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In The Swim
by [?]

“Oh, I don’t think—-“

“I’ll go and get them,” I said hastily; and I went and took a long time getting them, and, as it turned out that she didn’t want hers after all, a longer time eating them. When I was ready for conversation again the next dance was beginning. With a bow I relinquished her to another.

“Come along,” said a bright voice behind me; “this is ours.”

“Hallo, Norah, is that you? Come on.”

We hurried in, danced in silence, and then found ourselves a comfortable seat. For a moment neither of us spoke….

“Have you learnt the tango yet?” asked Norah.

“Fourteen,” I said aloud.

“Help! Does that mean that I’m the fourteenth person who has asked you?”

“The night is yet young, Norah. You are only the eighth. But I was betting that you’d ask me before I counted twenty. You lost, and you owe me a pair of ivory-backed hair-brushes and a cigar-cutter.”

“Bother! Anyhow, I’m not going to be stopped talking about the tango if I want to. Did you know I was learning? I can do the scissors.”

“Good. We’ll do the new Fleet Street movement together, the scissors-and-paste. You go into the ball-room and do the scissors, and I’ll–er–stick here and do the paste.”

“Can’t you really do any of it at all, and aren’t you going to learn?”

“I can’t do any of it at all, Norah. I am not going to learn, Norah.”

“It isn’t so very difficult, you know. I’d teach you myself for tuppence.”

“Will you stop talking about it for threepence?” I asked, and I took out three coppers.


I sighed and put them back again.

. . . . .

It was the last dance of the evening. My hostess, finding me lonely, had dragged me up to somebody, and I and whatever her name was were in the supper-room drinking our farewell soup. So far we had said nothing to each other. I waited anxiously for her to begin. Suddenly she began.

“Have you thought about Christmas presents yet?” she asked.

I nearly swooned. With difficulty I remained in an upright position. She was the first person who had not begun by asking me if I danced the tango!

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m afraid I didn’t–would you tell me your name again?”

I felt that it ought to be celebrated in some way. I had some notion of writing a sonnet to her.

“Hopkins,” she said; “I knew you’d forgotten me.”

“Of course I haven’t,” I said, suddenly remembering her. The sonnet would never be written now. “We had a dance together before.”

“Yes,” she said. “Let me see,” she added, “I did ask you if you danced the tango, didn’t I?”