"Where is he?" demanded Agatha. "Where's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? It's his birthday, after all!"
"Well, yes, by Margaret's time," said Stevenson.
"It's a' richt for you, Louis," said Burns. (It was all right for me that Stevenson was known as "Louis" in his family -- no problems would arise with Burns, another Scottish Robert, around.) "Ye gave away your birthday!"
"The wee girl I gave it to wanted one farther awa' from Christmas," Louis said gently. "I didn't want mine any more anyway."
"But birthday parties are such fun!" said Burns. "Folk 'round the world celebrate mine every January."
"I know," said Agatha. "Margaret's already putting down her detective story -- and my autobiography -- and practicing to recite 'Address to a Haggis' next year."
"Ah, she'll do well," said Burns. "She had the finest teacher."
"Her father," said Louis. "He loved the old stories and poems. He got her started on most of our work!"
Everyone fell silent. Dad knew them, too.
"Well, we just missed my birthday," said Daphne du Maurier. "It was May 13, Margaret's time." She sniffed a little. "Sometimes I just feel so ignored and insignificant, it's like Mrs. de Winter was me!"
"Which Mrs. de Winter?" said Agatha, trying to catch her colleague. "Rebecca, or...?"
"Mrs. de Winter the second," said Daphne, sniffing again.
"But back to my original point -- where's our chairman?" demanded Agatha. "After all, we should be celebrating his birthday!"
Louis Stevenson laughed and settled own on his favorite couch. (All writers' rooms, imaginary or not, should have one.)
"Margaret's got a lot of reorganizing to do on her bookshelves," said Louis. "Maybe Arthur's wandered off to a different corner of her mind today because he's on a different shelf!"
The door of the room swung open under Sir Arthur's strong hand.
"Hello, all," he said. "Why the confused gazes? What's Margaret been up to?"
"Ah, she's gotten a new job," said Agatha proudly. "She's busy again and learning so much. But that isn't the main reason we wanted to gather here."
"It isn't?" said Sir Arthur.
"Och, no," said Robert Burns. "It's your birthday, Sir Chairman, and the committee should help you celebrate it!"
"Oh yes, so it is," said Arthur. "By Margaret's time... it's getting so hard to keep that straight here."
"Oh, don't get started on the spirit realm again, please," said Daphne. "This is the Writers' Room!"
"Do you not think there can be both realms here?" said Stevenson thoughtfully.
"But as to this celebration: What do you suggest?" said Arthur. "Mr. Burns, your readers seem to be quite adept at celebrating your birthday -- how shall we celebrate mine?"
"That's a three-pipe problem," Agatha muttered. Acoustics being perfect in the room, Arthur heard her immediately.
"Don't bring up that character of mine!" cried Arthur. "I would suggest readings from 'Through the Magic Door,' my little work about books. Could we all agree on that?"
They could and did. I'll go and join in the reading.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.