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The House-Warming
by [?]

“Help Simpson with some of these races,” said Archie. “He’s getting himself into the dickens of a mess.”

Simpson had started two races simultaneously; hence the trouble. In one of them the bigger boys had to race to a sack containing their boots, rescue their own pair, put them on, and race back to the starting-point. Good! In the other the smaller boys, each armed with a paper containing a problem in arithmetic, had to run to their sisters, wait for the problem to be solved, and then run back with the answer. Excellent! Simpson at his most inventive. Unfortunately, when the bootless boys arrived at the turning post, they found nothing but a small problem in arithmetic awaiting them, while on the adjoining stretch of grass young mathematicians were trying, with the help of their sisters, to get into two pairs of boots at once.

“Hallo, there you are,” said Simpson. “Do help me; I shall be mobbed in a moment. It’s the mothers. They think the whole thing is a scheme for stealing their children’s boots. Can’t you start a race for them?”

“You never ought to go about without somebody. Where’s Thomas?”

“He’s playing rounders. He scored a rounder by himself just now from an overthrow, but we shall hear about it at dinner. Look here, there’s a game called ‘Twos and Threes.’ Couldn’t you start the mothers at that? You stand in twos, and whenever anyone stands in front of the two then the person behind the two runs away.”

“Are you sure?”

“What do you mean?” said Simpson.

“It sounds too exciting to be true. I can’t believe it.”

“Go on, there’s a good chap. They’ll know how to play all right.”

“Oh, very well. Do they take their boots off first or not?”

Twos and Threes was a great success.

I found that I had quite a FLAIR for the game. I seemed to take to it naturally.

By the time our match was finished Simpson’s little footwear trouble was over and he was organizing a grand three-legged race.

“I think they are all enjoying it,” said Dahlia.

“They love it,” I said; “Thomas is perfectly happy making rounders.”

“But I meant the children. Don’t you think they love it too? The babies seem so happy with Myra. I suppose she’s telling them stories.”

“I think so. She’s got rather a good one about a bee. Oh, yes, they’re happy enough with her.”

“I hope they all had enough to eat at tea.”

“Allowing for a little natural shyness I think they did well. And I didn’t spill anything. Altogether it has been rather a success.”

Dahlia stood looking down at the children, young and old, playing in the field beneath her, and gave a sigh of happiness.

“Now,” she said, “I feel the house is REALLY warm.”


“Archie,” said Blair, “what’s that big empty room above the billiard-room for?”

“That,” said Archie, “is where we hide the corpses of our guests. I sleep with the key under my pillow.”

“This is rather sudden,” I said. “I’m not at all sure that I should have come if I had known that.”

“Don’t frighten them, dear; tell them the truth.”

“Well, the truth is,” said Archie, “that there was some idea of a little play-acting there occasionally. Hence the curtain-rod, the emergency exit and other devices.”

“Then why haven’t we done any? We came down here to open your house for you, and then you go and lock up the most important room of all, and sleep with the key under your pillow.”

“It’s too hot. But we’ll do a little charade to-night if you like–just to air the place.”

“Hooray,” said Myra, “I know a lovely word.”

Myra’s little word was in two syllables and required three performers. Archie and I were kindly included in her company. Simpson threatened to follow with something immense and archaic, and Thomas also had something rather good up his sleeve, but I am not going to bother you with these. One word will be enough for you.