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The House-Warming
by [?]

“Myra and I have an appointment,” put in Simpson hastily.

“A net will be erected,” Archie went on, ignoring him, “and Mr Simpson will take his stand therein, while we all bowl at him–or, if any prefer it, at the wicket–for five minutes. He will then bowl at us for an hour, after which he will have another hour’s smart fielding practice. If he is still alive and still talks about golf, why then, I won’t say but what he mightn’t be allowed to plan out a little course–or, at any rate, to do a little preliminary weeding.”

“Good man,” said Simpson.

“And if anybody else thinks he has given up cricket for ludo or croquet or oranges and lemons, then he can devote himself to planning out a little course for that too–or anyhow to removing a few plantains in preparation for it. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, all I want is for you to make yourselves as happy and as useful as you can.”

“It’s what you’re here for,” said Dahlia.


THE sun came into my room early next morning and woke me up. It was followed immediately by a large blue-bottle which settled down to play with me. We adopted the usual formation, the blue-bottle keeping mostly to the back of the court whilst I waited at the net for a kill. After two sets I decided to change my tactics. I looked up at the ceiling and pretended I wasn’t playing. The blue-bottle settled on my nose and walked up my forehead. “Heavens!” I cried, clasping my hand suddenly to my brow, “I’ve forgotten my toothbrush!” This took it completely by surprise, and I removed its corpse into the candlestick.

Then Simpson came in with a golf club in his hand.

“Great Scott,” he shouted, “you’re not still in bed?”

“I am not. This is telepathic suggestion. You think I’m in bed; I appear to be in bed; in reality there is no bed here. Do go away–I haven’t had a wink of sleep yet.”

“But, man, look at the lovely morning!”

“Simpson,” I said sternly, rolling up the sleeves of my pyjamas with great deliberation, “I have had one visitor already to-day. His corpse is now in the candlestick. It is an omen, Simpson.”

“I thought you’d like to come outside with me, and I’d show you my swing.”

“Yes, yes, I shall like to see that, but AFTER breakfast, Simpson. I suppose one of the gardeners put it up for you? You must show me your box of soldiers and your tricycle horse, too. But run away now, there’s a good boy.”

“My golf-swing, idiot.”

I sat up in bed and stared at him in sheer amazement. For a long time words wouldn’t come to me. Simpson backed nervously to the door.

“I saw the Coronation,” I said at last, and I dropped back on my pillow and went to sleep.

. . . . . .

“I feel very important,” said Archie, coming on to the lawn where Myra and I were playing a quiet game of bowls with the croquet balls. “I’ve been paying the wages.”

“Archie and I do hate it so,” said Dahlia. “I’m luckier, because I only pay mine once a month.”

“It would be much nicer if they did it for love,” said Archie, “and just accepted a tie-pin occasionally. I never know what to say when I hand a man eighteen-and-six.”

“Here’s eighteen-and-six,” I suggested, “and don’t bite the half-sovereign, because it may be bad.”

“You should shake his hand,” said Myra, “and say, ‘Thank you very much for the azaleas.'”

“Or you might wrap the money up in paper and leave it for him in one of the beds.”

“And then you’d know whether he had made it properly.”

“Well, you’re all very helpful,” said Archie. “Thank you extremely. Where are the others? It’s a pity that they should be left out of this.”

“Simpson disappeared after breakfast with his golf-clubs. He is in high dudgeon–which is the surname of a small fish–because no one wanted to see his swing.”