"For Christ's sake!" I exclaimed irritably. "What is wrong with you people? Doesn't anyone realize that it's Christmas day? Haven't you all got parties to go to?"

I put down the envelope and yanked open the door with such force that Mary Fiddleworth, who must have been leaning eagerly against it, came tumbling in along with a shower of snowflakes that were vaporized instantly by the heat of the fire.

I did not offer to help the woman to her feet, but this did not seem to trouble her at all, and she merely bounced up a moment later like a round, pink tennis ball.

"Thank you so much sir!" she squealed, beaming. "It is cold outside, and us Oompa-Loompas are not acclimated to this sort of weather."

I could scarcely believe my ears, and was starting to think I might have been better off with my family this holiday after all. But no, in a minute I would have these two safely out of my house and I could return to the festivities.

"I'm not going to trouble myself with politeness, because you seem to have no concept of what that is," I told Mary, most impolitely. "So skip the explanations as to why you have reentered my house, and please just get out of it."

I made an attempt to usher the woman out the door but she stood her ground stubbornly.

"But sir, you invited me!" she protested.

"I did not bloody well invite you!"

"Yes you did! You have a sign that says 'Welcome' on your stairs!" She pointed to my snowy welcome mat. I felt very inclined to punch this so-called Oompa-Loompa, but I'd heard you could get sued for that. So instead I pushed her "gently" outside, then snatched up my mat and flipped it over so that the rubber side was facing up.

"Well, it doesn't say 'Welcome' now, does it?" I snapped furiously. "It says the opposite of welcome. It says 'Unwelcome.' So go on back to Santa's workshop and enjoy your day off!"

I slammed the door in her face, this time latching it shut.

"Sir, if we really could get on with this," said my other uninvited guest in clipped tones. "It's really quite urgent."

"Fine, fine," I said taking up the envelope again and tearing it open. "What on earth. . .?"


The End

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