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PAGE 3

The House-Warming
by [?]

“Oh, but I do,” said Dahlia eagerly. “Where is he?”

“We will track him down,” announced Archie. “I will go to the stables, unchain the truffle-hounds, and show them one of his reversible cuffs.”

We found Simpson in the pig-sty. The third hole, as he was planning it out for Archie, necessitated the carrying of the farm buildings, which he described as a natural hazard. Unfortunately, his ball had fallen into a casual pig-sty. It had not yet been decided whether the ball could be picked out without penalty–the more immediate need being to find the blessed thing. So Simpson was in the pig-sty, searching.

“If you’re looking for the old sow,” I said, “there she is, just behind you.”

“What’s the local rule about loose pigs blown on to the course?” asked Archie.

“Oh, you fellows, there you are,” said Simpson rapidly. “I’m getting on first-rate. This is the third hole, Archie. It will be rather good, I think; the green is just the other side of the pond. I can make a very sporting little course.”

“We’ve come to see your swing, Samuel,” said Myra. “Can you do it in there, or is it too crowded?”

“I’ll come out. This ball’s lost, I’m afraid.”

“One of the little pigs will eat it,” complained Archie, “and we shall have indiarubber crackling.”

Simpson came out and proceeded to give his display. Fortunately the weather kept fine, the conditions indeed being all that could be desired. The sun shone brightly, and there was a slight breeze from the south which tempered the heat and in no way militated against the general enjoyment. The performance was divided into two parts. The first part consisted of Mr Simpson’s swing WITHOUT the ball, the second part being devoted to Mr Simpson’s swing WITH the ball.

“This is my swing,” said Simpson.

He settled himself ostentatiously into his stance and placed his club-head stiffly on the ground three feet away from him.

“Middle,” said Archie.

Simpson frowned and began to waggle his club. He waggled it carefully a dozen times.

“It’s a very nice swing,” said Myra at the end of the ninth movement, “but isn’t it rather short?”

Simpson said nothing, but drew his club slowly and jerkily back, twisting his body and keeping his eye fixed on an imaginary ball until the back of his neck hid it from sight.

“You can see it better round this side now,” suggested Archie.

“He’ll split if he goes on,” said Thomas anxiously.

“Watch this,” I warned Myra. “He’s going to pick a pin out of the back of his calf with his teeth.”

Then Simpson let himself go, finishing up in a very creditable knot indeed.

“That’s quite good,” said Dahlia. “Does it do as well when there’s a ball?”

“Well, I miss it sometimes, of course.”

“We all do that,” said Thomas.

Thus encouraged, Simpson put down a ball and began to address it. It was apparent at once that the last address had been only his telegraphic one; this was the genuine affair. After what seemed to be four or five minutes there was a general feeling that some apology was necessary. Simpson recognized this himself.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said.

“Not so nervous as the pigs are,” said Archie.

Simpson finished his address and got on to his swing. He swung. He hit the ball. The ball, which seemed to have too much left-hand side on it, whizzed off and disappeared into the pond. It sank….

Luckily the weather had held up till the last.

“Well, well,” said Archie, “it’s time for lunch. We have had a riotous morning. Let’s all take it easy this afternoon.”

III.–UNEXPECTED GUESTS

Sometimes I do a little work in the morning. Doctors are agreed now that an occasional spell of work in the morning doesn’t do me any harm. My announcement at breakfast that this was one of the mornings was greeted with a surprised enthusiasm which was most flattering. Archie offered me his own room where he does his thinking; Simpson offered me a nib; and Dahlia promised me a quiet time till lunch. I thanked them all and settled down to work.