Celia was going pale.
“But if it’s not you,” she faltered, “it will be somebody else.”
“No; if I refuse, it will be too late then to get a substitute. Besides, they must have tried everybody else before they got down to me... Celia it is noble of you to sacrifice—”
“Don’t go!” she cried in anguish.
I gave a deep sigh.
“For your sake,” I said, “I won’t.”
So that settles it. If my lecture on “First Principles in Homoeopathy” is ever to be delivered, it must be delivered elsewhere.
Before I introduce Bingo I must say a word for Humphrey, his sparring partner. Humphrey found himself on the top of my stocking last December, put there, I fancy, by Celia, though she says it was Father Christmas. He is a small yellow dog, with glass optics, and the label round his neck said, “His eyes move.” When I had finished the oranges and sweets and nuts, when Celia and I had pulled the crackers, Humphrey remained over to sit on the music-stool, with the air of one playing the pianola. In this position he found his uses. There are times when a husband may legitimately be annoyed; at these times it was pleasant to kick Humphrey off his stool on to the divan, to stand on the divan and kick him on to the sofa, to stand on the sofa and kick him on to the bookcase; and then, feeling another man, to replace him on the music-stool and apologize to Celia. It was thus that he lost his tail.
Here we say good-bye to Humphrey for the present; Bingo claims our attention. Bingo arrived as an absurd little black tub of puppiness, warranted (by a pedigree as long as your arm) to grow into a Pekinese. It was Celia’s idea to call him Bingo; because (a ridiculous reason) as a child she had had a poodle called Bingo. The less said about poodles the better; why rake up the past?
“If there is the slightest chance of Bingo—of this animal growing up into a poodle,” I said, “he leaves my house at once.”
“My poodle,” said Celia, “was a lovely dog.”
(Of course she was only a child then. She wouldn’t know.)
“The point is this,” I said firmly, “our puppy is meant for a Pekinese—the pedigree says so. From the look of him it will be touch and go whether he pulls it off. To call him by the name of a late poodle may just be the deciding factor. Now I hate poodles; I hate pet dogs. A Pekinese is not a pet dog; he is an undersized lion. Our puppy may grow into a small lion, or a mastiff, or anything like that; but I will not have him a poodle. If we call him Bingo, will you promise never to mention in his presence that you once had a—a—you know what I mean—called Bingo?”
She promised. I have forgiven her for having once loved a poodle. I beg you to forget about it. There is now only one Bingo, and he is a Pekinese puppy.
However, after we had decided to call him Bingo, a difficulty arose. Bingo’s pedigree is full of names like Li Hung Chang and Sun Yat Sen; had we chosen a sufficiently Chinese name for him? Apart from what was due to his ancestors, were we encouraging him enough to grow into a Pekinese? What was there Oriental about “Bingo”?