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The House-Warming
by [?]

But Dahlia didn’t keep her promise. My first hour was peaceful, but after that I had inquiries by every post. Blair looked in to know where Myra was; Archie asked if I’d seen Dahlia anywhere; and when finally Thomas’s head appeared in the doorway I decided that I had had enough of it.

“Oh, I say,” began Thomas, “will you come and–but I suppose you’re busy.”

“Not too busy,” I said, “to spare a word or two for an old friend,” and I picked up the dictionary to throw at him. But he was gone before I could take aim.

“This is the end,” I said to myself, and after five minutes more decided to give up work and seek refreshment and congenial conversation. To my surprise I found neither. Every room seemed to be empty, the tennis lawn was deserted, and Archie’s cricket-bag and Simpson’s golf-clubs rested peacefully in the hall. Something was going on. I went back to my work and decided to have the secret out at lunch.

“Now then,” I said, when that blessed hour arrived, “tell me about it. You’ve deserted me all morning, but I’m not going to be left out.”

“It’s your fault for shutting yourself up.”

“Duty,” I said, slapping my chest–“duty,” and I knocked my glass over with an elbow. “Oh, Dahlia, I’m horribly sorry. May I go and stand in the corner?”

“Let’s talk very fast and pretend we didn’t notice it,” said Myra, helping me to mop. “Go on, Archie.”

“Well, it’s like this,” said Archie. “A little while ago the Vicar called here.”

“I don’t see that that’s any reason for keeping me in the background. I have met clergymen before and I know what to say to them.”

“When I say a little while ago I mean about three weeks. We’d have asked you down for the night if we’d known you were so keen on clergymen. Well, as the result of that unfortunate visit, the school treat takes place here this afternoon, and lorblessme if I hadn’t forgotten all about it till this morning.”

“You’ll have to help, please,” said Dahlia.

“Only don’t spill anything,” said Thomas.

They have a poor sense of humour in the Admiralty.

. . . . . . .

I took a baby in each hand and wandered off to look for bees. Their idea, not mine.

“The best bees are round here,” I said, and I led them along to the front of the house. On the lawn was Myra, surrounded by about eight babies.

“Two more for your collection,” I announced. “Very fine specimens. The word with them is bees.”

“Aren’t they darlings? Sit down, babies, and the pretty gentleman will tell us all a story.”

“Meaning me?” I asked in surprise. Myra looked beseechingly at me as she arranged the children all round her. I sat down near them and tried to think.

“Once upon a time,” I said, “there was a–a–there was a–was a–a bee.”

Myra nodded approvingly. She seemed to like the story so far. I didn’t. The great dearth of adventures that could happen to a bee was revealed to me in a flash. I saw that I had been hasty.

“At least,” I went on, “he thought he was a bee, but as he grew up his friends felt that he was not really a bee at all, but a dear little rabbit. His fur was too long for a bee.”

Myra shook her head at me and frowned. My story was getting over-subtle for the infant mind. I determined to straighten it out finally.

“However,” I added, “the old name stuck to him, and they all called him a bee. Now then I can get on. Where was I?”

But at this moment my story was interrupted.

“Come here,” shouted Archie from the distance. “You’re wanted.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, getting up quickly. “Will you finish the story for me? You’d better leave out the part where he stings the Shah of Persia. That’s too exciting. Good-bye.” And I hurried after Archie.