Celia has more relations than would seem possible. I am gradually getting to know some them by sight and a few more by name, but I still make mistakes. The other day, for instance, she happened to say she was going to a concert with Uncle Godfrey.
“Godfrey,” I said, “Godfrey. No, don’t tell me–I shall get it in a moment. Godfrey … Yes, that’s it; he’s the architect. He lives at Liverpool, has five children, and sent us the asparagus-cooler as a wedding present.”
“No marks,” said Celia.
“Then he’s the unmarried one in Scotland who breeds terriers. I knew I should get it.”
“As a matter of fact he lives in London and breeds oratorios.”
“It’s the same idea. That was the one I meant. The great point is that I placed him. Now give me another one.” I leant forward eagerly.
“Well, I was just going to ask you–have you arranged anything about Monday?”
“Monday,” I said, “Monday. No, don’t tell me–I shall get it in a moment. Monday … He’s the one who—- Oh, you mean the day of the week?”
“Who’s a funny?” asked Celia of the teapot.
“Sorry; I really thought you meant another relation. What am I doing? I’m playing golf if I can find somebody to play with.”
“Well, ask Edward.”
I could place Edward at once. Edward, I need hardly say, is Celia’s uncle; one of the ones I have not yet met. He married a very young aunt of hers, not much older than Celia.
“But I don’t know him,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter. Write and ask him to meet you at the golf club. I’m sure he’d love to.”
“Wouldn’t he think it rather cool, this sudden attack from a perfectly unknown nephew? I fancy the first step ought to come from uncle.”
“But you’re older than he is.”
“True. It’s rather a tricky point in etiquette. Well, I’ll risk it.”
This was the letter I sent to him:–
“MY DEAR UNCLE EDWARD,–Why haven’t you written to me this term? I have spent the five shillings you gave me when I came back; it was awfully ripping of you to give it to me, but I have spent it now. Are you coming down to see me this term? If you aren’t you might write to me; there is a post-office here where you can change postal orders.
“What I really meant to say was, can you play golf with me on Monday at Mudbury Hill? I am your new and favourite nephew, and it is quite time we met. Be at the club-house at 2.30, if you can. I don’t quite know how we shall recognize each other, but the well-dressed man in the nut-brown suit will probably be me. My features are plain but good, except where I fell against the bath-taps yesterday. If you have fallen against anything which would give me a clue to your face you might let me know. Also you might let me know if you are a professor at golf; if you are, I will read some more books on the subject between now and Monday. Just at the moment my game is putrid.
“Your niece and my wife sends her love. Good-bye. I was top of my class in Latin last week. I must now stop, as it is my bath-night.
The next day I had a letter from my uncle:–
“MY DEAR NEPHEW,–I was so glad to get your nice little letter and to hear that you were working hard. Let me know when it is your bath-night again; these things always interest me. I shall be delighted to play golf with you on Monday. You will have no difficulty in recognizing me. I should describe myself roughly as something like Apollo and something like Little Tich, if you know what I mean. It depends how you come up to me. I am an excellent golfer and never take more than two putts in a bunker.
“Till 2.30 then. I enclose a postal-order for sixpence, to see you through the rest of the term.
“Your favourite uncle,
I showed it to Celia.
“Perhaps you could describe him more minutely,” I said. “I hate wandering about vaguely and asking everybody I see if he’s my uncle. It seems so odd.”
“You’re sure to meet all right,” said Celia confidently. “He’s–well, he’s nice-looking and–and clean-shaven–and, oh, you’ll recognize him.”
At 2.30 on Monday I arrived at the club-house and waited for my uncle. Various people appeared, but none seemed in want of a nephew. When 2.45 came there was still no available uncle. True, there was one unattached man reading in a corner of the smoke-room, but he had a moustache–the sort of heavy moustache one associates with a major.
At three o’clock I became desperate. After all, Celia had not seen Edward for some time. Perhaps he had grown a moustache lately; perhaps he had grown one specially for to-day. At any rate there would be no harm in asking this major man if he was my uncle. Even if he wasn’t he might give me a game of golf.
“Excuse me,” I said politely, “but are you by any chance my Uncle Edward?”
“I was almost certain you weren’t, but I thought I’d just ask. I’m sorry.”
“Not at all. Naturally one wants to find one’s uncle. Have you–er–lost him long?”
“Years,” I said sadly. “Er–I wonder if you would care to adopt me–I mean, give me a game this afternoon. My man hasn’t turned up.”
“By all means. I’m not very great.”
“Neither am I. Shall we start now? Good.”
I was sorry to miss Edward, but I wasn’t going to miss a game of golf on such a lovely day. My spirits rose. Not even the fact that there were no caddies left and I had to carry my own clubs could depress me.
The Major drove. I am not going to describe the whole game; though my cleek shot at the fifth hole, from a hanging lie to within two feet of the—- However, I mustn’t go into that now. But it surprised the Major a good deal. And when at the next hole I laid my brassie absolutely dead, he—- But I can tell you about that some other time. It is sufficient to say now that, when we reached the seventeenth tee, I was one up.
We both played the seventeenth well. He was a foot from the hole in four. I played my third from the edge of the green, and was ridiculously short, giving myself a twenty-foot putt for the hole. Leaving my clubs I went forward with the putter, and by the absurdest luck pushed the ball in.
“Good,” said the Major. “Your game.”
I went back for my clubs. When I turned round the Major was walking carelessly off to the next tee, leaving the flag lying on the green and my ball still in the tin.
“Slacker,” I said to myself, and walked up to the hole.
And then I had a terrible shock. I saw in the tin, not my ball, but a moustache!
“Am I going mad?” I said. “I could have sworn that I drove off with a ‘Colonel,’ and yet I seem to have holed out with a Major’s moustache!” I picked it up and hurried after him.
“Major,” I said, “excuse me, you’ve dropped your moustache. It fell off at the critical stage of the match; the shock of losing was too much for you; the strain of—-“
He turned his clean-shaven face round and grinned at me.
“On second thoughts,” he said, “I am your long-lost uncle.”
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