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A Warm Half-Hour
by [?]

She was the last person I wanted at that moment. In an hour and a half she would be dining with us. Algernon would not be dining with us. If Algernon and Mrs. Thompson were to meet now, would she not be expecting him to turn up at every course? Think of the long drawn-out disappointment for her; not even lobster sauce!

There was no time to lose. I decided to abandon the ice. Leaving it on the pavement I clutched the lobster and walked hastily back the way I had come.

By the time I had shaken off Mrs. Thompson I was almost at the fishmonger’s. That decided me. I would begin all over again, and would do it properly this time. “I want three of ice,” I said with an air.

“Three of ice, Bill,” said the fishmonger, and Bill gave me quite a respectable segment in “The Morning Post.”

“And I want a taxi,” I said, and I waved my lobster at one.

We drove quickly home.

But as we neared the flat I suddenly became nervous about Algernon. I could not take him, red and undraped, past the hall-porter, past all the other residents who might spring out at me on the stairs. Accordingly, I placed the block of ice on the seat, took off some of its “Morning Post,” and wrapped Algernon up decently. Then I sprang out, gave the man a coin, and hastened into the building.

* * * * *

“Bless you,” said Celia, “have you got it? How sweet of you!” And she took my parcel from me. “Now we shall be able–Why, what’s this?”

I looked at it closely.

“It’s–it’s a lobster,” I said. “Didn’t you say lobster?”

“I said ice.”

“Oh,” I said, “oh, I didn’t understand. I thought you said lobster.”

“You can’t put lobster in cider cup,” said Celia severely.

Of course I quite see that. It was foolish of me. However, it’s pleasant to think that the taxi must have been nice and cool for the next man.