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213 Works of A. A. Milne

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Dressing Up

Story type: Literature

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“Then you really are coming?” said Queen Elizabeth. “Yes, I really am,” I sighed. “What as?” “I don’t know at all–something with a cold. I leave it to you, partner, only don’t go a black suit.” “What about Richelieu?” “I should never be able to pronounce that,” I confessed. “Besides, I always think that these […]

The Complete Kitchen

Story type: Literature

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I sat in the drawing-room after dinner with my knees together and my hands in my lap, and waited for the game to be explained to me. “There’s a pencil for you,” said somebody. “Thank you very much,” I said and put it carefully away. Evidently I had won a forfeit already. It wasn’t a […]

An Informal Evening

Story type: Literature

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Dinner was a very quiet affair. Not a soul drew my chair away from under me as I sat down, and during the meal nobody threw bread about. We talked gently of art and politics and things; and when the ladies left there was no booby trap waiting for them at the door. In a […]

"Fair Mistress Dorothy"

Story type: Literature

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[~Note.~– There are only six plots allowed to us who are not professionals. Here they are. When you have read them, then you will know all about amateur theatricals. ] The scene is an apartment in the mansion of Sir Thomas Farthingale. There is no need to describe the furniture in it, as rehearsals will […]

"The Literary Life"

Story type: Literature

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The Scene is the Editor’s room in the Office of “The Lark.” Two walls of the room are completely hidden from floor to ceiling by magnificently bound books; the third wall at the back is hidden by boxes of immensely expensive cigars. The windows, of course, are in the fourth wall, which, however, need not […]

The Things That Matter

Story type: Literature

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Ronald, surveying the world from his taxi–that pleasant corner of the world, St. James’s Park–gave a sigh of happiness. The blue sky, the lawn of daffodils, the mist of green upon the trees, were but a promise of the better things which the country held for him. Beautiful as he thought the daffodils, he found […]

The First Of Spring

Story type: Literature

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There may be gardeners who can appear to be busy all the year round–doing even in the winter, their little bit under glass. But for myself I wait reverently until the 22nd of March is here. Then, Spring having officially arrived, I step out on to the lawn and summon my head-gardener. “James,” I say, […]

Chum

Story type: Literature

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It is Chum’s birthday to-morrow and I am going to buy him a little whip for a present, with a whistle at the end of it. When I next go into the country to see him I shall take it with me and explain it to him. Two day’s firmness would make him quite a […]

Physical Culture

Story type: Literature

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“Why don’t you sit up?” said Adela at dinner, suddenly prodding me in the back. Adela is old enough to take a motherly interest in my figure, and young enough to look extremely pretty while doing so. “I always stoop at meals,” I explained; “it helps the circulation. My own idea.” “But it looks so […]

Getting The Needle

Story type: Literature

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He was a pale, enthusiastic young man of the name of Simms; and he held forth to us at great length about his latest hobby. “Now I’ll just show you a little experiment,” he wound up, “one that I have never known to fail. First of all I want you to hide a needle somewhere, […]

My Secretary

Story type: Literature

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When, five years ago, I used to write long letters to Margery, for some reason or other she never wrote back. To save her face I had to answer the letters myself–a tedious business. Still, I must admit that the warmth and geniality of the replies gave me a certain standing with my friends, who […]

The Lucky Month

Story type: Literature

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“Know thyself,” said the old Greek motto. (In Greek–but this is an English book.) So I bought a little red volume called, tersely enough, Were you born in January? I was; and, reassured on this point, the author told me all about myself. For the most part he told me nothing new. “You are,” he […]

The Rescue

Story type: Literature

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William Bales–as nice a young man as ever wore a cummerbund on an esplanade–was in despair. For half-an-hour he and Miss Spratt had been sitting in silence on the pier, and it was still William’s turn to say something. Miss Spratt’s last remark had been, “Oh, Mr. Bales, you do say things!” and William felt […]

The Portuguese Cigar

Story type: Literature

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Everything promised well for my week-end with Charles. The weather was warm and sunny, I was bringing my golf clubs down with me, and I had just discovered (and meant to put into practice) an entirely new stance which made it impossible to miss the object ball. It was this that I was explaining to […]

We don’t know his real name, but we have decided to call him “Arthur” (“Sir Arthur,” I suppose he would be). He stands in bronze upon the chimney-piece, and in his right hand is a javelin; this makes him a very dangerous person. Opposite him, but behind the clock (Coward!), stands the other fellow, similarly […]

The Art Of Conversation

Story type: Literature

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“In conversation,” said somebody (I think it was my grandfather), “there should always be a give and take. The ball must be kept rolling.” If he had ever had a niece two years old, I don’t think he would have bothered. “What’s ‘at?” said Margery, pointing suddenly. “That,” I said, stroking it, “is dear uncle’s […]

Afternoon Sleep

Story type: Literature

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[“In the afternoon they came unto a landIn which it seemed always afternoon.”] I am like Napoleon in that I can go to sleep at any moment; I am unlike him (I believe) in that I am always doing so. One makes no apology for doing so on Sunday afternoon; the apology indeed should come […]

A Twice Told Tale

Story type: Literature

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“Is that you, uncle?” said a voice from the nursery, as I hung my coat up in the hall. “I’ve only got my skin on, but you can come up.” However, she was sitting up in bed with her nightgown on when I found her. “I was having my bath when you came,” she explained. […]

The Literary Art

Story type: Literature

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Margery has a passion for writing just now. I can see nothing in it myself, but if people will write I suppose you can’t stop them. “Will you just lend me your pencil?” she asked. “Remind me to give you a hundred pencils some time,” I said as I took it out, “and then you’ll […]

Father Christmas

Story type: Literature

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Outside in the street the rain fell pitilessly, but inside the Children’s Shop all was warmth and brightness. Happy young people of all ages pressed along, and I had no sooner opened the door than I was received into the eager stream of shoppers and hurried away to Fairyland. A slight block at one corner […]

Miss Middleton

Story type: Literature

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I.–TAKING A CALL “MAY I come in?” said Miss Middleton. I looked up from my book and stared at her in amazement. “Hullo,” I said. “Hullo,” said Miss Middleton doubtfully. “Are you going to have tea with me?” “That’s what I was wondering all the way up.” “It’s all ready; in fact, I’ve nearly finished. […]

Secret Papers

Story type: Essay

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The cabinet, or whatever I am to call it, has looked stolidly at me from the corner of the library for years. It is nothing more than a row of pigeon-holes in which I keep my secret papers. At least, the man who sold it to me recommended it for this purpose, dwelling lovingly as […]

Her Sock

Story type: Literature

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I When Margery was three months old I wrote a letter to her mother: Dear Madam,–If you have a copy in Class D at 1/10d. net, I shall be glad to hear from you. I am, ~The Baby’s Uncle.~ On Tuesday I got an answer by the morning post: Dear Sir,–In reply to yours: How […]

How We Play The Pianola

Story type: Literature

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[FOREWORD. Margery wishes me to publish the following correspondence, which has recently passed between us. It occurs to me that the name under which I appear in it may perhaps need explanation. I hate explanations, but here it is. When Margery was eight months old, she was taught to call me “Uncle.” I must suppose […]

The Actor

Story type: Literature

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Mr Levinski, the famous actor-manager, dragged himself from beneath the car, took the snow out of his mouth, and swore heartily. Mortal men are liable to motor accidents; even kings’ cars have backfired; but it seems strange that actor-managers are not specially exempt from these occurrences. Mr Levinski was not only angry; he was also […]

The most important article of furniture in any room is the fireplace. For half the year we sit round it, warming ourselves at its heat; for the other half of the year we continue to sit round it, moved thereto by habit and the position of the chairs. Yet how many people choose their house […]

Margery

Story type: Literature

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I.–A TWICE TOLD TALE “Is that you, uncle?” said a voice from the nursery, as I hung my coat up in the hall. “I’ve only got my skin on, but you can come up.” However, she was sitting up in bed with her nightgown on when I found her. “I was having my bath when […]

Betty, The Hotel Child

Story type: Literature

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I WAS in the lounge when I made her acquaintance, enjoying a pipe after tea, and perhaps–I don’t know–closing my eyes now and then. “Would you like to see my shells?” she asked suddenly. I woke up and looked at her. She was about seven years old, pretty, dark, and very much at ease. “I […]

A Digression

Story type: Essay

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My omnibus left the broad and easy way which leads to Victoria Station and plunged into the strait and narrow paths which land you into the river at Vauxhall if you aren’t careful, and I peered over the back to have another look at its number. The road-mending season is in full swing now, but […]

“May I look at my watch?” I asked my partner, breaking a silence which had lasted from the beginning of the waltz. “Oh, HAVE you got a watch?” she drawled. “How exciting!” “I wasn’t going to show it to you,” I said, “But I always think it looks so bad for a man to remove […]

The Solicitor

Story type: Literature

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The office was at its busiest, for it was Friday afternoon. John Blunt leant back in his comfortable chair and toyed with the key of the safe, while he tried to realize his new position. He, John Blunt, was junior partner in the great London firm of Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton, Macnaughton & Macnaughton! He closed […]

The Painter

Story type: Literature

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MR PAUL SAMWAYS was in a mood of deep depression. The artistic temperament is peculiarly subject to these moods, but in Paul’s case there was reason why he should take a gloomy view of things. His masterpiece, “The Shot Tower from Battersea Bridge,” together with the companion picture, “Battersea Bridge from the Shot Tower,” had […]

High Finance

Story type: Essay

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I know very little about the Stock Exchange. I know, of course, that stockbrokers wear very shiny top-hats, which they remove when they sing “God Save the King,” as they invariably do in a crisis. When they go out to lunch, the younger ones leave their top-hats behind them, and take the air with plastered […]

The Barrister

Story type: Literature

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The New Bailey was crowded with a gay and fashionable throng. It was a remarkable case of shop-lifting. Aurora Delaine, nineteen, was charged with feloniously stealing and conveying certain articles, the property of the Universal Stores, to wit thirty-five yards of bock muslin, ten pairs of gloves, a sponge, two gimlets, five jars of cold […]

The Civil Servant

Story type: Literature

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It was three o’clock, and the afternoon sun reddened the western windows of one of the busiest of Government offices. In an airy room on the third floor Richard Dale was batting. Standing in front of the coal-box with the fire-shovel in his hands, he was a model of the strenuous young Englishman; and as […]

A Chapter Of Accidents

Story type: Literature

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John walked eight miles over the cliffs to the nearest town in order to buy tobacco. He came back to the farmhouse with no tobacco and the news that he had met some friends in the town who had invited us to dinner and Bridge the next evening. “But that’s no reason why you should […]

A Haunted House

Story type: Essay

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We have been trying to hide it from each other, but the truth must now come out. Our house is haunted. Well, of course, anybody’s house might be haunted. Anybody might have a headless ghost walking about the battlements or the bath-room at midnight, and if it were no more than that, I should not […]

A Crown Of Sorrows

Story type: Literature

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There is something on my mind, of which I must relieve myself. If I am ever to face the world again with a smile I must share my trouble with others. I cannot bear my burden alone. Friends, I have lost my hat. Will the gentleman who took it by mistake, and forgot to leave […]

Napoleon At Work

Story type: Literature

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When I am in any doubt or difficulty I say to myself, “What would Napoleon have done?” The answer generally comes at once: “He would have borrowed from Henry,” or “He would have said his aunt was ill”–the one obviously right and proper thing. Then I weigh in and do it. “What station is this?” […]

A friend of mine is just going off for his holiday. He is having a longer holiday than usual this time. Instead of his customary three weeks, he is having a year, and he is going to see the world. He begins with India. Probably some of our Territorials will wonder why he wants to […]

A Cold World

Story type: Literature

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Herbert is a man who knows all about railway tickets, and packing, and being in time for trains, and things like that. But I fancy I have taught him a lesson at last. He won’t talk quite so much about tickets in future. I was just thinking about getting up when he came into my […]

The scene is a drawing-room (in which the men are allowed to smoke–or a smoking-room in which the women are allowed to draw–it doesn’t much matter) in the house of somebody or other in the country. George Turnbull and his old College friend, Henry Peterson, are confiding in each other, as old friends will, over […]

"Miss Prendergast"

Story type: Literature

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As the curtain goes up two ladies are discovered in the morning-room of Honeysuckle Lodge engaged in work of a feminine nature. Miss Alice Prendergast is doing something delicate with a crochet-hook, but it is obvious that her thoughts are far away. She sighs at intervals, and occasionally lays down her work and presses both […]

"At Dead Of Night"

Story type: Literature

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The stage is in semi-darkness as Dick Trayle throws open the window from outside, puts his knee on the sill, and falls carefully into the drawing-room of Beeste Hall. He is dressed in a knickerbocker suit with arrows on it (such as can always be borrowed from a friend), and, to judge from the noises […]

We are told that the theatre is in a bad way, that the English Drama is dead, but I suspect that every generation in its turn has been told the same thing. I have been reading some old numbers of the Theatrical Magazine of a hundred years ago. These were the palmy days of the […]

"The Lost Heiress"

Story type: Literature

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The scene is laid outside a village inn in that county of curious dialects, Loamshire. The inn is easily indicated by a round table bearing two mugs of liquid, while a fallen log emphasizes the rural nature of the scene. Gaffer Jarge and Gaffer Willyum are seated at the table, surrounded by a fringe of […]

"William Smith, Editor"

Story type: Literature

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The scene is the Editor’s room in the office of The Lark. Two walls of the room are completely hidden from floor to ceiling by magnificently-bound books: the third wall at the back is hidden by boxes of immensely expensive cigars. The windows, of course, are in the fourth wall, which, however, need not be […]

Once upon a time there was a King who had three sons. The two eldest were lazy, good-for-nothing young men, but the third son, whose name was Charming, was a delightful youth, who was loved by everybody (outside his family) who knew him. Whenever he rode through the town the people used to stop whatever […]

There died recently a gentleman named Nat Gould, twenty million copies of whose books had been sold. They were hardly ever reviewed in the literary papers; advertisements of them rarely appeared; no puffs nor photographs of the author were thrust upon one, Unostentatiously he wrote them–five in a year–and his million public was assured to […]

“IT’S a bootiful day again, Sir,” said my gardener, James, looking in at the study window. “Bootiful, James, bootiful,” I said, as I went on with my work. “You might almost say as spring was here at last, like.” “Cross your fingers quickly, James, and touch wood. Look here, I’ll be out in a minute […]

The Ordeal By Fire

Story type: Literature

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Our Flame-flower, the Family Flame-flower, is now plainly established in the north-east corner of the pergola, and flourishes exceedingly. There, or thereabouts, it will remain through the generations to come–a cascade of glory to the eye, a fountain of pride to the soul. “Our fathers’ fathers,” the unborn will say of us, “performed this thing; […]

A Summer Cold

Story type: Literature

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WHEN I am not feeling very well I go to Beatrice for sympathy and advice. Anyhow I get the advice. “I think,” I said carelessly, wishing to break it to her as gently as possible, “I think I have hay-fever.” “Nonsense,” said Beatrice. That annoyed me. Why shouldn’t I have hay-fever if I wanted to? […]

There used to be a song which affirmed (how truly, I do not know) that every nice girl loved a sailor. I am prepared to state, though I do not propose to make a song about it, that every nice man loves a detective story. This week I have been reading the last adventures of […]

A Literary Light

Story type: Literature

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ANNESLEY BUPP was born one of the Bupps of Hampshire–the Fighting Bupps, as they were called. A sudden death in the family left him destitute at the early age of thirty, and he decided to take seriously to journalism for a living. That was twelve years ago. He is now a member of the Authors’ […]

Ten And Eight

Story type: Literature

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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 […]

In the days of the last-war-but-thirty-seven, when (as you will remember) the Peers were fighting the People, Lord Curzon defended the hereditary system by telling us that it worked very well in India, where a tailor’s son invariably became a tailor. The obvious answer, if anyone bothered to give it, was that the tailor’s son, […]

Pat Ball

Story type: Literature

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“You’ll play tennis?” said my hostess absently. “That’s right. Let me introduce you to Miss–er–urn.” “Oh, we’ve met before,” smiled Miss–I’ve forgotten the name again now. “Thank you,” I said gratefully. I thought it was extremely nice of her to remember me. Probably I had spilt lemonade over her at a dance, and in some […]

The Opening Season

Story type: Literature

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“My dear,” said Jeremy, as he folded back his paper at the sporting page, “I have some news for you. Cricket is upon us once again.” “There’s a nasty cold upon Baby once again,” said Mrs Jeremy. “I hope it doesn’t mean measles.” “No child of mine would ever have measles,” said Jeremy confidently. “It’s […]

An Inland Voyage

Story type: Literature

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Thomas took a day off last Monday in order to play golf with me. For that day the Admiralty had to get along without Thomas. I tremble to think what would have happened if war had broken out on Monday. Could a Thomasless Admiralty have coped with it? I trow not. Even as it was, […]

(AS CARRIED OUT IN THE BEST END OF FLEET STREET) YULETIDE! London at Yuletide! A mantle of white lay upon the Embankment, where our story opens, gleaming and glistening as it caught the rays of the cold December sun; an embroidery of white fringed the trees; and under a canopy of white the proud palaces […]

Although our village is a very small one, we had fifteen men serving in the Forces before the war was over. Fortunately, as the Vicar well said, “we were wonderfully blessed in that none of us was called upon to make the great sacrifice.” Indeed, with the exception of Charlie Rudd, of the Army Service […]

Holiday Time

Story type: Literature

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I.–THE ORDEAL BY WATER “We will now bathe,” said a voice at the back of my neck. I gave a grunt and went on with my dream. It was a jolly dream, and nobody got up early in it. “We will now bathe,” repeated Archie. “Go away,” I said distinctly. Archie sat down on my […]

The House-Warming

Story type: Literature

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I.–WORK FOR ALL “Well,” said Dahlia, “what do you think of it?” I knocked the ashes out of my after-breakfast pipe, arranged the cushions of my deck-chair, and let my eyes wander lazily over the house and its surroundings. After a year of hotels and other people’s houses, Dahlia and Archie had come into their […]

On the same day I saw two unsettling announcements in the papers. The first said simply, underneath a suitable photograph, that the ski-ing season was now in full swing in Switzerland; the second explained elaborately why it cost more to go from London to the Riviera and back than from the Riviera to London and […]

The Doctor

Story type: Literature

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His slippered feet stretched out luxuriously to the fire, Dr. Venables, of Mudford, lay back in his arm-chair and gave himself up to the delights of his Flor di Cabajo, No. 2, a box of which had been presented to him by an apparently grateful patient. It had been a busy day. He had prescribed […]

The great Hector Strong, lord of journalism and swayer of empires, paced the floor of his luxurious apartment with bowed head, his corrugated countenance furrowed with lines of anxiety. He had just returned from a lunch with all his favourite advertisers … but it was not this which troubled him. He was thinking out a […]

The Collector

Story type: Literature

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When Peter Plimsoll, the Glue King, died, his parting advice to his sons to stick to the business was followed only by John, the elder. Adrian, the younger, had a soul above adhesion. He disposed of his share in the concern and settled down to follow the life of a gentleman of taste and culture […]

Melodrama

Story type: Essay

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The most characteristic thing about a melodrama is that it always begins at 7.30. The idea, no doubt, is that one is more in the mood for this sort of entertainment after a high tea than after a late dinner. Plain living leads to plain thinking, and a solid foundation of eggs and potted meat […]

The Adventurer

Story type: Literature

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Lionel Norwood, from his earliest days, had been marked out for a life of crime. When quite a child he was discovered by his nurse killing flies on the window-pane. This was before the character of the house-fly had become a matter of common talk among scientists, and Lionel (like all great men, a little […]

The Explorer

Story type: Literature

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As the evening wore on–and one young man after another asked Jocelyn Montrevor if she were going to Ascot, what? or to Henley, what? or what?–she wondered more and more if this were all that life would ever hold for her. Would she never meet a man, a real man who had done something? These […]

One Of Our Sufferers

Story type: Literature

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There is no question before the country of more importance than that of National Health. In my own small way I have made something of a study of it, and when a Royal Commission begins its enquiries, I shall put before it the evidence which I have accumulated. I shall lay particular stress upon the […]

The short essay on “The Improbability of the Infinite” which I was planning for you yesterday will now never be written. Last night my brain was crammed with lofty thoughts on the subject–and for that matter, on every other subject. My mind was never so fertile. Ten thousand words on any theme from Tin-tacks to […]

In The Swim

Story type: Literature

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“Do you tango?” asked Miss Hopkins, as soon as we were comfortably seated. I know her name was Hopkins, because I had her down on my programme as Popkins, which seemed too good to be true; and, in order to give her a chance of reconsidering it, I had asked her if she was one […]

Mr. Trevor Pilkington, of the well-known firm of Trevor Pilkington, fixed his horn spectacles carefully upon his nose, took a pinch of snuff, sneezed twice, gave his papers a preliminary rustle, looked slowly round the crowded room, and began to read the will. Through forty years of will-reading his method of procedure had always been […]

The Statesman

Story type: Literature

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On a certain night in the middle of the season all London was gathered in Lady Marchpane’s drawing-room; all London, that is, which was worth knowing–a qualification which accounted for the absence of several million people who had never heard of Lady Marchpane. In one corner of the room an Ambassador, with a few ribbons […]

There has been some talk lately of the standardization of golf balls, but a more urgent reform is the standardization of Christmas presents. It is no good putting this matter off; let us take it in hand now, so that we shall be in time for next Christmas. My crusade is on behalf of those […]

The Magnate

Story type: Literature

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It was in October, 19– that the word “Zinc” first began to be heard in financial circles. City men, pushing their dominoes regretfully away, and murmuring “Zinc” in apologetic tones, were back in their offices by three o’clock, forgetting in their haste to leave the usual twopence under the cup for the waitress. Clubmen, glancing […]

On The Bat’s Back

Story type: Literature

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With the idea of brightening cricket, my friend Twyford has given me a new bat. I have always felt that, in my own case, it was the inadequacy of the weapon rather than of the man behind it which accounted for a certain monotony of low-scoring; with this new bat I hope to prove the […]

State Lotteries

Story type: Essay

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The popular argument against the State Lottery is an assertion that it will encourage the gambling spirit. The popular argument in favour of the State Lottery is an assertion that it is hypocritical to say that it will encourage the gambling spirit, because the gambling spirit is already amongst us. Having listened to a good […]

Uncle Edward

Story type: Literature

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Celia has more relations than would seem possible. I am gradually getting to know some them by sight and a few more by name, but I still make mistakes. The other day, for instance, she happened to say she was going to a concert with Uncle Godfrey. “Godfrey,” I said, “Godfrey. No, don’t tell me–I […]

Peter Riley was one of those lucky people who take naturally to games. Actually he got his blue for cricket, rugger, and boxing, but his perfect eye and wrist made him a beautiful player of any game with a ball. Also he rode and shot well, and knew all about the inside of a car. […]

A Billiard Lesson

Story type: Literature

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I was showing Celia a few fancy strokes on the billiard-table. The other members of the house-party were in the library, learning their parts for some approaching theatricals–that is to say, they were sitting round the fire and saying to each other, “This is a rotten play.” We had been offered the position of auditors […]

The Record Lie

Story type: Essay

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I have just seen it quoted again. Yes, it appears solemnly in print, even now, at the end of the greatest war in history. Si vis pacem, para bellum. And the writer goes on to say that the League of Nations is all very well, but unfortunately we are “not angels.” Dear, dear! Being separated […]

The Seaside Novelette

Story type: Literature

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[MAY BE READ ON THE PIER] No. XCVIII–A SIMPLE ENGLISH GIRL CHAPTER I. PRIMROSE FARM Primrose Farm stood slumbering in the sunlight of an early summer morn. Save for the gentle breeze which played in the tops of the two tall elms all Nature seemed at rest. Chanticleer had ceased his song; the pigs were […]

“Yes,” said my friend, Ray Raymond, as a grim smile crossed his typically English face, looking round the chambers which we shared together, though he never had occasion to practise, though I unfortunately had, “it is a very curious affair indeed.” “Tell us the whole facts, Ray,” urged Vera Vallance, the pretty fair-haired daughter of […]

[A collaboration by the Authors of “The Broken Halo” and “The Woman Thou Gavest Me.”] CHAPTER I. SUNDAY MORNING (MRS. BARCLAY begins) It was a beautiful Sunday morning. All nature browsed in solemn Sabbath stillness. The Little Grey Woman of the Night-Light was hurrying, somewhat late, to church. Down the white ribbon of road the […]

Wedding Bells

Story type: Essay

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Champagne is often pleasant at lunch, it is always delightful at dinner, and it is an absolute necessity, if one is to talk freely about oneself afterwards, at a dance supper. But champagne for tea is horrible. Perhaps this is why a wedding always finds me melancholy next morning. “She has married the wrong man,” […]

A Didactic Novel

Story type: Literature

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THE MYSTERY OF GORDON SQUARE SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS CHAPTERS Roger Dangerfield, the famous barrister, is passing through Gordon Square one December night when he suddenly comes across the dead body of a man of about forty years. To his horror he recognises it to be that of his friend, Sir Eustace Butt, M.P., who has […]

The Parting Guest

Story type: Literature

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When nice people ask me to their houses for the week-end, I reply that I shall be delighted to come, but that pressure of work will prevent my staying beyond Tuesday. Sometimes, in spite of this, they try to kick me out on the Monday; and if I find that they are serious about it […]

The Landscape Gardener

Story type: Literature

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Really I know nothing about flowers. By a bit of luck, James, my gardener, whom I pay half a crown a week for combing the beds, knows nothing about them either; so my ignorance remains undiscovered. But in other people’s gardens I have to make something of an effort to keep up appearances. Without flattering […]

Public Opinion

Story type: Essay

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At the beginning of the last strike the papers announced that Public Opinion was firmly opposed to dictation by a minority. Towards the end of the strike the papers said that Public Opinion was strongly in favour of a settlement which would leave neither side with a sense of defeat. I do not complain of […]

The Same Old Story

Story type: Literature

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We stood in a circle round the parrot’s cage and gazed with interest at its occupant. She (Evangeline) was balancing easily on one leg, while with the other leg and her beak she tried to peel a monkey-nut. There are some of us who hate to be watched at meals, particularly when dealing with the […]

We were having breakfast in the garden with the wasps, and Peter was enlarging on the beauties of the country round his new week-end cottage. “Then there’s Hilderton,” he said; “that’s a lovely little village, I’m told. We might explore it to-morrow.” Celia woke up suddenly. “Is Hilderton near here?” she asked in surprise. “But […]

Definitions

Story type: Literature

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As soon as we had joined the ladies after dinner Gerald took up a position in front of the fire. “Now that the long winter evenings are upon us,” he began—- “Anyhow, it’s always dark at half-past nine,” said Norah. “Not in the morning,” said Dennis, who has to be excused for anything foolish he […]

We were resting after the first battle of the Somme. Naturally all the talk in the Mess was of after-the-war. Ours was the H.Q. Mess, and I was the only subaltern; the youngest of us was well over thirty. With a gravity befitting our years and (except for myself) our rank, we discussed not only […]

Lords Temporal

Story type: Literature

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We have eight clocks, called after the kind people who gave them to us. Let me introduce you: William, Edward, Muriel, Enid, Alphonse, Percy, Henrietta, and John–a large family. “But how convenient,” said Celia. “Exactly one for each room.” “Or two in each corner of the drawing-room. I don’t suggest it; I just throw out […]

The Missing Card

Story type: Literature

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What I say is this: A man has his own work to do. He slaves at the office all day, earning a living for those dependent on him, and when he comes home he may reasonably expect not to be bothered with domestic business. I am sure you will agree with me. And you would […]

Silver Linings

Story type: Literature

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“We want some more coal,” said Celia suddenly at breakfast. “Sorry,” I said, engrossed in my paper, and I passed her the marmalade. “More coal,” she repeated. I pushed across the toast. Celia sighed and held up her hand. “Please may I speak to you a moment?” she said, trying to snap her fingers. “Good; […]

Yes, a gardener’s life is a disappointing one. When it was announced that we were just too late for everything this year, I decided to buy some ready-made gardens and keep them about the house, until such time as Nature was ready to co-operate. So now I have three gardens. This enables me to wear […]

The Order Of The Bath

Story type: Literature

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“We must really do something about the bath,” said Celia. “We must,” I agreed. At present what we do is this. Punctually at six-thirty or nine, or whenever it is, Celia goes in to make herself clean and beautiful for the new day, while I amuse myself with a razor. After a quarter of an […]

A Trunk Call

Story type: Literature

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Last Wednesday, being the anniversary of the Wednesday before, Celia gave me a present of a door-knocker. The knocker was in the shape of an elephant’s head (not life-size); and by bumping the animal’s trunk against his chin you could produce a small brass noise. “It’s for the library,” she explained eagerly. “You’re going to […]

Old Friends

Story type: Literature

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“It was very nice of you to invite me to give you lunch,” I said, “and if only the waiter would bring the toast I should be perfectly happy. I can’t say more.” “Why not?” said Miss Middleton, looking up. “Oh, I see.” “And now,” I said, when I had finished my business with a […]

An Ordnance Map

Story type: Essay

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Spring calls to us to be up and about. It shouts to us to stand bareheaded upon hills and look down upon little woods and tiny red cottages, and away up to where the pines stand straight into the sky. Let the road, thin and white, wander on alone; we shall meet it again, and […]

Getting Married

Story type: Literature

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I.–THE DAY Probably you thought that getting married was quite a simple business. So did I. We were both wrong; it is the very dickens. Of course, I am not going to draw back now. As I keep telling Celia, her Ronald is a man of powerful fibre, and when he says he will do […]

An Insurance Act

Story type: Literature

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Of course, I had always known that a medical examination was a necessary preliminary to insurance, but in my own case I had expected the thing to be the merest formality. The doctor, having seen at a glance what a fine, strong, healthy fellow I was, would look casually at my tongue, apologise for having […]

Bachelor Relics

Story type: Literature

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“Do you happen to want,” I said to Henry, “an opera hat that doesn’t op? At least it only works on one side.” “No,” said Henry. “To any one who buys my opera hat for a large sum I am giving away four square yards of linoleum, a revolving book-case, two curtain rods, a pair […]

The Lord Mayor

Story type: Essay

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There is a story of a boy who was asked to name ten animals which inhabit the polar regions. After a little thought he answered, “Six penguins and four seals.” In the same way I suspect that, if you were asked to give the names of any three Lord Mayors of London, you would say, […]

Imagine us, if you can, sitting one on each side of the fire, I with my feet on the mantelpiece, Margery curled up in the blue arm-chair, both of us intent on the morning paper. To me, by good chance, has fallen the sporting page; to Margery the foreign, political, and financial intelligence of the […]

The King’s Sons

Story type: Literature

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“Tell me a story,” said Margery. “What sort of a story?” “A fairy story, because it’s Christmas-time.” “But you know all the fairy stories.” “Then tell me a new fairy story.” “Right,” I said. Once upon a time there was a King who had three sons. The eldest son was a very thoughtful youth. He […]

Among The Animals

Story type: Literature

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Jeremy was looking at a card which his wife had just passed across the table to him. “‘Lady Bendish. At Home,’” he read. “‘Pets.’ Is this for us?” “Of course,” said Mrs. Jeremy. “Then I think ‘Pets’ is rather familiar. ‘Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Smith’ would have been more correct.” “Don’t be silly, Jeremy. […]

The time for a summer holiday is May, June. July, August, and September–with, perhaps a fortnight in October if the weather holds up. But it is difficult to cram all this into the few short weeks allowed to most of us. We are faced accordingly with the business of singling out one month from the […]

A Tragedy Of The Sea

Story type: Literature

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William Bales–as nice a young man as ever wore a cummerbund on an esplanade–was in despair. For half an hour he and Miss Spratt had been sitting in silence on the pier, and it was still William’s turn to say something. Miss Spratt’s last remark had been, “Oh, Mr. Bales, you do say things!” and […]

The Financier

Story type: Literature

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I This is how I became a West African mining magnate with a stake in the Empire. During February I grew suddenly tired of waiting for the summer to begin. London in the summer is a pleasant place, and chiefly so because you can keep on buying evening papers to see what Kent is doing. […]

The Double

Story type: Literature

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I was having lunch in one of those places where you stand and eat sandwiches until you are tired, and then try to count up how many you have had. As the charm of these sandwiches is that they all taste exactly alike, it is difficult to recall each individual as it went down; one […]

It is the fashion, I understand, to be late for dinner, but punctual for lunch. What the perfect gentleman does when he accepts an invitation to breakfast I do not know. Possibly he has to be early. But for lunch the guests should arrive at the very stroke of the appointed hour, even though it […]

A Breath Of Life

Story type: Literature

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This is the story of a comedy which nearly became a tragedy. In its way it is rather a pathetic story. The comedy was called The Wooing of Winifred. It was written by an author whose name I forget; produced by the well-known and (as his press-agent has often told us) popular actor-manager, Mr. Levinski; […]

I know a fool of a dog who pretends that he is a Cocker Spaniel, and is convinced that the world revolves round him wonderingly. The sun rises so it may shine on his glossy morning coat; it sets so his master may know that it is time for the evening biscuit; if the rain […]

A Farewell Tour

Story type: Literature

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This is positively Chum’s last appearance in print–for his own sake no less than for yours. He is conceited enough as it is, but if once he got to know that people are always writing about him in books his swagger would be unbearable. However, I have said good-bye to him now; I have no […]

If you are one of those lucky people whose motor is not numbered (as mine is) 19 or 11 or 22, it does not really matter where your host for the evening prefers to live; Bayswater or Battersea or Blackheath–it is all the same to your chauffeur. But for those of us who have to […]

Oranges And Lemons

Story type: Literature

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I. THE INVITATION “Dear Myra,” wrote Simpson at the beginning of the year–“I have an important suggestion to make to you both, and I am coming round to-morrow night after dinner about nine o’clock. As time is so short I have asked Dahlia and Archie to meet me there, and if by any chance you […]

The Heir

Story type: Literature

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I.–HE INTRODUCES HIMSELF “In less refined circles than ours,” I said to Myra, “your behaviour would be described as swank. Really, to judge from the airs you put on, you might be the child’s mother.” “He’s jealous because he’s not an aunt himself. Isn’t he, ducksey darling?” “I do wish you wouldn’t keep dragging the […]

Winter Sport

Story type: Literature

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I.–AN INTRODUCTION “I had better say at once,” I announced as I turned over the wine list, “that I have come out here to enjoy myself, and enjoy myself I shall. Myra, what shall we drink?” “You had three weeks’ honeymoon in October,” complained Thomas, “and you’re taking another three weeks now. Don’t you ever […]

There is a girl in one of William de Morgan’s books who interrupts the narrator of a breathless tiger-hunting story with the rather disconcerting warning, “I’m on the side of the tiger; I always am.” It was the sporting instinct. Tigers may be wicked beasts who defend themselves when they are attacked, but one cannot […]

A Tragedy In Little

Story type: Literature

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The great question of the day is, What will become of Sidney? Whenever I think of him now, the unbidden tear wells into my eye … and wells down my cheek … and wells on to my collar. My friends think I have a cold, and offer me lozenges; but it is Sidney who makes […]

The Enchanted Castle

Story type: Literature

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There are warm days in London when even a window-box fails to charm, and one longs for the more open spaces of the country. Besides, one wants to see how the other flowers are getting on. It is on these days that we travel to our Castle of Stopes; as the crow flies, fifteen miles […]

The Competition Spirit

Story type: Literature

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About six weeks ago a Canadian gentleman named Smith arrived in the Old Country (England). He knew a man who knew a man who knew a man … and so on for a bit … who knew a man who knew a man who knew me. Letters passed; negotiations ensued; and about a week after […]

The other day I met a man who didn’t know where Tripoli was. Tripoli happened to come into the conversation, and he was evidently at a loss. “Let’s see,” he said. “Tripoli is just down by the–er–you know. What’s the name of that place?” “That’s right,” I answered, “just opposite Thingumabob. I could show you […]

The great question in the Mallory family just now is whether Dick will get into the eleven this year. Confident as he is himself, he is taking no risks. “We’re going to put the net up to-morrow,” he said to me as soon as I arrived, “and then you’ll be able to bowl to me. […]

The Perils Of Reviewing

Story type: Literature

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A most unfortunate thing has happened to a friend of mine called —- to a friend of —- to a —-. Well, I suppose the truth will have to come out. It happened to me. Only don’t tell anybody. I reviewed a book the other day. It is not often I do this, because before […]

A Poetry Recital

Story type: Literature

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It has always been the privilege of Art to be patronized by Wealth and Rank. Indeed, if we literary and artistic strugglers were not asked out to afternoon tea sometimes by our millionaire acquaintances, it is doubtful if we should be able to continue the struggle. Recently a new (and less expensive) method of entertaining […]

Common

Story type: Literature

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Seated in your comfortable club, my very dear sir, or in your delightful drawing-room, madam, you may smile pityingly at the idea of a mascot saving anybody’s life. “What will be, will be,” you say to yourself (or in Italian to your friends), “and to suppose that a charm round the neck of a soldier […]

At the beginning of every pantomime season, we are brought up against two original discoveries. The first is that Mr. Arthur Collins has undoubtedly surpassed himself; the other, that “the children’s pantomime” is not really a pantomime for children at all. Mr. Collins, in fact, has again surpassed himself in providing an entertainment for men […]

Armageddon

Story type: Literature

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The conversation had turned, as it always does in the smoking-rooms of golf clubs, to the state of poor old England, and Porkins had summed the matter up. He had marched round in ninety-seven that morning, followed by a small child with an umbrella and an arsenal of weapons, and he felt in form with […]

The Sands Of Pleasure

Story type: Literature

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Ladies first, so we will start with Jenny. Jenny is only nine, but she has been to the seaside before and knows all about it. She wears the fashionable costume de plage, which consists of a white linen hat, a jersey and an overcrowded pair of bathing-drawers, into which not only Jenny, but the rest […]

My pipe being indubitably smoked out to the last grain, I put it in my pocket and went slowly up to the nursery, trying to feel as much like that impersonation of a bear which would inevitably be demanded of me as is possible to a man of mild temperament. But I had alarmed myself […]

The Joke: A Tragedy

Story type: Literature

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CHAPTER I The Joke was born one October day in the trench called Mechanics, not so far from Loos. We had just come back into the line after six days in reserve, and, the afternoon being quiet, I was writing my daily letter to Celia. I was telling her about our cat, imported into our […]

One Star

Story type: Literature

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Occasionally I receive letters from friends, whom I have not seen lately, addressed to Lieutenant M —- and apologizing prettily inside in case I am by now a colonel; in drawing-rooms I am sometimes called “Captain-er”; and up at the Fort the other day a sentry of the Royal Defence Corps, wearing the Crecy medal, […]

Having read lately an appreciation of that almost forgotten author Marryat, and having seen in the shilling box of a second-hand bookseller a few days afterward a copy of Masterman Ready, I went in and bought the same. I had read it as a child, and remembered vaguely that it combined desert-island adventure with a […]

The Visitors’ Book

Story type: Literature

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“As man of the world,” said Blake, stretching himself to his full height of five foot three, and speaking with the wisdom of nineteen years, “I say that it can’t be done. In any other company, certainly; at headquarters, possibly; but not in D Company. D Company has a reputation.” “All I say,” said Rogers, […]

George’s V.C.

Story type: Literature

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(THE LAST OF THE WAR STORIES) I The Colonel of the Nth Blankshires was seated in his office. It was not an imposing room to look at. Furnished simply but tastefully with a table, officers, for use of, one, and a chair, ditto, one, it gave little evidence of the distressing scenes which had been […]

A Question Of Light

Story type: Literature

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As soon as Celia had got a cheque-book of her own (and I had explained the mysteries of “—- & Co.” to her), she looked round for a safe investment of her balance, which amounted to several pounds. My offers, first of an old stocking and afterwards of mines, mortgages and aerated breads, were rejected […]

Heavy Work

Story type: Literature

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Every now and then doctors slap me about and ask me if I was always as thin as this. “As thin as what?” I say with as much dignity as is possible to a man who has had his shirt taken away from him. “As thin as this,” says the doctor, hooking his stethoscope on […]

In the castle of which I am honorary baron we are in the middle of an orgy of “getting things done.” It must always be so, I suppose, when one moves into a new house. After the last furniture van has departed, and the painters’ bill has been receipted, one feels that one can now […]

The Way Down

Story type: Literature

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Sydney Smith, or Napoleon or Marcus Aurelius (somebody about that time) said that after ten days any letter would answer itself. You see what he meant. Left to itself your invitation from the Duchess to lunch next Tuesday is no longer a matter to worry about by Wednesday morning. You were either there or not […]

“Why don’t you write a war story?” said Celia one autumn day when that sort of story was popular. “Because everybody else does,” I said. “I forget how many bayonets we have on the Western Front, but there must be at least twice as many fountain-pens.” “It needn’t be about the Western Front.” “Unfortunately that’s […]

Sisterly Assistance

Story type: Literature

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I was talking to a very stupid man the other day. He was the stupidest man I have come across for many years. It is a hard thing to say of any man, but he appeared to me to be entirely lacking in intellect. It was Celia who introduced me to him. She had rung […]

Christmas Games

Story type: Essay

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The shops are putting on their Christmas dress. The cotton-wool, that time-hallowed substitute for snow, is creeping into the plate-glass windows; the pink lace collars are encircling again the cakes; and the “charming wedding or birthday present” of a week ago renews its youth as a “suitable Yuletide gift.” Everything calls to us to get […]

“Are you taking me to the Flower Show this afternoon?” asked Celia at breakfast. “No,” I said thoughtfully; “no.” “Well, that’s that. What other breakfast conversation have I? Have you been to any theatres lately?” “Do you really want to go to the Flower Show?” I asked. “Because I don’t believe I could bear it.” […]

"Wrongly Attributed"

Story type: Literature

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You’ve heard of Willy Ferrero, the Boy Conductor? A musical prodigy, seven years old, who will order the fifth oboe out of the Albert Hall as soon as look at him. Well, he has a rival. Willy, as perhaps you know, does not play any instrument himself; he only conducts. His rival (Johnny, as I […]

A Warm Half-Hour

Story type: Literature

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Whatever the papers say, it was the hottest afternoon of the year. At six-thirty I had just finished dressing after my third cold bath since lunch, when Celia tapped on the door. “I want you to do something for me,” she said. “It’s a shame to ask you on a day like this.” “It is […]

My daily paper just now is full of mathematical difficulties, submitted by its readers for the amusement of one of its staff. Every morning he appeals to us for assistance in solving tricky little problems about pints of water and herrings and rectangular fields. The magic number “9” has a great fascination for him. It […]

Enter Bingo

Story type: Literature

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Before I introduce Bingo I must say a word for Humphrey, his sparring partner. Humphrey found himself on the top of my stocking last December, put there, I fancy, by Celia, though she says it was Father Christmas. He is a small yellow dog, with glass optics, and the label round his neck said, “His […]

I am become an Authority on Birds. It happened in this way. The other day we heard the Cuckoo in Hampshire. (The next morning the papers announced that the Cuckoo had been heard in Devonshire–possibly a different one, but in no way superior to ours except in the matter of its Press agent.) Well, everybody […]

[An inevitable article in any decent magazine at Christmas-time. Read it carefully, and then have an uproarious time in your own little house.] It was a merry party assembled at Happy-Thought Hall for Christmas. The Squire liked company, and the friends whom he had asked down for the festive season had all stayed at Happy-Thought […]

By an “artist” I mean Shakespeare and Me and Bach and Myself and Velasquez and Phidias, and even You if you have ever written four lines on the sunset in somebody’s album, or modelled a Noah’s Ark for your little boy in plasticine. Perhaps we have not quite reached the heights where Shakespeare stands, but […]

Bad Lord Blight

Story type: Literature

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(A Moral Story for the Middle-aged) I Seated in the well-appointed library of Blight Hall, John Blighter, Seventeenth Earl of Blight, bowed his head in his hands and gave himself up to despair. The day of reckoning had come. Were appearances not so deceptive, one would have said that Lord Blight (“Blight,” as he was […]

The Obvious

Story type: Literature

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Celia had been calling on a newly married friend of hers. They had been schoolgirls together; they had looked over the same algebra book (or whatever it was that Celia learnt at school–I have never been quite certain); they had done their calisthenics side by side; they had compared picture post cards of Lewis Waller. […]

The Handicap Of Sex

Story type: Literature

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I found myself in the same drawing-room with Anne the other day, so I offered her one of my favourite sandwiches. (I hadn’t seen her for some time, and there were plenty in the plate.) “If you are coming to talk to me,” she said, “I think I had better warn you that I am […]

A London Garden

Story type: Essay

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I have always wanted a garden of my own. Other people’s gardens are all very well, but the visitor never sees them at their best. He comes down in June, perhaps, and says something polite about the roses. “You ought to have seen them last year,” says his host disparagingly, and the visitor represses with […]

To The Death

Story type: Literature

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(In the Twentieth Century manner) “Cauliflower!” shrieked Gaspard Volauvent across the little table in the estaminet. His face bristled with rage. “Serpent!” replied Jacques Rissole, bristling with equal dexterity. The two stout little men glared ferociously at each other. Then Jacques picked up his glass and poured the wine of the country over his friend’s […]

A Midsummer Madness

Story type: Literature

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The girl who shared Herbert’s meringue at dinner (a brittle one, which exploded just as he was getting into it) was kind and tactful. “It doesn’t matter a bit,” she said, removing fragments of shell from her lap; and, to put him at his ease again, went on “Are you interested in little problems at […]

I do not claim to be an authority on either the history or the practice of chess, but, as the poet Gray observed when he saw his old school from a long way off, it is sometimes an advantage not to know too much of one’s subject. The imagination can then be exercised more effectively. […]

The Fatal Gift

Story type: Literature

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People say to me sometimes, “Oh, you know Woolman, don’t you?” I acknowledge that I do, and, after the silence that always ensues, I add, “If you want to say anything against him, please go on.” You can almost hear the sigh of relief that goes up. “I thought he was a friend of yours,” […]

My Film Scenario

Story type: Literature

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[Specially written for Economic Pictures, Limited, whose Manager has had the good fortune to pick up for a mere song (or, to be more accurate, for a few notes) several thousand miles of discarded cinema films from a bankrupt company. The films comprise the well-known “Baresark Basil, the Pride of the Ranch” (two miles long), […]

The Legend Of Hi-You

Story type: Literature

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I In the days of Good King Carraway (dead now, poor fellow, but he had a pleasant time while he lasted) there lived a certain swineherd commonly called Hi-You. It was the duty of Hi-You to bring up one hundred and forty-one pigs for his master, and this he did with as much enthusiasm as […]

There was once a young man who decided to be a poodle-clipper. He felt that he had a natural bent for it, and he had been told that a fashionable poodle-clipper could charge his own price for his services. But his father urged him to seek another profession. “It is an uncertain life, poodle-clipping,” he […]

Experts

Story type: Essay

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The man in front of the fire was telling us a story about his wife and a bottle of claret. He had taken her to the best restaurant in Paris and had introduced her to a bottle of the famous Chateau Whatsitsname, 1320 (or thereabouts), a wine absolutely priceless–although the management, with its customary courtesy, […]

I take it that every able-bodied man and woman in this country wants to write a play. Since the news first got about that Orlando What’s-his-name made L50,000 out of “The Crimson Sponge,” there has been a feeling that only through the medium of the stage can literary art find its true expression. The successful […]

(In the manner of many contemporaries) Now that the “festive season” (copyright) is approaching, it behoves us all to prepare ourselves in some way to contribute to the gaiety of the Christmas house-party. A clever conjurer is welcome anywhere, and those of us whose powers of entertainment are limited to the setting of booby-traps or […]

CHARACTERS ROBERT CRAWSHAW, M.P.MARGARET CRAWSHAW (his wife).VIOLA CRAWSHAW (his daughter).RICHARD MERITON, M.P.DENIS CLIFTON. A Two-Act version of this play was produced by Mr. Dion Boucicault at the New Theatre on April 7, 1917, with the following cast: Robert Crawshaw–NIGEL PLAYFAIR.Margaret Crawshaw–HELEN HAYE.Viola Crawshaw–PEGGY KURTON.Richard Meriton–MARTIN LEWIS.Denis Clifton–DION BOUCICAULT.Lancelot Dodd–BERTRAM SIEMS. [SCENE.–ROBERT CRAWSHAW’S town house. Morning.] […]

CHARACTERS. UNCLE JAMES.AUNT EMILY.PHILIP.MARY.MRS. HIGGINS. This play was first produced by Mr. Owen Nares at the Victoria Palace Theatre on September 9,1918, with the following cast: Philip–OWEN NARES.Uncle James–TOM REYNOLDS.Aunt Emily–DOROTHY RADFORD.Mary–ADAH DICK.Mrs. Higgins–RACHEL DE SOLLA. [SCENE.–A room in UNCLE JAMES’S house in the Cromwell Road.] [TIME.–The day after the War.] [Any room in UNCLE […]

TALKER . Ladies and gentlemen, companions-in-arms, knights and ladies of the road, comrades all,–I have the honour to make an announcement to you. The wandering company of the Red Feathers is determined from this date, likewise disbanded, or, as others would say, dissolved. “What means this, Master Johannes?” I hear you say. “Who has done […]

CHARACTERS SIR JOHN PEMBURY, M.P.LADY PEMBURY.PERKINS.THE STRANGER. * * * * * The first performance of this play was given at the Alhambra Theatre on November 16, 1920, with the following cast: Sir John Pembury–GILBERT HARE.Lady Pembury–WINIFRED EMERY.Perkins–C.M. LOWNE.The Stranger–GERALD DU MAURIER. (A summer morning. The sunniest and perhaps the pleasantest room in the London […]

CHARACTERS KATE CAMBERLEY.CYRIL NORWOOD (her lover).DENNIS CAMBERLEY (her husband). This play was first produced by Mr. Godfrey Tearle at the Coliseum onSeptember 8, 1919, with the following cast: Dennis Camberley–GODFREY TEARLE.Kate Camberley–MARY MALONE.Cyril Norwood–EWAN BROOK. THE CAMBERLEY TRIANGLE (It is an evening of 1919 in KATE’S drawing-room. She is expecting him, and the Curtain goes […]

Samuel Butler made a habit (and urged it upon every young writer) of carrying a notebook about with him. The most profitable ideas, he felt, do not come from much seeking, but rise unbidden in the mind, and if they are not put down at once on paper, they may be lost for ever. But […]

I find it difficult to believe in Father Christmas. If he is the jolly old gentleman he is always said to be, why doesn’t he behave as such? How is it that the presents go so often to the wrong people? This is no personal complaint; I speak for the world. The rich people get […]

Our thermometer went down to 11 deg. the other night. The excitement was intense. It was, of course, the first person down to breakfast who rushed into the garden and made the discovery, and as each of us appeared he was greeted with the news. “I say, do you know there were twenty-one degrees of […]

Let us consider something seasonable; let us consider indoor games for a moment. And by indoor games I do not mean anything so serious as bridge and billiards, nor anything so commercial as vingt-et-un with fish counters, nor anything so strenuous as “bumps.” The games I mean are those jolly, sociable ones in which everybody […]

A paragraph in the papers of last week recorded the unusual action of a gentleman called Smith (or some such name) who had refused for reasons of conscience to be made a justice of the peace. Smith’s case was that the commission was offered to him as a reward for political services, and that this […]

It is nineteen years since I lived in a house; nineteen years since I went upstairs to bed and came downstairs to breakfast. Of course I have done these things in other people’s houses from time to time, but what we do in other people’s houses does not count. We are holiday-making then. We play […]

My friend Mr. Sidney Mandragon is getting on. He is now one of the great ones of the earth. He has just been referred to as “Among those present was Mr. Sidney Mandragon.” As everybody knows (or will know when they have read this article) the four stages along the road to literary fame are […]

Life is full of little problems, which arise suddenly and find one wholly unprepared with a solution. For instance, you travel down to Wimbledon on the District Railway–first-class, let us suppose, because it is your birthday. On your arrival you find that you have lost your ticket. Now, doubtless there is some sort of recognized […]

Yesterday I should have gone back to school, had I been a hundred years younger. My most frequent dream nowadays–or nowanights I suppose I should say–is that I am back at school, and trying to construe difficult passages from Greek authors unknown to me. That they are unknown is my own fault, as will be […]

Natural Science

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It is when Parliament is not sitting that the papers are most interesting to read. I have found an item of news to-day which would never have been given publicity in the busy times, and it has moved me strangely. Here it is, backed by the authority of Dr. Chalmers Mitchell:– “The caterpillar of the […]

The latest invention on the market is the wasp gun. In theory it is something like a letter clip; you pull the trigger and the upper and lower plates snap together with a suddenness which would surprise any insect in between. The trouble will be to get him in the right place before firing. But […]

This is a jolly world, and delightful things go on in it. For instance, I had a picture post card only yesterday from William Benson, who is staying at Ilfracombe. He wrote to say that he had gone down to Ilfracombe for a short holiday, and had been much struck by the beauty of the […]

The Label

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On those rare occasions when I put on my best clothes and venture into society, I am always astonished at the number of people in it whom I do not know. I have stood in a crowded ball-room, or sat in a crowded restaurant, and reflected that, of all the hundreds of souls present, there […]

The Profession

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I have been reading a little book called How to Write for the Press. Other books which have been published upon the same subject are How to Be an Author, How to Write a Play, How to Succeed as a Journalist, How to Write for the Magazines, and How to Earn œ600 a Year with […]

My first introduction to Lady Nicotine was at the innocent age of eight, when, finding a small piece of somebody else’s tobacco lying unclaimed on the ground, I decided to experiment with it. Numerous desert island stories had told me that the pangs of hunger could be allayed by chewing tobacco; it was thus that […]

Golden Fruit

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Of the fruits of the year I give my vote to the orange. In the first place it is a perennial–if not in actual fact, at least in the greengrocer’s shop. On the days when dessert is a name given to a handful of chocolates and a little preserved ginger, when mac�doine de fruits is […]

Wellington is said to have chosen his officers by their noses and chins. The standard for them in noses must have been rather high, to judge by the portraits of the Duke, but no doubt he made allowances. Anyhow, by this method he got the men he wanted. Some people, however, may think that he […]

A good many years ago I had a painful experience. I was discovered by my house-master reading in bed at the unauthorized hour of midnight. Smith minor in the next bed (we shared a candle) was also reading. We were both discovered. But the most annoying part of the business, as it seemed to me […]

Midsummer Day

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There is magic in the woods on Midsummer Day–so people tell me. Titania conducts her revels. Let others attend her court; for myself I will beg to be excused. I have no heart for revelling on Midsummer Day. On any other festival I will be as jocund as you please, but on the longest day […]

I have often longed to be a grocer. To be surrounded by so many interesting things– sardines, bottled raspberries, biscuits with sugar on the top, preserved ginger, hams, brawn under glass, everything in fact that makes life worth living; at one moment to walk up a ladder in search of nutmeg, at the next to […]

"Who’s Who"

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I like my novels long. When I had read three pages of this one I glanced at the end, and found to my delight that there were two thousand seven hundred and twenty-five pages more to come. I returned with a sigh of pleasure to page 4. I was just at the place where Leslie […]

When one has been without a certain pleasure for a number of years, one is accustomed to find on returning to it that it is not quite so delightful as one had imagined. In the years of abstinence one had built up too glowing a picture, and the reality turns out to be something much […]

Once on a time I discovered Samuel Butler; not the other two, but the one who wrote The Way of All Flesh, the second-best novel in the English language. I say the second-best, so that, if you remind me of Tom Jones or The Mayor of Casterbridge or any other that you fancy, I can […]

When swords went out of fashion, walking-sticks, I suppose, came into fashion. The present custom has its advantages. Even in his busiest day the hero’s sword must have returned at times to its scabbard, and what would he do then with nothing in his right hand? But our walking-sticks have no scabbards. We grasp them […]

The Diary Habit

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A newspaper has been lamenting the decay of the diary-keeping habit, with the natural result that several correspondents have written to say that they have kept diaries all their lives. No doubt all these diaries now contain the entry, “Wrote to the Daily —- to deny the assertion that the diary-keeping habit is on the […]

Last night the waiter put the celery on with the cheese, and I knew that summer was indeed dead. Other signs of autumn there may be–the reddening leaf, the chill in the early-morning air, the misty evenings–but none of these comes home to me so truly. There may be cool mornings in July; in a […]

The common joke against the Christmas number is that it is planned in July and made up in September. This enables it to be published in the middle of November and circulated in New Zealand by Christmas. If it were published in England at Christmas, New Zealand wouldn’t get it till February. Apparently it is […]

If a statement is untrue, it is not the more respectable because it has been said in Latin. We owe the war, directly, no doubt, to the Kaiser, but indirectly to the Roman idiot who said, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” Having mislaid my Dictionary of Quotations I cannot give you his name, but I […]

The most interesting column in any paper (always excepting those which I write myself) is that entitled “The World’s Press,” wherein one may observe the world as it appears to a press of which one has for the most part never heard. It is in this column that I have just made the acquaintance of […]

Daffodils

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The confession-book, I suppose, has disappeared. It is twenty years since I have seen one. As a boy I told some inquisitive owner what was my favourite food (porridge, I fancy), my favourite hero in real life and in fiction, my favourite virtue in woman, and so forth. I was a boy, and it didn’t […]

Goldfish

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Let us talk about–well, anything you will. Goldfish, for instance. Goldfish are a symbol of old-world tranquillity or mid-Victorian futility according to their position in the home. Outside the home, in that wild state from which civilization has dragged them, they may have stood for dare-devil courage or constancy or devotion; I cannot tell. I […]

The happy man would have happy faces round him; a sad face is a reproach to him for his happiness. So when I escape by the 2.10 on Saturday I distribute largesse with a liberal hand. The cabman, feeling that an effort is required of him, mentions that I am the first gentleman he has […]

The Pond

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My friend Aldenham’s pond stands at a convenient distance from the house, and is reached by a well-drained gravel path; so that in any weather one may walk, alone or in company, dry shod to its brink, and estimate roughly how many inches of rain have fallen in the night. The ribald call it the […]

There is a story in every name in that first column of The Times–Births, Marriages, and Deaths–down which we glance each morning, but, unless the name is known to us, we do not bother about the stories of other people. They are those not very interesting people, our contemporaries. But in a country churchyard a […]

I do not know why the Bar has always seemed the most respectable of the professions, a profession which the hero of almost any novel could adopt without losing caste. But so it is. A schoolmaster can be referred to contemptuously as an usher; a doctor is regarded humorously as a licensed murderer; a solicitor […]

Acacia Road

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Of course there are disadvantages of suburban life. In the fourth act of the play there may be a moment when the fate of the erring wife hangs in the balance, and utterly regardless of this the last train starts from Victoria at 11.15. It must be annoying to have to leave her at such […]

My Library

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When I moved into a new house a few weeks ago, my books, as was natural, moved with me. Strong, perspiring men shovelled them into packing-cases, and staggered with them to the van, cursing Caxton as they went. On arrival at this end, they staggered with them into the room selected for my library, heaved […]

When he reads of the notable doings of famous golfers, the eighteen-handicap man has no envy in his heart. For by this time he has discovered the great secret of golf. Before he began to play he wondered wherein lay the fascination of it; now he knows. Golf is so popular simply because it is […]

Sometimes when the printer is waiting for an article which really should have been sent to him the day before, I sit at my desk and wonder if there is any possible subject in the whole world upon which I can possibly find anything to say. On one such occasion I left it to Fate, […]