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Her Sock
by [?]

“Well, a box of cigars. Rather full, and if you have any—-“

“The Cigar Department is on the ground floor.”

“But your Lord Chamberlain told me I was to come here if I wanted a present for a child.”

“If you require anything in the toy line—-“

“Yes, but what good are toys to a baby of four months? Do be reasonable.”

“What was it you suggested? A sideboard and a cigar?”

“That was my idea. It may not be the best possible, but at least it is better than perfectly useless toys. You can always blow smoke in its face, or bump its head against the sideboard. Experto crede, if you have the Latin.”

Whereupon with great dignity I made my way to the lift.

In the Sideboard Department I said: “I want a sideboard for a little girl of four months, and please don’t call her ‘IT.’ I nearly had a row with one of your downstairs staff about that.”

“I will try to be careful about that, Sir,” he replied. “What sort of a one?”

“Blue eyes and not much hair, and really rather a sweet smile…. Was that what you wanted to know?”

“Thank you, Sir. But I meant, what sort of a sideboard?”

I took him confidentially by the arm.

“Look here,” I said, “you know how, when one is carrying a baby about, one bumps its head at all the corners? Well, not too much of that. The mothers don’t really like it, you know. They smile at the time, but…. Well, not too many corners…. Yes, I like that very much. No, I won’t take it with me.”

The attendant wrote out the bill.

“Number, Sir?”

“She’s the first. That’s why I’m so nervous. I’ve never bought a sideboard for a child before.

“Your Stores number, I mean, Sir.”

“I haven’t got one. Is it necessary?”

“Must have a number, Sir.”

“Then I’ll think of a nice one for you…. Let’s see–12345, how does that strike you?”

“And the name?”

“Oh, I can’t tell you that. You must look that up for yourself. Good-day.”

Downstairs I bought some cigars.

“For a little girl of four months,” I said, “and she likes them rather full. Please don’t argue with me. All your men chatter so.”

“I must,” said the attendant. “It’s like this. If she is only four months, she is obviously little. Your observation is therefore tautological.”

“As a matter of fact,” I said hotly, “she is rather big for four months.”

“Then it was a lie.”

“Look here, you give me those cigars, and don’t talk so much. I’ve already had words with your Master of the Sideboards and your Under-Secretary for the Toy Department…. Thank you. If you would kindly send them.”


So there it is. I have given the spirit rather than the actual letter, of what happened at the Stores. But that the things have been ordered there is no doubt. And when Margery wakes up on Christmas Day to find a sideboard and a box of cigars in her sock I hope she will remember that she has chiefly her mother to thank for it.