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[Illustration: THE MAN YOU GIVE A GAME TO.]
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[Illustration: “RIGHT-O. IF YER WANTS A FIGHT I’M READY. AN’ AS WE’VE ONLY ONE PAIR O’ GLOVES, AN’ YOU’RE THE YOUNGEST, I’LL BE A SPORT AN’ LET YOU WEAR ’EM.”]
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THE MYSTERY OF THE APPLE-PIE BEDS.
(Leaves from a holiday diary.)
An outrage has occurred in the hotel. Late on Monday night ten innocent visitors discovered themselves the possessors of apple-pie beds. The beds were not of the offensive hair-brush variety, but they were very cleverly constructed, the under-sheet being pulled up in the good old way and turned over at the top as if it were the top-sheet.
I had one myself. The lights go out at eleven and I got into bed in the dark. When one is very old and has not been to school for a long time or had an apple-pie bed for longer still, there is something very uncanny in the sensation, especially if it is dark. I did not like it at all. My young brother-in-law, Denys, laughed immoderately in the other bed at my flounderings and imprecations. He did not have one. I suspect him....
Naturally the hotel is very much excited. It is the most thrilling event since the mixed foursomes. Nothing else has been discussed since breakfast. Ten people had beds and about ten people are suspected. The really extraordinary thing is that numbers of people seem to suspect me! That is the worst of being a professional humourist; everything is put down to you. When I was accompanying Mrs. F. to-day she suddenly stopped fiddling and said hotly that someone had been tampering with her violin. I know she suspected me. Fortunately, however, I have a very good answer to this apple-pie bed charge. Eric says that his bed must have been done after dinner, and I was to be seen at the dance in the lounge all the evening. I have an alibi.
Besides I had a bed myself; surely they don’t believe that even a professional humourist could be so bursting with humour as to make himself an apple-pie bed and not make one for his brother-in-law in the same room! It would be too much like overtime.
But they say that only shows my cleverness....
Then there is the question of the Barkers. Most of the victims were young people, who could not possibly mind. But the Barkers had two, and the Barkers are a respected middle-aged couple, and nobody could possibly make them apple-pie beds who did not know them very well. That shows you it can’t have been me—I—me—that shows you I couldn’t have done it. I have only spoken to them once.
They say Mr. Barker was rather annoyed. He has rheumatism and went to bed early. Mrs. Barker discovered about her bed before she got in, but she didn’t let on. She put out the candle and allowed her lord to get into his apple-pie in the dark. I think I shall like her.