THE delicate pinkish bloom of newness was on the wooden spades, the slick smoothness of the painted pails showed neither scratch nor dent on their green and scarlet surface-the shrimping nets were full and fluffy as, once they and sand and water had met, they never could be again. The pails and spades and nets formed the topmost layer of a pile of luggage-you know the sort of thing, with the big boxes at the bottom; and the carryall bulging with its wraps and mackers; the old portmanteau that shows its striped lining through the crack and is so useful for putting boots in; and the sponge bag, and all the little things that get left out. You can almost always squeeze a ball or a paint box or a box of chalks or any of those things-which grown-ups say you won't really want till you come back-into that old portmanteau-and then when it's being unpacked at the journey's end the most that can happen will be that someone will say, "I thought I told you not to bring that," and if you don't answer back, that will be all. But most likely in the agitation of unpacking and settling in, your tennis ball, or pencil box, or whatever it is, will pass unnoticed. Of course, you can't shove an aquarium into the old portmanteau-nor a pair of rabbits, nor a hedgehog-but anything in reason you can.
The luggage that goes in the van is not much trouble-of course, it has to be packed and to be strapped, and labeled and looked after at the junction, but apart from that the big luggage behaves itself, keeps itself to itself, and like your elder brothers at college never occasions its friends a moment's anxiety. It is the younger fry of the luggage family, the things you have with you in the carriage that are troublesome-the bundle of umbrellas and walking sticks, the golf clubs, the rugs, the greatcoats, the basket of things to eat, the books you are going to read in the train and as often as not you never look at them, the newspapers that the grown-ups are tired of and yet don't want to throw away, their little bags or dispatch cases and suitcases and card cases, and scarfs and gloves-
The children were traveling under the care of Aunt Enid, who always had far more of these tiresome odds and ends than Mother had-and it was at the last moment, when the cab was almost to be expected to be there, that Aunt Enid rushed out to the corner shop and returned with four new spades, four new pails, and four new shrimping nets, and presented them to the children just in time for them to be added to the heap of odds and ends with which the cab was filled up.
"I hope it's not ungrateful," said Mavis at the station as they stood waiting by the luggage mound while Aunt Enid went to take the tickets-"but why couldn't she have bought them at Beachfield?"
"Makes us look such babies," said Francis, who would not be above using a wooden spade at the proper time and place but did not care to be branded in the face of all Waterloo Junction as one of those kids off to the seaside with little spades and pails.
Kathleen and Bernard were, however, young enough to derive a certain pleasure from stroking the smooth, curved surface of the spades till Aunt Enid came fussing back with the tickets and told them to put their gloves on for goodness' sake and try not to look like street children.
I am sorry that the first thing you should hear about the children should be that they did not care about their Aunt Enid, but this was unfortunately the case. And if you think this was not nice of them I can only remind you that you do not know their Aunt Enid.
There was a short, sharp struggle with the porter, a flustered passage along the platform and the children were safe in the carriage marked "Reserved"-thrown into it, as it were, with all that small fry of