governors project itself into an immature dispute? These are times, you are going to say, of high spirits and frayed patiences, especially with the hesitation that is now occurring in the stock market. You will also add that there have been other crises at Happy Knoll, in the men's bar and elsewhere, that have been solved without resort to official action. We have not yet forgotten at one of the Saturday dances only last summer that the Jeffers boy bit the Henty boy's ear, and then of course there was the scratching in the ladies' locker room after the August Four Ball. You might very well say that forgive and forget has ever been a motto at Happy Knoll.
I only hope we can apply it in the present case, and as a move in that direction I have questioned a number of people who were in the bar last Saturday, including Old Ned, who says it was his fault, that he just did not get moving fast enough. Both the members, he says, were gentlemen to the end, but he also adds that boys will be boys and girls will be girls at the end of a rainy Saturday. I wish we could leave it all on this note, but unfortunately both Mr. Plankton and Mr. Beight have submitted letters of complaint. They have been asked to withdraw these letters and they have both refused. We hope very much that you will advise us in this matter and thus for your information I am sending you both the Beight and Plankton letters. As you might expect, they run to cross purposes, but each has its own appeal.
(Letter from Mr. Oscar J. Beight to the Board of Governors of the Happy Knoll Country Club.)
I hope it is needless to say that I have learned with regret that a contretemps which occurred between myself and a fellow member of the Happy Knoll Country Club, Mr. George Plankton, has already become common property in this community and is approaching the dimensions of scandal. Feeling myself in no wise to blame for this state of affairs and being a married man and the father of two small children, I am sending this letter as an explanation but not as an apology. I realize, of course, that Happy Knoll purports to be a democracy and may be so in certain respects, but in a democracy a divergence of opinion should be permitted without a resort to fisticuffs and abusive language. Though a comparatively recent member and one who is not known to any of you gentlemen, I maintain that I still have a right to a courteous expression of opinion in the bar of the Happy Knoll Country Club, or anywhere else, nor do I believe I am of a quarrelsome or contentious disposition.
It is said that my dispute with Mr. Plankton arose over a game of bridge. This is not the case, although Mr. Plankton and I met at the bridge table. Frankly, being a somewhat recent member, I have never joined in a Saturday bridge game at your club and should not have on this occasion if I had not returned home from Washington that morning to find that Mrs. Beight and the children had gone to spend the day with her mother. Consequently, I went to the club for a sandwich and later entered the card room by accident. I must say that I was treated cordially and Mr. Plankton asked if he had not seen me in Washington the day before. I answered that he had, in Committee Room 213, where I had gone on the invitation of the committee's lawyer. Mr. Plankton made some remark that it was not a committee hearing but a star-chamber procedure.
"They as good as put a midget on my knee," he said. "How would you like to play some bridge?"