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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 says since he became obsessed with golf.

“Please don’t interrupt,” I begged. “Gerald is making a speech.”

“I was only going to say that we might have a little game of some sort. Norah, what’s the latest parlour game from London?”

“Tell your uncle,” I urged, “how you amuse yourselves at the Lyceum.”

“Do you know ‘Hunt the Pencil’?”

“No. What do you do?”

“You collect five pencils; when you’ve got them, I’ll tell you another game.”

“Bother these pencil games,” said Dennis, taking an imaginary swing with a paper-knife. “I hope it isn’t too brainy.”

“You’ll want to know how to spell,” said Norah severely, and she went to the writing-desk for some paper.

In a little while–say, half an hour–we had each a sheet of paper and a pencil, and Norah was ready to explain.

“It’s called Definitions. I expect you all know it.”

We assured her we didn’t.

“Well, you begin by writing down five or six letters, one underneath the other. We might each suggest one. ‘E.'”

We weighed in with ours, and the result was E P A D U.

“Now you write them backwards.”

There was a moment’s consternation.

“Like ‘bath-mat’?” said Dennis. “An ‘e’ backwards looks so silly.”

“Stupid–like this,” explained Norah. She showed us her paper.


“This is thrilling,” said Mrs. Gerald, pencilling hard.

“Then everybody has to fill in words all the way down, your first word beginning with ‘e’ and ending with ‘u,’ and so on. See?”

Gerald leant over Dennis and explained carefully to him, and in a little while we all saw.

“Then, when everybody’s finished, we define our words in turn, and the person who guesses a word first gets a mark. That’s all.”

“And a very good game too,” I said, and I rubbed my head and began to think.

“Of course,” said Norah, after a quarter of an hour’s silence, “you want to make the words difficult and define them as subtly as possible.”

“Of course,” I said, wrestling with ‘E–U.’ I could only think of one word, and it was the one everybody else was certain to have.

“Are we all ready? Then somebody begin.”

“You’d better begin, Norah, as you know the game,” said Mrs. Gerald.

We prepared to begin.

“Mine,” said Norah, “is a bird.”

“Emu,” we all shouted; but I swear I was first.


“I don’t think that’s a very subtle definition,” said Dennis. “You promised to be as subtle as possible.”

“Go on, dear,” said Gerald to his wife.

“Well, this is rather awkward. Mine is—-“

“Emu,” I suggested.

“You must wait till she has defined it,” said Norah sternly.

“Mine is a sort of feathered animal.”

“Emu,” I said again. In fact, we all said it.

Gerald coughed. “Mine,” he said, “isn’t exactly a–fish, because it—-“

“Emu,” said everybody.

“That was subtler,” said Dennis, “but it didn’t deceive us.”

“Your turn,” said Norah to me. And they all leant forward ready to say “Emu.”

“Mine,” I said, “is–all right, Dennis, you needn’t look so excited–is a word I once heard a man say at the Zoo.”

There was a shriek of “Emu!”

“Wrong,” I said.

Everybody was silent.

“Where did he say it?” asked Norah at last. “What was he doing?”

“He was standing outside the Emu’s cage.”

“It must have been Emu.”

“It wasn’t.”

“Perhaps there’s another animal beginning with ‘e’ and ending with ‘u,'” suggested Dennis. “He might have said,’Look here, I’m tired of this old Emu, let’s go and see the E-doesn’t-mu,’ or whatever it’s called.”