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Winter Sport
by [?]

It was a day of colour, straight from heaven. On either side the dazzling whiteness of the snow; above, the deep blue of the sky; in front of me the glorious apricot of Simpson’s winter suiting. London seemed a hundred years away. It was impossible to work up the least interest in the Home Rule Bill, the Billiard Tournament, or the state of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“I feel extremely picturesque,” said Archie. “If only we had a wolf or two after us, the illusion would be complete. The Boy Trappers, or Half-Hours among the Rocky Mountains.”

“It is a pleasant thought, Archie,” I said, “that in any wolf trouble the bachelors of the party would have to sacrifice themselves for us. Myra dear, the loss of Samuel in such circumstances would draw us very close together. There might be a loss of Thomas too, perhaps–for if there was not enough of Simpson to go round, if there was a hungry wolf left over, would Thomas hesitate?”

“No,” said Thomas, “I should run like a hare.”

Simpson said nothing. His face I could not see; but his back looked exactly like the back of a man who was trying to look as if he had been brought up on skis from a baby and was now taking a small party of enthusiastic novices out for their first lesson.

“What an awful shock it would be,” I said, “if we found that Samuel really did know something about it after all; and, while we were tumbling about anyhow, he sailed gracefully down the steepest slopes. I should go straight back to Cricklewood.”

“My dear chap, I’ve read a lot about it.”

“Then we’re quite safe.”

“With all his faults,” said Archie, “and they are many–Samuel is a gentleman. He would never take an unfair advantage of us. Hallo, here we are!”

We left the road and made our way across the snow to a little wooden hut which Archie had noticed the day before. Here we were to meet Dahlia for lunch; and here, accordingly, we left the rucksack and such garments as the heat of the sun suggested. Then, at the top of a long snow-slope, steep at first, more gentle later, we stood and wondered.

“Who’s going first?” said Archie.

“What do you do?” asked Myra.

“You don’t. It does it for you.”

“But how do you stop?”

“Don’t bother about that, dear,” I said. “That will be arranged for you all right. Take two steps to the brink of the hill and pick yourself up at the bottom. Now then, Simpson! Be a man. The lady waits, Samuel. The—- Hallo! Hi! Help!” I cried, as I began to move off slowly. It was too late to do anything about it. “Good-bye,” I called. And then things moved more quickly….

Very quickly….

Suddenly there came a moment when I realized that I wasn’t keeping up with my feet….

I shouted to my skis to stop. It was no good. They went on….

I decided to stop without them….

The ensuing second went by too swiftly for me to understand rightly what happened. I fancy that, rising from my sitting position and travelling easily on my head, I caught my skis up again and passed them….

Then it was their turn. They overtook me….

But I was not to be beaten. Once more I obtained the lead. This time I took the inside berth, and kept it….

There seemed to be a lot more snow than I really wanted…. I struggled bravely with it….

And then the earthquake ceased, and suddenly I was in the outer air. My first ski-run, the most glorious run of modern times, was over.

“Ripping!” I shouted up the hill to them. “But there’s rather a nasty bump at the bottom,” I added kindly, as I set myself to the impossible business of getting up….

“Jove,” said Archie, coming to rest a few yards off, “that’s splendid!” He had fallen in a less striking way than myself, and he got to his feet without difficulty. “Why do you pose like that?” he asked, as he picked up his stick.