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The House-Warming
by [?]


“Well,” said Dahlia, “what do you think of it?”

I knocked the ashes out of my after-breakfast pipe, arranged the cushions of my deck-chair, and let my eyes wander lazily over the house and its surroundings. After a year of hotels and other people’s houses, Dahlia and Archie had come into their own.

“I’ve no complaints,” I said happily.

A vision of white and gold appeared in the doorway and glided over the lawn toward us–Myra with a jug.

“None at all,” said Simpson, sitting up eagerly.

“But Thomas isn’t quite satisfied with one of the bathrooms, I’m afraid. I heard him saying something in the passage about it this morning when I was inside.”

“I asked if you’d gone to sleep in the bath,” explained Thomas.

“I hadn’t. It is practically impossible, Thomas, to go to sleep in a cold bath.”

“Except, perhaps, for a Civil Servant,” said Blair.

“Exactly. Of the practice in the Admiralty Thomas can tell us later on. For myself I was at the window looking at the beautiful view.”

“Why can’t you look at it from your own window instead of keeping people out of the bathroom?” grunted Thomas.

“Because the view from my room is an entirely different one.”

“There is no stint in this house,” Dahlia pointed out.

“No,” said Simpson, jumping up excitedly.

Myra put the jug of cider down in front of us.

“There!” she said. “Please count it, and see that I haven’t drunk any on the way.”

“This is awfully nice of you, Myra. And a complete surprise to all of us except Simpson. We shall probably be here again to-morrow about the same time.”

There was a long silence, broken only by the extremely jolly sound of liquid falling from a height.

Just as it was coming to an end Archie appeared suddenly among us and dropped on the grass by the side of Dahlia. Simpson looked guiltily at the empty jug, and then leant down to his host.

“TO-MORROW!” he said in a stage whisper. “ABOUT THE SAME TIME.”

“I doubt it,” said Archie.

“I know it for a fact,” protested Simpson.

“I’m afraid Myra and Samuel made an assignation for this morning,” said Dahlia.

“There’s nothing in it, really,” said Myra. “He’s only trifling with me. He doesn’t mean anything.”

Simpson buried his confused head in his glass, and proceeded to change the subject.

“We all like your house, Archie,” he said.

“We do,” I agreed, “and we think it’s very nice of you to ask us down to open it.”

“It is rather,” said Archie.

“We are determined, therefore, to do all we can to give the house a homey appearance. I did what I could for the bathroom this morning. I flatter myself that the taint of newness has now been dispelled.”

“I was sure it was you,” said Myra. “How do you get the water right up the walls?”

“Easily. Further, Archie, if you want any suggestions as to how to improve the place, our ideas are at your disposal.”

“For instance,” said Thomas, “where do we play cricket?”

“By the way, you fellows,” announced Simpson, “I’ve given up playing cricket.”

We all looked at him in consternation.

“Do you mean you’ve given up BOWLING?” said Dahlia, with wide-open eyes.

“Aren’t you ever going to walk to the wickets again?” asked Blair.

“Aren’t you ever going to walk back to the pavilion again?” asked Archie.

“What will Montgomeryshire say?” wondered Myra in tones of awe.

“May I have your belt and your sand-shoes?” I begged.

“It’s the cider,” said Thomas. “I knew he was overdoing it.”

Simpson fixed his glasses firmly on his nose and looked round at us benignly.

“I’ve given it up for golf,” he observed.

“Traitor,” said everyone.

“And the Triangular Tournament arranged for, and everything,” added Myra.

“You could make a jolly little course round here,” went on the infatuated victim. “If you like, Archie, I’ll–“

Archie stood up and made a speech.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “at 11.30 to-morrow precisely I invite you to the paddock beyond the kitchen-garden.”