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An Inland Voyage
by [?]

“Here’s a nice little trick,” broke in Bob, as I was preparing myself in this way for the German invasion.

He had put two chairs together, front to front, and was standing over them–a foot on the floor on each side of them, if that conveys it to you. Then he jumped up, turned round in the air, and came down facing the other way.

“Can YOU do it?” I said to Miss Power.

“Come and try,” said Bob to me. “It’s not really difficult.”

I went and stood over the chairs. Then I moved them apart and walked over to my hostess.

“Good-bye,” I said; “I’m afraid I must go now.”

“Coward!” said somebody, who knew me rather better than the others.

“It’s much easier than you think,” said Bob.

“I don’t think it’s easy at all,” I protested. “I think it’s impossible.”

I went back and stood over the chairs again. For some time I waited there in deep thought. Then I bent my knees preparatory to the spring, straightened them up, and said:

“What happens if you just miss it?”

“I suppose you bark your shins a bit.”

“Yes, that’s what I thought.”

I bent my knees again, worked my arms up and down, and then stopped suddenly and said:

“What happens if you miss it pretty easily?”

“Oh, YOU can do it, if Bob can,” said Miss Power kindly.

“He’s practised. I expect he started with two hassocks and worked up to this. I’m not afraid but I want to know the possibilities. If it’s only a broken leg or two, I don’t mind. If it’s permanent disfigurement I think I ought to consult my family first.”

I jumped up and came down again the same way for practice.

“Very well,” I said. “Now I’m going to try. I haven’t the faintest hope of doing it, but you all seem to want to see an accident, and, anyhow, I’m not going to be called a coward. One, two, three…”

“Well done,” cried everybody.

“Did I do it?” I whispered, as I sat on the floor and pressed a cushion against my shins.


“Then,” I said, massaging my ankles, “next time I shall try to miss.”


OF course I should recognize Simpson anywhere, even at a masked ball. Besides, who but Simpson would go to a fancy-dress dance as a short-sighted executioner, and wear his spectacles outside his mask? But it was a surprise to me to see him there at all.

“Samuel,” I said gravely, tapping him on the shoulder, “I shall have to write home about this.”

He turned round with a start.

“Hallo!” he said eagerly. “How splendid! But, my dear old chap, why aren’t you in costume?”

“I am,” I explained. “I’ve come as an architect. Luckily the evening clothes of an architect are similar to my own. Excuse me, sir, but do you want a house built?”

“How do you like my dress? I am an executioner. I left my axe in the cloak-room.”

“So I observe. You know, in real life, one hardly ever meets an executioner who wears spectacles. And yet, of course, if one CAN’T see the head properly without glasses–“

“By Jove,” said Simpson, “there she is again.”

Columbine in a mask hurried past us and mixed with the crowd. What one could see of her face looked pretty; it seemed to have upset Simpson altogether.

“Ask her for a dance,” I suggested. “Be a gay dog, Simpson. Wake London up. At a masked ball one is allowed a certain amount of licence.”

“Exactly,” said Simpson in some excitement. “One naturally looks for a little Continental ABANDON at these dances.” (PORTRAIT OF SIMPSON SHOWING CONTINENTAL abandon.) “And so I did ask her for a dance just now.”

“She was cold, Samuel, I fear?”

“She said, ‘Sorry, I’m full up.'”

“A ruse, a mere subterfuge. Now, look here, ask her again, and be more debonair and dashing this time. What you want is to endue her with the spirit of revelry. Perhaps you’d better go to the bar first and have a dry ginger-ale, and then you’ll feel more in the Continental mood.”