Something like that I would say; and it might happen that an insufferable guest (who never got asked again) would object that the hymn part was unusual in real warfare.
“They sang it in this piece, anyhow,” I would say stiffly, and turn my back on him and begin.
But the war put a stop to music, as to many other things. For years the pianola was not played by either of us. We had other things to do. And in our case, curiously enough, absence from the pianola did not make the heart grow fonder. On the contrary, we seemed to lose our taste for music, and when at last we were restored to our pianola, we found that we had grown out of it.
“It’s very ugly,” announced Celia.
“We can’t help our looks,” I said in my grandmother’s voice.
“A book-case would be much prettier there.”
“But not so tuneful.”
“A pianola isn’t tuneful if you never play it.”
“True,” I said.
Celia then became very alluring, and suggested that I might find somebody who would like to be lent a delightful pianola by somebody whose “I put in ‘The Charge of the Uhlans,’” I said, “and it played ’God Save the King.’”
Unfortunately he was a very patriotic man, and he believed it. So that is how the story is now going about. But you who read this know the real truth of the matter.
A QUESTION OF LIGHT
As soon as Celia had got a cheque-book of her own (and I had explained the mysteries of “—— & Co.” to her), she looked round for a safe investment of her balance, which amounted to several pounds. My offers, first of an old stocking and afterwards of mines, mortgages and aerated breads, were rejected at once.
“I’ll leave a little in the bank in case of accidents,” she said, “and the rest must go somewhere absolutely safe and earn me five per cent. Otherwise they shan’t have it.”
We did what we could for her; we offered the money to archdeacons and other men of pronounced probity; and finally we invested it in the Blanktown Electric Light Company. Blanktown is not its real name, of course; but I do not like to let out any information which may be of value to Celia’s enemies—the wicked ones who are trying to snatch her little fortune from her. The world, we feel, is a dangerous place for a young woman with money.
“Can’t I possibly lose it now?” she asked.
“Only in two ways,” I said. “Blanktown might disappear in the night, or the inhabitants might give up using electric light.”
It seemed safe enough. At the same time we watched the newspapers anxiously for details of the latest inventions; and anybody who happened to mention when dining with us that he was experimenting with a new and powerful illuminant was handed his hat at once.
You have Blanktown, then, as the depository of Celia’s fortune. Now it comes on the scene in another guise. I made the announcement with some pride at breakfast yesterday.