They change their mind and retreat to the safety of their cottage, feeling as they did so that they could just as well have an excellent adventure in comparative safety rather than in the big wide world

Edith reopened the door to their cottage, a little perturbed after seeing a bird drop dead out of the sky after hitting a telephone wire.

"I say, it looks a tad different out here than the last time we ventured outside the cottage," she proposed, scanning the countryside while ushering Mabel inside. "More...gray. And filled with rubbish. Fewer...intelligent birds."

"I'm already a bit peckish," Mabel said, opening the flowery bag. "How excursions take the energy out of one."

Edith shut the door ceremoniously, with a great bang, which set the grandfather clock by the door to rattling and dislodged a stuffed falcon from its perch above the mantle. A quick glance showed the clock to be stuck at half-past three in the morning, which was clearly incorrect.

"I believe Dwight's pendulum is broken," she called to Edith, who was already setting the table for tea.

She opened Dwight's glass face and peered about inside. The golden pendulum appeared to be jammed. There was a small parcel stuck up in the gears.

"How peculiar," she murmured, reaching up inside and wrenching it out. Dwight gave a clock-like moan and went back to ticking. After adjusting the time again, she walked into the kitchen. Steam rose from the china teapot sitting on the table. A cup was already waiting for her.

"Mabel," she said, "this was stuck in Dwight's gears."

She set the brown paper package on the table. It was about the size of a pillbox and a bit heavy.

"Well, open it."

The End

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