Warming by A. A. Milne
I.—WORK FOR ALL
"Well," said Dahlia, "what do you think of it?"
I knocked the ashes out of my after-breakfast pipe, arranged the
cushions of my deck-chair, and let my eyes wander lazily over the
house and its surroundings. After a year of hotels and other people's
houses, Dahlia and Archie had come into their own.
"I've no complaints," I said happily.
A vision of white and gold appeared in the doorway and glided over
the lawn toward us—Myra with a jug.
"None at all," said Simpson, sitting up eagerly.
"But Thomas isn't quite satisfied with one of the bathrooms, I'm
afraid. I heard him saying something in the passage about it this
morning when I was inside."
"I asked if you'd gone to sleep in the bath," explained Thomas.
"I hadn't. It is practically impossible, Thomas, to go to sleep in
a cold bath."
"Except, perhaps, for a Civil Servant," said Blair.
"Exactly. Of the practice in the Admiralty Thomas can tell us later
on. For myself I was at the window looking at the beautiful view."
"Why can't you look at it from your own window instead of keeping
people out of the bathroom?" grunted Thomas.
"Because the view from my room is an entirely different one."
"There is no stint in this house," Dahlia pointed out.
"No," said Simpson, jumping up excitedly.
Myra put the jug of cider down in front of us.
"There!" she said. "Please count it, and see that I haven't drunk
any on the way."
"This is awfully nice of you, Myra. And a complete surprise to all
of us except Simpson. We shall probably be here again to-morrow about
the same time."
There was a long silence, broken only by the extremely jolly sound
of liquid falling from a height.
Just as it was coming to an end Archie appeared suddenly among us
and dropped on the grass by the side of Dahlia. Simpson looked
guiltily at the empty jug, and then leant down to his host.
"TO-MORROW!" he said in a stage whisper. "ABOUT THE SAME TIME."
"I doubt it," said Archie.
"I know it for a fact," protested Simpson.
"I'm afraid Myra and Samuel made an assignation for this morning,"
"There's nothing in it, really," said Myra. "He's only trifling
with me. He doesn't mean anything."
Simpson buried his confused head in his glass, and proceeded to
change the subject.
"We all like your house, Archie," he said.
"We do," I agreed, "and we think it's very nice of you to ask us
down to open it."
"It is rather," said Archie.
"We are determined, therefore, to do all we can to give the house a
homey appearance. I did what I could for the bathroom this morning. I
flatter myself that the taint of newness has now been dispelled."
"I was sure it was you," said Myra. "How do you get the water right
up the walls?"
"Easily. Further, Archie, if you want any suggestions as to how to
improve the place, our ideas are at your disposal."
"For instance," said Thomas, "where do we play cricket?"
"By the way, you fellows," announced Simpson, "I've given up
We all looked at him in consternation.
"Do you mean you've given up BOWLING?" said Dahlia, with wide-open
"Aren't you ever going to walk to the wickets again?" asked Blair.
"Aren't you ever going to walk back to the pavilion again?" asked
"What will Montgomeryshire say?" wondered Myra in tones of awe.
"May I have your belt and your sand-shoes?" I begged.
"It's the cider," said Thomas. "I knew he was overdoing it."
Simpson fixed his glasses firmly on his nose and looked round at us
"I've given it up for golf," he observed.
"Traitor," said everyone.
"And the Triangular Tournament arranged for, and everything," added
"You could make a jolly little course round here," went on the
infatuated victim. "If you like, Archie, I'll—"
Archie stood up and made a speech.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "at 11.30 to-morrow precisely I
invite you to the paddock beyond the kitchen-garden."
"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.
II.—A GALA PERFORMANCE
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
"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
"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."
"Oh, but I do," said Dahlia eagerly. "Where is he?"
"We will track him down," announced Archie. "I will go to the
stables, unchain the truffle-hounds, and show them one of his
We found Simpson in the pig-sty. The third hole, as he was planning
it out for Archie, necessitated the carrying of the farm buildings,
which he described as a natural hazard. Unfortunately, his ball had
fallen into a casual pig-sty. It had not yet been decided whether the
ball could be picked out without penalty—the more immediate need
being to find the blessed thing. So Simpson was in the pig-sty,
"If you're looking for the old sow," I said, "there she is, just
"What's the local rule about loose pigs blown on to the course?"
"Oh, you fellows, there you are," said Simpson rapidly. "I'm
getting on first-rate. This is the third hole, Archie. It will be
rather good, I think; the green is just the other side of the pond. I
can make a very sporting little course."
"We've come to see your swing, Samuel," said Myra. "Can you do it
in there, or is it too crowded?"
"I'll come out. This ball's lost, I'm afraid."
"One of the little pigs will eat it," complained Archie, "and we
shall have indiarubber crackling."
Simpson came out and proceeded to give his display. Fortunately the
weather kept fine, the conditions indeed being all that could be
desired. The sun shone brightly, and there was a slight breeze from
the south which tempered the heat and in no way militated against the
general enjoyment. The performance was divided into two parts. The
first part consisted of Mr Simpson's swing WITHOUT the ball, the
second part being devoted to Mr Simpson's swing WITH the ball.
"This is my swing," said Simpson.
He settled himself ostentatiously into his stance and placed his
club-head stiffly on the ground three feet away from him.
"Middle," said Archie.
Simpson frowned and began to waggle his club. He waggled it
carefully a dozen times.
"It's a very nice swing," said Myra at the end of the ninth
movement, "but isn't it rather short?"
Simpson said nothing, but drew his club slowly and jerkily back,
twisting his body and keeping his eye fixed on an imaginary ball
until the back of his neck hid it from sight.
"You can see it better round this side now," suggested Archie.
"He'll split if he goes on," said Thomas anxiously.
"Watch this," I warned Myra. "He's going to pick a pin out of the
back of his calf with his teeth."
Then Simpson let himself go, finishing up in a very creditable knot
"That's quite good," said Dahlia. "Does it do as well when there's
"Well, I miss it sometimes, of course."
"We all do that," said Thomas.
Thus encouraged, Simpson put down a ball and began to address it.
It was apparent at once that the last address had been only his
telegraphic one; this was the genuine affair. After what seemed to be
four or five minutes there was a general feeling that some apology was
necessary. Simpson recognized this himself.
"I'm a little nervous," he said.
"Not so nervous as the pigs are," said Archie.
Simpson finished his address and got on to his swing. He swung. He
hit the ball. The ball, which seemed to have too much left-hand side
on it, whizzed off and disappeared into the pond. It sank....
Luckily the weather had held up till the last.
"Well, well," said Archie, "it's time for lunch. We have had a
riotous morning. Let's all take it easy this afternoon."
Sometimes I do a little work in the morning. Doctors are agreed now
that an occasional spell of work in the morning doesn't do me any
harm. My announcement at breakfast that this was one of the mornings
was greeted with a surprised enthusiasm which was most flattering.
Archie offered me his own room where he does his thinking; Simpson
offered me a nib; and Dahlia promised me a quiet time till lunch. I
thanked them all and settled down to work.
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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.
"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
"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
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
"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
"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."
IV.—A WORD IN SEASON
"Archie," said Blair, "what's that big empty room above the
"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.
"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,
"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-
"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
"Well, he LOOKS learned enough. I expect he knows all right. But
"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
"'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
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
"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
"Then I withdraw 'mangel-wurzel,'" said Simpson gallantly.
"I think I can guess," said Blair. "It's—"
"Whisper it," said Simpson. "I'm never going to know."
Blair whispered it.
"Yes," said Myra disappointedly, "that's it."
"Nine," said Archie, separating his latest victim from the
marmalade spoon and dropping it into the hot water. "This is going to
be a sanguinary day. With a pretty late cut into the peach jelly Mr A.
Mannering reached double figures. Ten. Battles are being won while
Thomas still sleeps. Any advance on ten?"
"Does that include MY wasp?" asked Myra.
"There are only ten here," said Archie, looking into the basin,
"and they're all mine. I remember them perfectly. What was yours
"Well, I didn't exactly kill him. I smacked him with a teaspoon and
asked him to go away. And he went on to your marmalade, so I expect
you thought he was yours. But it was really mine, and I don't think
it's very sporting of you to kill another person's wasp."
"Have one of mine," I said, pushing my plate across. "Have
Bernard—he's sitting on the green-gage."
"I don't really want to kill anything. I killed a rabbit once and I
wished I hadn't."
"I nearly killed a rabbit once, and I wished I had."
"Great sportsmen at a glance," said Archie. "Tell us about it
before it goes into your reminiscences."
"It was a fierce affair while it lasted. The rabbit was sitting
down and I was standing up, so that I rather had the advantage of him
at the start. I waited till he seemed to be asleep and then fired."
"And missed him?"
"Y-yes. He heard the report, though. I mean, you mustn't think he
ignored me altogether. I moved him. He got up and went away all
"A very lucky escape for you," said Archie. "I once knew a man who
was gored to death by an angry rabbit." He slashed in the air with
his napkin. "Fifteen. Dahlia, let's have breakfast indoors to-morrow.
This is very jolly but it's just as hot, and it doesn't get Thomas up
any earlier, as we hoped."
All that day we grilled in the heat. Myra and I started a game of
croquet in the morning, but after one shot each we agreed to abandon
it as a draw—slightly in my favour, because I had given her the
chipped mallet. And in the afternoon, Thomas and Simpson made a great
effort to get up enthusiasm for lawn-tennis. Each of them returned the
other's service into the net until the score stood at eight all, at
which point they suddenly realized that nothing but the violent death
of one of the competitors would ever end the match. They went on to
ten all to make sure, and then retired to the lemonade and wasp jug,
Simpson missing a couple of dead bodies by inches only. And after
dinner it was hotter than ever.
"The heat in my room," announced Archie, "breaks all records. The
thermometer says a hundred and fifty, the barometer says very dry,
we've had twenty-five hours' sunshine, and there's not a drop of rain
recorded in the soap-dish. Are we going to take this lying down?"
"No," said Thomas, "let's sleep out to-night."
"What do you say, Dahlia?"
"It's a good idea. You can all sleep on the croquet lawn, and Myra
and I will take the tennis lawn."
"Hadn't you better have the croquet lawn? Thomas walks in his
sleep, and we don't want to have him going through hoops all night."
"You'll have to bring down your own mattresses," went on Dahlia,
"and you've not got to walk about the garden in the early morning, at
least not until Myra and I are up, and if you're going to fall over
croquet hoops you mustn't make a noise. That's all the rules, I
"I'm glad we've got the tennis lawn," said Myra; "it's much
smoother. Do you prefer the right-hand court, dear, or the
"We shall be very close to Nature to-night," said Archie. "Now we
shall know whether it really is the nightjar, or Simpson gargling."
We were very close to Nature that night, but in the early morning
still closer. I was awakened by the noise of Simpson talking, as I
hoped, in his sleep. However, it appeared that he was awake and quite
conscious of the things he was saying.
"I can't help it," he explained to Archie, who had given expression
to the general opinion about it; "these bally wasps are all over me."
"It's your own fault," said Archie. "Why do you egg them on? I
don't have wasps all over ME."
"Conf—There! I've been stung."
"You've been what?"
"In the neck."
"In the neck?" Archie turned over to me. "Simpson," he said, "has
been stung in the neck. Tell Thomas."
I woke up Thomas. "Simpson," I said, "has been stung in the neck."
"Good," said Thomas, and went to sleep again.
"We've told Thomas," said Archie. "Now, are you satisfied?"
"Get away, you brute," shouted Simpson, suddenly, and dived under
Archie and I lay back and shouted with laughter.
"It's really very silly of him," said Archie, "because—go
away—because everybody knows that—get away, you ass—that wasps
aren't dangerous unless—confound you—unless—I say, isn't it time
we got up?"
I came up from under my sheet and looked at my watch.
"Four-thirty," I said, dodged a wasp, and went back again.
"We must wait till five-thirty," said Archie. "Simpson was quite
right; he WAS stung, after all. I'll tell him so."
He leant out of bed to tell him so, and then thought better of it
and retired beneath the sheets.
At five-thirty a gallant little party made its way to the house,
its mattresses over its shoulders.
"Gently," said Archie, as we came in sight of the tennis lawn.
We went very gently. There were only wasps on the tennis lawn, but
one does not want to disturb the little fellows.
VI.—A FINAL ARRANGEMENT
"Seeing that this is our last day together," began Archie—
"Oh, DON'T," said Myra. "I can't bear it."
"Seeing that this is our first day together, we might have a little
tournament of some kind, followed by a small distribution of prizes.
What do you think, Dahlia?"
"Well, I daresay I can find something."
"Any old thing that we don't want will do; nothing showy or
expensive. Victory is its own reward."
"Yes, but if there IS a pot of home-made marmalade going with it,"
I said, "so much the better."
"Dahlia, earmark the marmalade for this gentleman. Now, what's it
going to be? Golf, Simpson?"
"Why, of course," said Myra. "Hasn't he been getting it ready for
"That will give him an unfair advantage," I pointed out. "He knows
every single brick on the greens."
"Oh, I say, there aren't any greens yet," protested Simpson.
"That'll take a year or two. But I've marked out white circles and
you have to get inside them."
"I saw him doing that," said Archie. "I was afraid he expected us
to play prisoners' base with him."
The game fixed upon, we proceeded to draw for partners.
"You'll have to play with me, Archie," said Dahlia, "because I'm no
good at all."
"I shall have to play with Myra," I said, "because I'm no good at
"Oh, I'm very good," said Myra.
"That looks as though I should have to play with—" "Simpson,"
"Thomas," said Thomas and Simpson together.
"You're all giving me a lot of trouble," said Archie, putting his
pencil back in his pocket. "I've just written your names out neatly
on little bits of paper, and now they're all wasted. You'll have to
stick them on yourselves so that the spectators will know who you are
as you whizz past." He handed his bits of paper round and went in for
It was a stroke competition, and each couple went round by itself.
Myra and I started last.
"Now we've got to win this," she said, "because we shan't play
together again for a long time."
"That's a nice cheery thing to say to a person just when he's
driving. Now I shall have to address the ball all over again."
I addressed and despatched the ball. It struck a wall about eighty
yards away and dropped. When we got there we found to our disgust
that it was nestling at the very foot. Myra looked at it doubtfully.
"Can't you make it climb the wall?" I asked.
"We shall have to go back, I'm afraid. We can pretend we left our
She chipped it back about twenty yards, and I sent it on again
about a hundred. Unfortunately it landed in a rut. However Myra got it
out with great resource, and I was lucky enough with my next to place
it inside the magic circle.
"Five," I said. "You know, I don't think you're helping me much.
All you did that hole was to go twenty-one yards in the wrong
Myra smiled cheerfully at me and did the next hole in one. "Well
played, partner," she said, as he put her club back in its bag.
"Oh, at the short holes I don't deny that you're useful. Where do
we go now?"
"Over the barn. This is the long hole."
I got in an excellent drive, but unfortunately it didn't aviate
quick enough. While the intrepid spectators were still holding their
breath, there was an ominous crash.
"Did you say IN the barn or OVER the barn?" I asked, as we hurried
on to find the damage.
"We do play an exciting game, don't we?" said Myra.
We got into the barn and found the ball and a little glass on the
"What a very small hole it made," said Myra, pointing to the broken
pane. "What shall I do?"
"You'll have to go back through the hole. It's an awkward little
"I don't think I could."
"No, it IS rather a difficult stroke. You want to stand well behind
the ball, and—however, there may be a local rule about it."
"I don't think there is or I should have heard it. Samuel's been
telling me EVERYTHING lately."
"Then there's only one thing for it." I pointed to the window at
the other end of the barn. "Go straight on."
Myra gave a little gurgle of delight.
"But we shall have to save up our pocket-money," she said.
Her ball hit the wood in between two panes and bounded back. My
next shot was just above the glass. Myra took a niblick and got the
ball back into the middle of the floor.
"It's simply sickening that we can't break a window when we're
really trying to. I should have thought that anyone could have broken
a window. Now then."
"Oh, good SHOT!" cried Myra above the crash. We hurried out and did
the hole in nine.
At lunch, having completed eighteen holes out of the thirty-six, we
were seven strokes behind the leaders, Simpson and Thomas. Simpson,
according to Thomas, had been playing like a book. Golf Faults
Analysed—that book, I should think.
"But I expect he'll go to pieces in the afternoon," said Thomas. He
turned to a servant and added, "Mr Simpson won't have anything more."
We started our second round brilliantly; continued (after an
unusual incident on the fifth tee) brilliantly; and ended up
brilliantly. At the last tee we had played a hundred and thirty-seven.
Myra got in a beautiful drive to within fifty yards of the circle.
"How many?" said the others, coming up excitedly.
"This is terrible," said Myra, putting her hand to her heart. "A
hundred and—shall I tell them?—a—a—Oh,
"Golly," said Thomas, "you've got one for it. We did a hundred and
"We did a hundred and forty-two," said Archie. "Close play at the
"Oh," said Myra to me, "DO be careful. Oh, but no," she went on
quickly, "I don't mind a bit really if we lose. It's only a game.
"You forget the little pot of home-made marmalade," I said
reproachfully. "Dahlia, what ARE the prizes? Because it's just
possible that Myra might like the second one better than the first.
In that case I should miss this."
"Go on," whispered Myra.
I went on. There was a moment's silence—and then a deep sigh from
"How about it?" I said calmly.
"Well," said Dahlia, "you and Myra make a very good couple. I
suppose I must find a prize for you."
"It doesn't really matter," said Myra breathlessly, "because on the
fifth tee we—we arranged about the prizes."
"We arranged to give each other one," I said, smiling at Dahlia.
Dahlia looked very hard at us.
"You DON'T mean—?"
Myra laughed happily.
"Oh," she said, "but that's just what we do."