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Holiday Time
by [?]

“It’s about time we came out,” I shouted to Archie after the third pint. “I’m exceeding my allowance.”

“Aren’t you glad now you came?” he cried from the top of a wave.

“Very,” I said a moment later from inside it.

But I really did feel glad ten minutes afterwards as I sat on the beach in the sun and smoked a cigarette, and threw pebbles lazily into the sea.

“Holbein, how brave of you!” cried a voice behind me.

“Good-morning. I’m not at all sure that I ought to speak to you.”

“Have you really been taking the sea so early,” said Myra as she sat down between us, “or did you rumple each other’s hair so as to deceive me?”

“I have been taking the sea,” I confessed. “What you observe out there now is what I left.”

“Oh, but that’s what I do. That’s why I didn’t come to-day–because I had so much yesterday.”

“I’m a three-bottle man. I can go on and on and on. And after all these years I have the most sensitive palate of any man living. For instance, I can distinguish between Scarborough and Llandudno quite easily with my eyes shut. Speaking as an expert, I may say that there is nothing to beat a small Cromer and seltzer; though some prefer a Ventnor and dash. Ilfracombe with a slice of lemon is popular, but hardly appeals to the fastidious.”

“Do you know,” said Archie, “that you are talking drivel? Nobody ought to drivel before breakfast. It isn’t decent. What does Dahlia want to do to-day, Myra?”

“Mr Simpson is coming by the one-thirty.”

“Good; then we’ll have a slack day. The strain of meeting Simpson will be sufficient for us. I do hope he comes in a yachting cap–we’ll send him back if he doesn’t.”

“I told him to bring one,” said Myra. “I put a P.S. in Dahlia’s letter–please bring your telescope and yachting cap. She thought we could have a good day’s sailing to-morrow, if you’d kindly arrange about the wind.”

“I’ll talk to the crew about it and see what he can do. If we get becalmed we can always throw somebody overboard, of course. Well, I must go in and finish my toilet.”

We got up and climbed slowly back to the house.

“And then,” I said, “then for the heavy meal.”


“Well,” said Dahlia, giving up the tiller with a sigh, “if this is all that you and Joe can do in the way of a breeze, you needn’t have worried.”

“Don’t blame the crew,” said Archie nobly, “he did his best. He sat up all night whistling.”

“ARE we moving?” asked Myra, from a horizontal position on the shady side of the mainsail.

“We are not,” I said, from a similar position on the sunny side. “Let’s get out.”

Simpson took off his yachting cap and fanned himself with a nautical almanac. “How far are we from anywhere?” he asked cheerfully.

“Miles,” said Archie. “To be more accurate, we are five miles from a public-house, six from a church, four from a post-office, and three from the spacious walled-in kitchen-garden and tennis-court. On the other hand, we are quite close to the sea.”

“You will never see your friends again, Simpson. They will miss you … at first … perhaps; but they will soon forget. The circulation of the papers that you wrote for will go up, the brindled bull-pup will be fed by another and a smaller hand, but otherwise all will be as it was before.”

My voice choked, and at the same moment something whizzed past me into the sea.

“Yachting cap overboard! Help!” cried Myra.

“You aren’t in The Spectator office now, Simpson,” said Archie severely, as he fished with the boat-hook. “There is a time for ballyragging. By the way, I suppose you do want it back again?”

“It’s my fault,” I confessed remorsefully; “I told him yesterday I didn’t like it.”

“Myra and I do like it, Mr Simpson. Please save it, Archie.”

Archie let it drip from the end of the boat-hook for a minute, and then brought it in.