Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (16)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 16

Sees this young lady piling up 200 breaks in a calm, methodical manner, the humiliation of man is complete. She does not miscue once out of two shots; she never tears the cloth. She does not scream with delight when a ball falls into a pocket, nor does she break the lamps with the point of the cue, explaining how the shot was done. - MISS RUBY ROBERTS. (1913, May 22). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 15. Available at:, courtesy of Alcocks Billiard Table Manufacturers (

Tuesday Dec 19. Next morning after breakfast Mrs R and I went for a walk round the garden. Mr Gray had a great variety of Orchids growing in lush houses and some of them were beauties. After we had explored the garden we decided to walk along the road. We had not gone very far from the bungalow. We were busy talking, when suddenly Mrs R said, what is that coming along the road. It was some distance away and we watched it, until we saw it was a huge baboon when we took to our heels. Fortunately, we were not far from the bangalow but we were breathless when we reached there and Mr Gray asked what was the matter.

Bungalow in Brahrang
Bungalow in Brahrang, Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We told him that we had been chased by a huge monkey and he laughed and said there were a lot of monkeys about the district and were quite harmless. He was on his way to the tobacco sheds and asked us if we would like to go with him. We walked through the grounds and had just reached the sheds when we saw the monkey in the garden. He yelled to the boys to bring his gun. In the meantime the brute had climbed one of the trees but Mr Gray fired at it and must have hit it for it let out a dreadful cry but owing to the branches, it was hard to get a clear view. Mr Gray fired again and he must have hit it again as it fell but it got caught on one of the branches and hung there for a few seconds until the weight broke the branch and it fell to the ground. In the meantime, the “boys” from the house had run out to see what was going on, so Mr Gray ordered them to bring the brute over on to the lawn. When he saw it, he said he had been trying to get it for months. It was a dangerous brute and had done a lot of damage. It had got into his bungalow and ripped up his furniture. He told us that some of the coolies had kept it in captivity and he had ordered it to be shot. The natives had promised to do so but had not done so. When Mr Gray realised this was the monkey that had chased us he was quite serious and said we had had a narrow escape. He thought we had meant one of the monkeys that sit in the trees and yabber and make faces at you but I knew they were harmless and liked watching them.

There was one used to sit in a tree outside my balcony and it used to run up the cocoanut tree nearby and throw cocoanuts at the “boys”. I was vastly amused one day watching them. The ”boys” would throw the cocoanut at the monkey (of course not to hit him) and he would get so excited and break off the cocoanut and throw them back at the ”boys”. The latter were very cunning as it saved them the trouble of climbing the trees themselves. They are very expert at doing this and I saw quite a number of them do it. Also growing outside my balcony was a durian tree and it was covered with fruit. I did not recognise it as I had never seen one growing before. I used to hear a sort of dull thud every now and again and I had noticed that the natives were always hanging about so I asked Mr Gray and he told me that when the fruit ripen they fall off the trees and as they are like the pineapple they made a noise hitting the ground. As Mr Gray did not like the fruit he had given permission that the boys could have them on the understanding that they did not cut them anywhere near the bungalow because as I had mentioned before the smell was dreadful but the boys were very keen on them, hence they were always waiting for one to drop. About 4pm we went across to the tennis court. Mr Marshall brought out deck chairs and we sat and watched the men playing.

We had dinner early as I had to play at Medan that night. Mr Maclean drove us in his car, Medan being 20 miles run. It was a glorious night being almost as bright as day. The trees were growing on each side of the road and it was a lovely sight to see, the fire flies flitting about and the moon shining through the trees. I was quite sorry when we reached our destination. We passed through a small village called Bindgiz and arrived at Medan Hotel at 9pm. Mr Maclean had two chauffers dressed in green livery and everyone seemed to know him. He was quite an influential personage so everywhere we went we received a great deal of attention.

Medan Hotel, Leiden University
Medan Hotel, Leiden University via Wikimedia Commons

They had erected a special table in the Concert Hall at Medan Hotel. It was decorated all round with ferns and pot plants and pretty little lamps also a beautiful chandelier over the table with dozens of pretty little lights. Of course it looked lively but was not conducive to good play as the light should be shaded and only over the table. Anyhow I had to make the best of it. They had gone to a great deal of trouble. Everyone was dressed in white. I met a great number of people and after the game which I won in spite of the light, a large party entertained me at supper. They all came to see us off. On the way home it commenced to rain so we had to have the hood up. I went to sleep on the return journey as I was tired out. We arrived home about 2am but we had a delightful evening.

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