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The House-Warming
by [?]


“Oh, good-morning,” said Myra. She had added a hat and a sunshade to her evening-frock, and was supported by me in a gentleman’s lounge-coat and boater for Henley wear.

“Good-morning, mum,” said Archie, hitching up his apron and spreading his hands on the table in front of him.

“I just want this ribbon matched, please.”

“Certainly, mum. Won’t your little boy–I beg pardon, the old gentleman, take a seat too? What colour did you want the ribbon, mum?”

“The same colour as this,” I said. “Idiot.”

“Your grandfather is in a bit of a draught, I’m afraid, mum. It always stimulates the flow of language. My grandfather was just the same. I’m afraid, mum, we haven’t any ribbon as you might say the SAME colour as this.”

“If it’s very near it will do.”

“Now what colour would you call that?” wondered Archie, with his head on one side. “Kind of puce-like, I should put it at. Puce-magenta, as we say in the trade. No; we’re right out of puce- magenta.”

“Show the lady what you have got,” I said sternly.

“Well, mum, I’m right out of ribbon, altogether. The fact is I’m more of an ironmonger really. The draper’s is just the other side of the road. You wouldn’t like a garden-roller now? I can do you a nice garden-roller for two pound five, and that’s simply giving it away.”

“Oh, shall we have a nice roller?” said Myra eagerly.

“I’m not going to carry it home,” I said.

“That’s all right, sir. My little lad will take it up on his bicycle. Two pounds five, mum, and sixpence for the mouse-trap the gentleman’s been sitting on. Say three pounds.”

Myra took out her purse.


We were back in our ordinary clothes.

“I wonder if they guessed that,” said Archie.

“It was very easy,” said Myra. “I should have thought they’d have seen it at once.”

“But of course they’re not a very clever lot,” I explained. “That fellow with the spectacles–“

“Simpson his name is,” said Archie. “I know him well. He’s a professional golfer.”

“Well, he LOOKS learned enough. I expect he knows all right. But the others–“

“Do you think they knew that we were supposed to be in a shop?”

“Surely! Why, I should think even–What’s that man’s name over there? No; that one next to the pretty lady–ah, yes, Thomas. Is that Thomas, the wonderful cueist, by the way? Really! Well, I should think even Thomas guessed that much.”

“Why not do it over again to make sure?”

“Oh no, it was perfectly obvious. Let’s get on to the final scene.”

“I’m afraid that will give it away rather,” said Myra.

“I’m afraid so,” agreed Archie.


We sat on camp-stools and looked up at the ceiling with our mouths open.

“‘E’s late,” said Archie.

“I don’t believe ‘e’s coming, and I don’t mind ‘oo ‘ears me sye so,” said Myra. “So there!”

“‘Ot work,” I said, wiping my brow.

“Nar, not up there. Not ‘ot. Nice and breezy like.”

“But ‘e’s nearer the sun than wot we are, ain’t ‘e?”

“Ah, but ‘e’s not ‘ot. Not up there.”

“‘Ere, there ‘e is,” cried Myra, jumping up excitedly. “Over there. ‘Ow naow, it’s a bird. I declare I quite thought it was ‘im. Silly of me.”

There was silence for a little, and then Archie took a sandwich out of his pocket.

“Wunner wot they’ll invent next,” he said, and munched stolidly.

. . . . . . .

“Well done,” said Dahlia.

“Thomas and I have been trying to guess,” said Simpson, “but the strain is terrific. My first idea was ‘codfish,’ but I suppose that’s wrong. It’s either ‘silkworm’ or ‘wardrobe.’ Thomas suggests ‘mangel-wurzel.’ He says he never saw anybody who had so much the whole air of a wurzel as Archie. The indefinable elan of the wurzel was there.”

“Can’t you really guess?” said Myra eagerly.

“I don’t know whether I want you to or not. Oh no, I don’t want you to.”

“Then I withdraw ‘mangel-wurzel,'” said Simpson gallantly.