shy;flipperty—flipperty—growing fainter in the distance ... until it arrives at some wonderland of its own. One day it must happen so. For we cannot listen always for that FLOP, and hear it always; nothing in this world is as inevitable as that. One day we shall look at each other with awe in our faces and say, “But it’s still flipperting!” and from that time forward the Hill of Campden will be a place holy and enchanted. Perhaps on Midsummer Eve—
At any rate I am sure that it is the only way in which to post a letter to Father Christmas.
Well, what I want to say is this: if I have been a bad correspondent in the past I am a good one now; and Celia, who was always a good one, is a better one. It takes at least ten letters a day to satisfy us, and we prefer to catch ten different posts. With the ten in your hand together there is always a temptation to waste them in one wild rush of flipperties, all catching each other up. It would be a great moment, but I do not think we can afford it yet; we must wait until we get more practised at letter-writing. And even then I am doubtful; for it might be that, lost in the confusion of that one wild rush, the magic letter would start on its way—flipperty—flipperty—to the never-land, and we should forever have missed it.
So, friends, acquaintances, yes, and even strangers, I beg you now to give me another chance. I will answer your letters, how gladly. I still think that Napoleon (or Canute or the younger Pliny—one of the pre-Raphaelites) took a perfectly correct view of his correspondence ... but then he never had a letter-box which went
Flipperty—flipperty—flipperty—flipperty flipperty—flipperty—flipperty—flipperty—flipperty flipperty—FLOP.
Every now and then doctors slap me about and ask me if I was always as thin as this.
“As thin as what?” I say with as much dignity as is possible to a man who has had his shirt taken away from him.
“As thin as this,” says the doctor, hooking his stethoscope on to one of my ribs, and then going round to the other side to see how I am getting on there.
I am slightly better on the other side, but he runs his pencil up and down me and produces that pleasing noise which small boys get by dragging a stick along railings.
I explain that I was always delicately slender, but that latterly my ribs have been overdoing it.
“You must put on more flesh,” he says sternly, running his pencil up and down them again. (He must have been a great nuisance as a small boy.)
“I will,” I say fervently, “I will.”
Satisfied by my promise he gives me back my shirt.