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The Same Old Story
by [?]

“I’ve got the very word,” I said. “It’s ‘hallo.’ You see, it’s a pleasant form of greeting to any stranger, and it will go perfectly with the next word that she’s taught, whatever it may be.”

“Supposing it’s ‘wardrobe,'” suggested Reggie, “or ‘sardine’?”

“Why not? ‘Hallo, Sardine’ is the perfect title for a revue. Witty, subtle, neat–probably the great brain of the Revue King has already evolved it, and is planning the opening scene.”

“Yes, ‘hallo’ isn’t at all bad,” said Mr. Atherley. “Anyway, it’s better than ‘Poor Polly,’ which is simply morbid. Let’s fix on ‘hallo.'”

“Good,” said Mrs. Atherley.

Evangeline said nothing, being asleep under her blanket.

. . . . .

I was down first next morning, having forgotten to wind up my watch overnight. Longing for company, I took the blanket off Evangeline’s cage and introduced her to the world again. She stirred sleepily, opened her eyes and blinked at me.

“Hallo, Evangeline,” I said.

She made no reply.

Suddenly a splendid scheme occurred to me. I would teach Evangeline her word now. How it would surprise the others when they came down and said “Hallo” to her, to find themselves promptly answered back!

“Evangeline,” I said, “listen. Hallo, hallo, hallo, hallo.” I stopped a moment and went on more slowly. “Hallo–hallo–hallo.”

It was dull work.

“Hallo,” I said, “hallo–hallo–hallo,” and then very distinctly, “Hal-lo.”

Evangeline looked at me with an utterly bored face.

“Hallo,” I said, “hallo–hallo.”

She picked up a monkey-nut and ate it languidly.

“Hallo,” I went on, “hallo, hallo … hallo, hallo, HALLO, HALLO … hallo, hallo—-“

She dropped her nut and roused herself for a moment.

“Number engaged,” she snapped, and took another nut.

. . . . .

You needn’t believe this. The others didn’t when I told them.