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WAR SHOPPING 



pRMENTRUDE arrived from town 
^ with a multitude of parcels. " I went 
to the stores," she explained, "and got 
everything we wanted; it was no good 
trusting them to send them anything, so 
I put them all in a taxi and took them off, 
so here is everything. There is the note- 
paper and the soap and the dish cloths 
and — heaps of things, I can't remember 
half of them." 

"And what about the go-cart?" I 
asked. (We are going to give Charlie a 
go-cart for his birthday.) 

"Oh," said Ermentrude, "they prom- 
ised faithfully to send it to the station to 
meet me in time to catch the 5.15, but, 
of course, it never came, although I 
waited about until the last moment." 
x"And the bill?" 

"The bill! Oh, I suppose they will 
send that, won't they? I didn't pay 
anything, if that is what you mean." 

Being a very methodical man, I imme- 
diately wrote off the following letter to 
the manager of the Circus Stores: 

"Dear Sir, — My wife purchased some 
things from you on the 12th inst. As 
she IS not quite sure what the account 
came to, I should be glad if you would 
send me a detailed statement of the va- 
rious items, on receipt of which I will 
forward you a cheque. — Yours truly, 

"C. Manley." 

" P.S. — ^The go-cart which my wife said 
you promised faithfully to send to Euston 
to meet her did not turn up. — C. M." 

To this the Circus Stores Ltd. replied 
briefly: 

"To account rendered.. . .£4. 15s. iid." 

I wrote again, and asked if they would 
kindly oblige by sending a detailed ac- 



count, so that I might know for what I 
was paying. I also asked again what had 
happened to the go-cart. 

This elicited a reply, still brief, but a 
little fuller than the last. It ran thus: 

"To account rendered £4. 15s. iid. 

"A cheque will oblige." 

I wrote a third time, asking for a de- 
tailed account and also concerning the . 
fate of the go-cart. I had not long to 
wait for the reply. It ran as follows: 

"Dear Sir, — I beg to call your atten- 
tion to the attached long-overdue ac- 
count. I would respectfully call your 
attention to the fact that our terms are 
cash, and we are not able to give these 
long credits. It is only by strict atten- 
tion to business methods that we are 
enabled to sell at the prices we do. — 
Yours faithfully, 

" (Hieroglyphics), 
"For Circus Stores Ltd." 

I turned over and found that "at- 
tached" was my old friend: "To account 
rendered, a cheque will oblige." 

To this communication I replied: 

"Dear Sir, — ^As you seem so hurt 
about it, I send you herewith a cheque 
for £4. 15s. I id. in payment of the at- 
tached account, although I do not know 
for what I am paying. I might add that 
if you had answered any one of my three 
former letters by sending the detailed 
account I asked for, you would have re- 
ceived this cheque earlier. 

"I have also asked you three times 
what happened to the go-cart my wife 
ordered. Possibly it is included in this 
bill. I am too tired to ask you again. — 
Yours truly, 

"C. Manley." 



284 



THE LOTUS MAGAZINE 



The Circus Stores replied most cour- 
teously to the above, namely: 

"Dear Sir, — Your esteemed note of 
3rd to hand, with cheque enclosed, for 
which we are much obliged. We very 
much regret that we were unable to ob- 
tain the go-cart ordered. We tried a 
number of makers, but none of them could 
supply this article. The fact is that just at 
present they are positively not to be had. 

"We await your further commands 
before again moving in the naatter, and 
meanwhue we forward you attached the 
detailed statement you ask for. We very 
much regret that you have not received 
it before now. 

" Trusting for the favour of your further 
esteemed commands. — Believe me, my 
dear sir, yours faithfully, 

"(Hieroglyphics), 
"For Circus Stores Ltd." 

I turned over and found my old friend, 
"To account rendered," but this time re- 
ceipted. I turned over again and found; 

"To I box toilet soap. . ........ is. pd." 

This was, I supposed, what they called 
the detailed account. It was useless to 
worry further, so I gave up trying to find 
out what Ermentrude had bought, con- 
soling myself with the idea that it all 
came out in war work somewhere. 

A month or two later I received an- 
other communication from the Circus 
Stores. It ran as follows : 

"To account rendered £2. 5s. 3d." 

To this I replied: 

"Dear Sir, — I have already paid one 
bill of £4. 15s. I id. without knowing what 
I was paying for, as my four letters asking 
for a detailed account failed to extract 
that document from you. I refuse to 
pay a second account of the details of 
which I am ignorant. — ^Yours truly, 

"C. Manley." 



To this I received a reply: 

"Dear Sir, — ^ We much regret that you 
have not yet received the detailed account 
you ask for. We hasten to send it here- 
with. 

"We beg to draw your attention to the 
attached long-overdue account, which is 
for go-cart and carriage. — Believe me, 
yours faithfully, 

" (Hieroglyphics), 
" For Circus Stores Ltd." 

I turned over, and there actually was 
the long-lost detailed account for £4. 15s. 
I id. I turned over again, and found an- 
other old friend, "To account rendered, 
£2. 5s. 3d."; across this had been scrib- 
bled in pencil, "Go-cart and carriage." 
The word "carriage" puzzled me; if 
"conveyance" had been meant it surely 
would have figured as a separate item, 
and it would have stated to where and 
by what means it was conveyed. 

After much thought I answered as 
follows: 

"Dear Sir, — We certainly ordered a 
go-cart, but not a go-carriage. With re- 
gard to the former, I would refer you 
to your former letter attached. — ^Yours 
truly, ..(>_ Manley." 

To this I attached the letter from the 
stores to the effect that "Go-carts were 
positively not to be had." (We had, by 
the way, purchased one for Charlie else- 
where long since.) 

The Circus Stores made the amende 
honorable. Their reply, which was too 
long to quote, contained such phrases as 
"accept apologies," "have now adjusted 
account," "trust will not mihtate against 
further valued orders." I still deal with 
the Circus Stores. I imagine that they 
have been patriotic enough to send all 
their best brains to the war. 

C. H. S. 

From The Queen, London.