Dulcimer Street

Dulcimer Street

Dulcimer Street

Dulcimer Street

Excerpt

It was four-thirty P.M. Four-thirty on Friday, the 24th of December, 1938.

They hadn't done very much work in the office that afternoon because in their various ways they had all been getting ready to celebrate. Bethlehem now brooded encouragingly over London. And Mr. Battlebury in his enormous greatcoat which looked as though it were lined with bearskin at least, had gone off importantly in a taxi at ten-minutes-to-one, and had not got back until after three. In the interval he had visited Fortnum's in Piccadilly where he had bought a large box of crystallized fruit not because he, or anyone else in his family, particularly liked crystallized fruit but because it had been there on the counter and he was in the mood for buying things. After that he had visited the Goldsmiths' and Silversmiths' Company in Regent Street where he had bought Mrs. Battlebury a pair of small diamond clips to go with the crystallized fruit. And making his way through the crowds towards Oxford Circus-- it seemed, as it always did on Christmas Eve, that the whole idea of Christmas had taken most people entirely by surprise, and they were now shopping frantically in an effort to catch up with it--he had gone into Hamley's to buy a drawing-room conjuring set that was to convert Robert Battlebury, junior, into an astonishingly adept but rather boring amateur Maskelyne for a few weeks--after which the magic eggcups and disappearing handkerchiefs would be put away forever, and forgotten.

Finally, Mr. Battlebury had dropped into Scott's for a dozen six-and- sixpenny oysters and had ordered a bottle of hock to go with them-- which is why he arrived back in Creek Lane, E.C.2, carrying his gaily-

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