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- The Holiday Round - 6/53 -


"I like the way girls talk in the sea," said Archie. "So direct."

"What is there about our Myra," I asked, "that stamps her as a cricketer, even when she's only got her head above water?"

"She'd seen me on land, silly. Well, we went on talking, and at last she said, 'Will you play us at mixed cricket on Saturday?' And a big wave came along and went inside me just as I was saying yes."

"Hooray! Myra, your health."

"We're only six, though," added Archie. "Didn't you swim up against anybody else who looked like a cricketer and might play for us?"

"But we can easily pick up five people by Saturday," said Myra confidently. "And oh, I do hope we're in form; we haven't played for years."

. . . . . . .

We lost the toss, and Myra led her team out on to the field. The last five places in the eleven had been filled with care: a preparatory school-boy and his little sister (found by Dahlia on the beach), Miss Debenham (found by Simpson on the road with a punctured bicycle), Mrs Oakley (found by Archie at the station and re-discovered by Myra in the Channel), and Sarah, a jolly girl of sixteen (found by me and Thomas in the tobacconist's, where she was buying The Sportsman).

"Where would you all like to field?" asked the captain.

"Let's stand round in groups, just at the start, and then see where we're wanted. Who's going to bowl?"

"Me and Samuel. I wonder if I dare bowl over-hand."

"I'm going to," said Simpson.

"You can't, not with your left hand."

"Why not? Hirst does."

"Then I shan't field point," said Thomas with decision.

However, as it happened, it was short leg who received the first two balls, beautiful swerving wides, while the next two were well caught and returned by third man. Simpson's range being thus established, he made a determined attack on the over proper with lobs, and managed to wipe off half of it. Encouraged by this, he returned with such success to overhand that the very next ball got into the analysis, the batsman reaching out and hitting it over the hedge for six. Two more range-finders followed before Simpson scored another dot with a sneak; and then, at what should have been the last ball, a tragedy occurred.

"Wide," said the umpire.

"But--but I was b-bowling UNDERHAND," stammered Simpson.

"Now you've nothing to fall back on," I pointed out.

Simpson considered the new situation. "Then you fellows can't mind if I go on with overhand," he said joyfully, and he played his twelfth.

It was the batsman's own fault. Like a true gentleman he went after the ball, caught it up near point, and hit it hard in the direction of cover. Sarah shot up a hand unconcernedly.

"One for six," said Simpson, and went over to Miss Debenham to explain how he did it.

"He must come off," said Archie. "We have a reputation to keep up. It's his left hand, of course, but we can't go round to all the spectators and explain that he can really bowl quite decent long hops with his right."

In the next over nothing much happened, except that Miss Debenham missed a sitter. Subsequently Simpson caught her eye from another part of the field, and explained telegraphically to her how she should have drawn her hands in to receive the ball. The third over was entrusted to Sarah.

"So far," said Dahlia, half an hour later, "the Rabbits have not shone. Sarah is doing it all."

"Hang it, Dahlia, Thomas and I discovered the child. Give the credit where it is due."

"Well, why don't you put my Bobby on, then? Boys are allowed to play right-handed, you know."

So Bobby went on, and with Sarah's help finished off the innings.

"Jolly good rot," he said to Simpson, "you're having to bowl left-handed."

"My dear Robert," I said, "Mr Simpson is a natural base-ball pitcher, he has an acquired swerve at bandy, and he is a lepidopterist of considerable charm. But he can't bowl with either hand."

"Coo!" said Bobby.

The allies came out even more strongly when we went in to bat. I was the only Rabbit who made ten, and my whole innings was played in an atmosphere of suspicion very trying to a sensitive man. Mrs Oakley was in when I took guard, and I played out the over with great care, being morally bowled by every ball. At the end of it a horrible thought occurred to me: I had been batting right-handed! Naturally I changed round for my next ball. (Movements of surprise.)

"Hallo," said the wicket-keeper, "I thought you were left-handed; why aren't you playing right?"

"No, I'm really right-handed," I said. "I played that way by mistake just now. Sorry."

He grunted sceptically, and the bowler came up to have things explained to her. The next ball I hit left-handed for six. (LOUD MUTTERS.)

"Is he really right-handed?" the bowler asked Mrs Oakley.

"I don't know," she said, "I've never seen him before." (SENSATION.)

"I think, if you don't mind, we'd rather you played right-handed."

"Certainly." The next ball was a full pitch, and I took a right-handed six. There was an awful hush. I looked round at the field and prepared to run for it. I felt that they suspected me of all the undiscovered crimes of the year.

"Look here," I said, nearly crying, "I'll play any way you like--sideways, or upside down, or hanging on to the branch of a tree, or--"

The atmosphere was too much for me. I trod on my wickets, burst into tears, and bolted to the tent.

. . . . . . .

"Well," said Dahlia, "we won."

"Yes," we all agreed, "we won."

"Even if we didn't do much of it ourselves," Simpson pointed out, "we had jolly good fun."

"We always have THAT," said Myra.

THE HOUSE-WARMING

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.


The Holiday Round - 6/53

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