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Happy Days

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When Margery was three months old I wrote a letter to her mother:

Dear Madam,—If you have a copy in Class D at 1/10d. net, I shall be glad to hear from you. I am, The Baby's Uncle.

On Tuesday I got an answer by the morning post:

Dear Sir,—In reply to yours: How dare you insult my child? She is in Class A1, priceless and bought in by the owner. Four months old (and two days) on Christmas Day. Fancy! I am, The Baby's Mother.

Margery had been getting into an expensive way of celebrating her birthday every week. Hitherto I had ignored it. But now I wrote:

Dear Madam,—Automatically your baby should be in Class D by now. I cannot understand why it is not so. Perhaps I shall hear from you later on with regard to this. Meanwhile I think that the extraordinary coincidence (all but two days) of the baby's birthday with Christmas Day calls for some recognition on my part. What would Margery like? You, who are in constant communication with her, should be able to tell me. I hear coral necklaces well spoken of. What do you think? I remember reading once of a robber who "killed a little baby for the coral on its neck"—which shows at any rate that they are worn. Do you know how coral reefs are made? It is a most fascinating business.Then there is a silver mug to be considered. The only thing you can drink out of a mug is beer; yet it is a popular present. Perhaps you, with your (supposed) greater knowledge of babies, will explain this. Meanwhile, I am, The Baby's Uncle.P.S.—Which is a much finer thing than a mother.

To which her mother:

My Dear Boy,—It is too sweet of you to say you would like to get Baby something. No, I don't know how coral reefs are made, and don't want to. I think it is wicked of you to talk like that; I'm sure I shan't dare let her wear anything valuable now. And I don't think she really wants a mug.I'm sure I don't know what she does want, except to see her uncle (There!) but it ought to be something that she'll value when she grows up. And of course we could keep it for her in the meantime.Her Father has smoked his last cigar to-day. Isn't it awful? I have forbidden him to waste his money on any more, but he says he must give me 500 for a Christmas present. If he does, I shall give him that sideboard that I want so badly, and then we shall both go to prison together. You will look after Baby, won't you? I am, The Baby's Mother.P.S.—Which she isn't proud, but does think it's a little bit classier than an uncle.

And so finally, I:

Dear Child,—I've thought of the very thing. I am,The Baby's Uncle.

That ends Chapter I. Here we go on to


Chapter II finds me in the Toy Department of the Stores. "I want," I said, "a present for a child."

"Yes, sir. About how old?"

"It must be quite new," I said sternly. "Don't be silly. Oh, I see; well, the child is only a baby."

"Ah, yes. Now here—if it's at all fond of animals——"

"I say, you mustn't call it 'IT.' I get in an awful row if I do....