Summer Cold by A. A. Milne
WHEN I am not feeling very well I go to Beatrice for sympathy and
advice. Anyhow I get the advice.
"I think," I said carelessly, wishing to break it to her as gently
as possible, "I think I have hay-fever."
"Nonsense," said Beatrice.
That annoyed me. Why shouldn't I have hay-fever if I wanted to?
"If you're going to begrudge me every little thing," I began.
"You haven't even got a cold."
As luck would have it a sneeze chose that moment for its arrival.
"There!" I said triumphantly.
"Why, my dear boy, if you had hay-fever you'd be sneezing all day."
"That was only a sample. There are lots more where that came from."
"Don't be so silly. Fancy starting hay-fever in September."
"I'm not starting it. I am, I earnestly hope, just finishing it. If
you want to know, I've had a cold all the summer."
"Well, I haven't noticed it."
"That's because I'm such a good actor. I've been playing the part
of a man who hasn't had a cold all the summer. My performance is
considered to be most life-like."
Beatrice disdained to answer, and by and by I sneezed again.
"You certainly have a cold," she said, putting down her work.
"Come, this is something."
"You must be careful. How did you catch it?"
"I didn't catch it. It caught me."
"No, last May."
Beatrice picked up her work again impatiently. I sneezed a third
"Is this more the sort of thing you want?" I said.
"What I say is that you couldn't have had hay-fever all the summer
without people knowing."
"But, my dear Beatrice, people do know. In this quiet little suburb
you are rather out of the way of the busy world. Rumours of war,
depressions on the Stock Exchange, my hay-fever—these things pass
you by. But the clubs are full of it. I assure you that, all over the
country, England's stately homes have been plunged into mourning by
the news of my sufferings, historic piles have bowed their heads and
"I suppose you mean that in every house you've been to this summer
you've told them that you had it, and they've been foolish enough to
"That's putting it a little crudely. What happens is—"
"Well, all I can say is, you know a very silly lot of people."
"What happens is that when the mahogany has been cleared of its
polished silver and choice napery, and wine of a rare old vintage is
circulating from hand to hand—"
"If they wanted to take any notice of you at all, they could have
given you a bread poultice and sent you to bed."
"Then, as we impatiently bite the ends off our priceless Havanas—"
"They might know that you couldn't possibly have hay-fever."
I sat up suddenly and spoke to Beatrice.
"Why on earth SHOULDN'T I have hay-fever?" I demanded. "Have you
any idea what hay-fever is? I suppose you think I ought to be running
about wildly, trying to eat hay—or yapping and showing an
unaccountable aversion from dried grass? I take it that there are
grades of hay-fever, as there are of everything else. I have it at
present in a mild form. Instead of being thankful that it is no
"My dear boy, hay-fever is a thing people have all their lives, and
it comes on every summer. You've never even pretended to have it
before this year."
"Yes, but you must start SOME time. I'm a little backward, perhaps.
Just because there are a few infant prodigies about, don't despise
me. In a year or two I shall be as regular as the rest of them." And
I sneezed again.
Beatrice got up with an air of decision and left the room. For a
moment I thought she was angry and had gone for a policeman, but as
the minutes went by and she didn't return I began to fear that she
might have left the house for good. I was wondering how I should
break the news to her husband when, to my relief, she came in again.
"You may be right," she said, putting down a small package and
unpinning her hat. "Try this. The chemist says it's the best
hay-fever cure there is."
"It's in a lot of languages," I said as I took the wrapper off. "I
suppose German hay is the same as any other sort of hay? Oh, here it
is in English. I say, this is a what-d'-you-call-it cure."
"So the man said."
"Homeopathic. It's made from the pollen that causes hay-fever. Yes.
Ah, yes." I coughed slightly and looked at Beatrice out of the corner
of my eye. "I suppose," I said carelessly, "if anybody took this who
HADN'T got hay-fever, the results might be rather—I mean that he
might then find that he-in fact, er—HAD got it."
"Sure to," said Beatrice.
"Yes. That makes us a little thoughtful; we don't want to over-do
this thing." I went on reading the instructions. "You know, it's
rather odd about my hay-fever—it's generally worse in town than in
"But then you started so late, dear. You haven't really got into
the swing of it yet."
"Yes, but still—you know, I have my doubts about the gentleman who
invented this. We don't see eye to eye in this matter. Beatrice, you
may be right—perhaps I haven't got hay-fever."
"Oh, don't give up."
"But all the same I know I've got something. It's a funny thing
about my being worse in town than in the country. That looks rather
as if—By Jove, I know what it is—I've got just the opposite of
"What is the opposite of hay?"
"Why, bricks and things."
I gave a last sneeze and began to wrap up the cure.
"Take this pollen stuff back," I said to Beatrice, "and ask the man
if he's got anything homoeopathic made from paving-stones. Because,
you know, that's what I really want."
"You HAVE got a cold," said Beatrice.
A MODERN CINDERELLA
ONCE upon a time there was a beautiful girl who lived in a mansion
in Park Lane with her mother and her two sisters and a crowd of
servants. Cinderella, for that was her name, would have dearly loved
to have employed herself about the house sometimes; but whenever she
did anything useful, like arranging the flowers or giving the pug a
bath, her mother used to say, "Cinderella! What DO you think I engage
servants for? Please don't make yourself so common."
Cinderella's two sisters were much older and plainer than herself,
and their mother had almost given up hope about them, but she used to
drag Cinderella to balls and dances night after night, taking care
that only the right sort of person was introduced to her. There were
many nights when Cinderella would have preferred a book at home in
front of the fire, for she soon found that her partners' ideas of
waltzing were as catholic as their conversation was limited. It was,
indeed, this fondness for the inglenook that had earned her the name
One day, when she was in the middle of a delightful story, her
mother came in suddenly and cried:
"Cinderella! Why aren't you resting, as I told you? You know we are
going to the Hogbins' to-night."
"Oh, mother," pleaded Cinderella, "NEED I go to the dance?"
"Don't be so absurd! Of course you're going!"
"But I've got nothing to wear."
"I've told Jennings what you're to wear. Now go and lie down. I
want you to look your best to-night, because I hear that young Mr
Hogbin is back again from Australia." Young Mr Hogbin was not the
King's son; he was the son of a wealthy gelatine manufacturer.
"Then may I come away at twelve?" begged Cinderella.
"You'll come away when I tell you."
Cinderella made a face and went upstairs. "Oh, dear," she thought
to herself, "I wish I were as old as my two sisters, and could do what
I liked. I'm sure if my godmother were here she would get me off
going." But, alas! her godmother lived at Leamington, and Cinderella,
after a week at Leamington, had left her there only yesterday.
Cinderella indeed looked beautiful as they started for the ball;
but her mother, who held a review of her in the drawing-room, was not
"Cinderella!" she said. "You know I said you were to wear the
"Oh, mother, they ARE so tight," pleaded Cinderella. "Don't you
remember I told you at the time they were much too small for me?"
"Nonsense. Go and put them on at once."
The dance was in full swing when Cinderella arrived. Although her
lovely appearance caused several of the guests to look at her, they
did not ask each other eagerly who she was, for most of them knew her
already as Miss Partington-Smith. A brewer's son led her off to dance.
The night wore on slowly. One young man after another trod on
Cinderella's toes, trotted in circles round her, ran her violently
backwards into some other man, or swooped with her into the
fireplace. Cinderella, whose feet seemed mechanically to adapt
themselves to the interpretation of the Boston that was forming in
her partner's brain, bore it from each one as long as she could; and
then led the way to a quiet corner, where she confessed frankly that
she had NOT bought all her Christmas presents yet, and that she WAS
going to Switzerland for the winter.
The gelatine manufacturer's son took her in to supper. It was
noticed that Cinderella looked much happier as soon as they had sat
down, and indeed throughout the meal she was in the highest spirits.
For some reason or other she seemed to find even Mr Hogbin endurable.
But just as they were about to return to the ball-room an expression
of absolute dismay came over her face.
"Anything the matter?" said her partner.
"N—no," said Cinderella; but she made no effort to move.
"Well, shall we come?"
She waited a moment longer, dropped her fan under the table, picked
it up slowly, and followed him out.
"Let's sit down here," she said in the hall; "not upstairs."
They sat in silence; for he had exhausted his stock of questions at
the end of their first dance, and had told her all about Australia
during supper; while she apparently had no desire for conversation of
any kind, being wrapped up in her thoughts.
"I'll wait here," she said, as a dance began. "If you see mother, I
wish you'd send her to me."
Her mother came up eagerly.
"Well, dear?" she said.
"Mother," said Cinderella, "do take me home at once. Something
extraordinary has happened."
"It's young Mr Hogbin! I knew it!"
"Who? Oh—er—yes, of course. I'll tell you all about it in the
"Is my little girl going to be happy?"
"I don't know," said Cinderella anxiously. "There's just a chance."
The chance must have come off, for, once in the carriage,
Cinderella gave a deep sigh of happiness.
"Well, dear?" said her mother again.
"You'll NEVER guess, mother," laughed Cinderella. "Try."
"I guess that my little daughter thinks of running away from me,"
said her mother archly. "Am I right?"
"Oh, how lovely! Why, running away is simply the LAST thing I could
do. Look!" She stretched out her foot-clothed only in a pale blue
"I TOLD you they were too tight," she explained rapidly, "and I was
trodden on by every man in the place, and I simply HAD to kick them
off at supper, and—and I only got one back. I don't know what
happened to the other; I suppose it got pushed along somewhere, but,
anyhow, I wasn't going under the table after it." She laughed
suddenly and softly to herself. "I wonder what they'll do when they
find the slipper?" she said.
. . . . . . . .
Of course the King's son (or anyhow, Mr Hogbin) ought to have sent
it round to all the ladies in Mayfair, taking knightly oath to marry
her whom it fitted. But what actually happened was that a footman
found it, and, being very sentimental and knowing that nobody would
ever dare to claim it, carried it about with him ever
afterwards—thereby gaining a great reputation with his cronies as a
Oh, and by the way—I ought to put in a good word for the
godmother. She did her best.
"Cinderella!" said her mother at lunch next day, as she looked up
from her letters. "Why didn't you tell me your godmother was ill?"
"She wasn't very well when I left her, but I didn't think it was
anything much. Is she bad? I AM sorry."
"She writes that she has obtained measles. I suppose that means
YOU'RE infectious. Really, it's very inconvenient. Well, I'm glad we
didn't know yesterday or you couldn't have gone to the dance."
"Dear fairy godmother!" said Cinderella to herself. "She was a day
too late, but how sweet of her to think of it at all!"