Miss Phipps said when it was a cucumber; but she was wrong. So were the others. See if you can be more successful.
“Yes, that’s very good,” said Captain Bolsover; “it reminds me of something which occurred during the Boer War.”
Everybody listened eagerly.
“We were just going into action, and I happened to turn round to my men and say, ’Now, then, boys, give ’em beans!’ To my amusement one of them replied smartly, ‘How many blue beans make five?’ We were all so interested in working it out that we never got into action at all.”
“But that’s easy,” said the Professor. “Five.”
“Four,” said Miss Phipps. (She would. Silly kid!)
“Six,” said the Squire.
Which was right?
Jack Ellison had been silent during the laughter and jollity, always such a feature of Happy-Thought Hall at Christmas-time, but now he contributed an ingenious puzzle to the amusement of the company.
“I met a man in a motor-’bus,” he said in a quiet voice, “who told me that he had four sons. The eldest son, Abraham, had a dog who used to go and visit the three brothers occasionally. The dog, my informant told me, was very unwilling to go over the same ground twice, and yet being in a hurry wished to take the shortest journey possible. How did he manage it?”
For a little while the company was puzzled. Then, after deep thought, the Professor said:
“It depends on where they lived.”
“Yes,” said Ellison. “I forgot to say that my acquaintance drew me a map.” He produced a paper from his pocket. “Here it is.”
The others immediately began to puzzle over the answer, Miss Phipps being unusually foolish, even for her. It was some time before they discovered the correct route. What do you think it is?
“Well,” said the Squire, with a hearty laugh, “it’s time for bed.”
One by one they filed off, saying what a delightful evening they had had. Jack Ellison was particularly emphatic, for the beautiful Miss Holden had promised to be his wife. He, for one, will never forget Christmas at Happy-Thought Hall.
THE ARRIVAL OF BLACKMAN’S WARBLER
I am become an Authority on Birds. It happened in this way.
The other day we heard the Cuckoo in Hampshire. (The next morning the papers announced that the Cuckoo had been heard in Devonshire—possibly a different one, but in no way superior to ours except in the matter of its Press agent.) Well, everybody in the house said, “Did you hear the Cuckoo?” to everybody else, until I began to get rather tired of it; and, having told everybody several times that I had heard it, I tried to make the conversation more interesting. So, after my tenth “Yes,” I added quite casually:
“But I haven’t heard the Tufted Pipit yet. It’s funny why it should be so late this year.”