A Prisoner in Fairyland/Chapter 9
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray, Star-inwrought! Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day; Kiss her until she be wearied out, Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land, Touching all with thine opiate wand- Come, long sought! To ''Night'', SHELLEY.
Now, cats are curious creatures, and not without reason, perhaps, are they adored by some, yet regarded with suspicious aversion by others. They know so much they never dare to tell, while affecting that they know nothing and are innocent. For it is beyond question that several hours later, when the village and the Citadelle were lost in slumber, Mere Riquette stirred stealthily where she lay upon the hearth, opened her big green eyes, and--began to wash.
But this toilette was pretence in case any one was watching. Really, she looked about her all the time. Her sleep also had been that sham sleep of cats behind which various plots and plans mature--a questionable business altogether. The washing, as soon as she made certain no one saw her, gave place to another manoeuvre. She stretched as though her bones were of the very best elastic. Gathering herself together, she arched her round body till it resembled a toy balloon straining to rise against the pull of four thin ropes that held it tightly to the ground. Then, unable to float off through the air, as she had expected, she slowly again subsided. The balloon deflated. She licked her chops, twitched her whiskers, curled her tail neatly round her two front paws--and grinned complacently. She waited before that extinguished fire of peat as though she had never harboured a single evil purpose in all her days. 'A saucer of milk,' she gave the world to understand, c is the only thing I care about.' Her smile of innocence and her attitude of meek simplicity proclaimed this to the universe at large. 'That's me,' she told the darkness, 'and I don't care a bit who knows it.' She looked so sleek and modest that a mouse need not have feared her. But she did not add, 'That's what I mean the world to think,' for this belonged to the secret life cats never talk about. Those among humans might divine it who could, and welcome. They would be admitted. But the rest of the world were regarded with mere tolerant disdain. They bored.
Then, satisfied that she was unobserved, Mere Riquette abandoned all further pretence, and stalked silently about the room. The starlight just made visible her gliding shadow, as first she visited the made-up sofa-bed where the exhausted mother snored mildly beneath the book- shelves, and then, after a moment's keen inspection, turned back and went at a quicker pace into the bedroom where the children slept. There the night-light made her movements easily visible. The cat was excited. Something bigger than any mouse was coming into her life just now.
Riquette then witnessed a wonderful and beautiful thing, yet witnessed it obviously not for the first time. Her manner suggested no surprise. 'It's like a mouse, only bigger,' her expression said. And by this she meant that it was natural. She accepted it as right and proper.
For Monkey got out of herself as out of a case. She slipped from her body as a sword slips from its sheath, yet the body went on breathing in the bed just as before; the turned-up nose with the little platform at its tip did not cease from snoring, and the lids remained fastened tightly over the brilliant brown eyes, buttoned down so securely for the night. Two plaits of hair lay on the pillow; another rose and fell with the regular breathing of her little bosom. But Monkey herself stood softly shining on the floor within a paw's length.
Riquette blinked her eyes and smiled complacently. Jimbo was close behind her, even brighter than his sister, with eyes like stars.
The visions of cats are curious things, no doubt, and few may guess their furry, silent pathways as they go winding along their length of inconsequent development. For, softer than any mouse, the children glided swiftly into the next room where Mother slept beneath the book- shelves--two shining little radiant figures, hand in hand. They tried for a moment to pull out Mother too, but found her difficult to move. Somewhere on the way she stuck. They gave it up.
Turning towards the window that stood open beyond the head of the sofa-bed, they rose up lightly and floated through it out into the starry night. Riquette leaped like a silent shadow after them, but before she reached the roof of red-brown tiles that sloped down to the yard, Jimbo and Monkey were already far away. She strained her big green eyes in vain, seeing nothing but the tops of the plane trees, thick with tiny coming leaves, the sweep of vines and sky, and the tender, mothering night beyond. She pattered softly back again, gave a contemptuous glance at Mother in passing, and jumped up at once into the warm nest of sheets that gaped invitingly between the shoulder of Jimbo's body and the pillow. She shaped the opening to her taste, kneading it with both front paws, turned three times round, and then lay down. Curled in a ball, her nose buried between her back feet, she was asleep in a single moment. Her whiskers ceased to quiver.
The children were tugging at Daddy now over in the carpenter's house. His bed was short, and his body lay in a kind of knot. On the chair beside it were books and papers, and a candle that had burnt itself out. A pencil poked its nose out among the sheets, and it was clear he had fallen asleep while working.
'Wumbled!' sighed Jimbo, pointing to the scribbled notes. But Monkey was busy pulling him out, and did not answer. Then Jimbo helped her. And Daddy came out magnificently--as far as the head--then stuck like Mother. They pulled in vain. Something in his head prevented complete release.
'En voila un!' laughed Monkey. 'Quel homme!' It was her natural speech, the way she talked at school. 'It's a pity,' said Jimbo with a little sigh. They gave it up, watching him slide slowly back again. The moment he was all in they turned towards the open window. Hand in hand they sailed out over the sleeping village. And from almost every house they heard a sound of weeping. There were sighs and prayers and pleadings. All slept and dreamed--dreamed of their difficulties and daily troubles. Released in sleep, their longings rose to heaven unconsciously, automatically as it were. Even the cheerful and the happy yearned a little, even the well-to-do whom the world judged so secure--these, too, had their burdens that found release, and so perhaps relief in sleep.
'Come, and we'll help them,' Jimbo said eagerly. 'We can change all that a little. Oh, I say, what a lot we've got to do to-night.'
'Je crois bien,' laughed Monkey, turning somersaults for joy as she followed him. Her tendency to somersaults in this condition was irresistible, and a source of worry to Jimbo, who classed it among the foolish habits of what he called 'womans and things like that!'
And the sound came loudest from the huddled little building by the Church, the Pension where they had their meals, and where Jinny had her bedroom. But Jinny, they found, was already out, off upon adventures of her own. A solitary child, she always went her independent way in everything. They dived down into the first floor, and there, in a narrow bedroom whose windows stood open upon the wistaria branches, they found Madame Jequier--'Tante Jeanne,' as they knew the sympathetic, generous creature best, sister-in-law of the Postmaster--not sleeping like the others, but wide awake and praying vehemently in a wicker-chair that creaked with every nervous movement that she made. All about her were bits of paper covered with figures, bills, calculations, and the rest.
'We can't get at her,' said Monkey, her laughter hushed for a moment. 'There's too much sadness. Come on! Let's go somewhere else.'
But Jimbo held her tight. 'Let's have a try. Listen, you silly, can't you!'
They stood for several minutes, listening together, while the brightness of their near approach seemed to change the woman's face a little. She looked up and listened as though aware of something near her.
'She's praying for others as well as herself,' explained Jimbo.
'Ca vaut la peine alors,' said Monkey. And they drew cautiously nearer.... But, soon desisting, the children were far away, hovering about the mountains. They had no steadiness as yet.
'Starlight,' Jimbo was singing to himself, 'runs along my mind.'
'You're all up-jumbled,' Monkey interrupted him with a laugh, turning repeated somersaults till she looked like a catherine wheel of brightness.
'... the pattern of my verse or story...' continued Jimbo half aloud, '... a little ball of tangled glory....'
'You must unwind!' cried Monkey. 'Look out, it's the sun! It'll melt us into dew!'
But it was not the sun. Out there beyond them, towards the purple woods still sleeping, appeared a draught of starbeams like a broad, deep river of gold. The rays, coming from all corners of the sky, wove a pattern like a network.
'Jimbo!' gasped the girl, 'it's like a fishing-net. We've never noticed it before.'
'It is a net,' he answered, standing still as a stone, though he had not thought of it himself until she said so. He instantly dressed himself, as he always translated il se dressait in his funny Franco- English. Deja and comme ca, too, appeared everywhere. 'It is a net like that. I saw it already before, once.'
'Monkey,' he added, 'do you know what it really is? Oh, I say!'
'Of course I do.' She waited nevertheless for him to tell her, and he was too gallant just then in his proud excitement for personal exultation.
'It's the Star Cave--it's Daddy's Star Cave. He said it was up here "where the Boudry forests dip below the cliffs towards the Areuse." ...' He remembered the very words.
His sister forgot to turn her usual somersaults. Wonder caught them both. 'A pair of eyes, then, or a puddle! Quick!' she cried in a delighted whisper. She looked about her everywhere at once, making confused and rushing little movements of helplessness. 'Quick, quick!'
'No,' said Jimbo, with a man's calm decision, 'it's when they can't find eyes or puddles that they go in there. Don't interfere.'
She admitted her mistake. This was no time to press a petty advantage.
'I'll shut my eyes while you sponge up the puddles with a wedge of moss,' she began. But her brother cut her short. He was very sure of himself. He was leader beyond all question.
'You follow me,' he commanded firmly, 'and you'll get in somehow. We'll get all sticky with it. Then we'll come out again and help those crying people like Tante Jeanne and....' A list of names poured out. 'They'll think us wonderful---'
'We shall be wonderful,' whispered Monkey, obeying, yet peeping with one big brown eye.
The cataract of starbeams rushed past them in a flood of gold.
They moved towards an opening in the trees where the limestone cliffs ran into rugged shapes with pinnacles and towers. They found the entrance in the rocks. Water dripped over it, making little splashes. The lime had run into hanging pillars and a fringe of pointed fingers. Past this the river of starlight poured its brilliant golden stream. Its soft brightness shone yellow as a shower of primrose dust.
'Look out! The Interfering Sun!' gasped Monkey again, awed and confused with wonder. 'We shall melt in dew or fairy cotton. Don't you? ... I call it rotten ...!'
'You'll unwind all right,' he told her, trying hard to keep his head and justify his leadership. He, too, remembered phrases here and there. 'I'm a bit knotted, looped, and all up-jumbled too, inside. But the sun is miles away still. We're both soft-shiny still.'
They stooped to enter, plunging their bodies to the neck in the silent flood of sparkling amber.
Then happened a strange thing. For how could they know, these two adventurous, dreaming children, that Thought makes images which, regardless of space, may flash about the world, and reach minds anywhere that are sweetly tuned to their acceptance?
'What's that? Look out! Gare! Hold tight!' In his sudden excitement Jimbo mixed questions with commands. He had caught her by the hand. There was a new sound in the heavens above them--a roaring, rushing sound. Like the thunder of a train, it swept headlong through the sky. Voices were audible too.
'There's something enormous caught in the star-net,' he whispered.
'It's Mother, then,' said Monkey.
They both looked up, trembling with anticipation. They saw a big, dark body like a thundercloud hovering above their heads. It had a line of brilliant eyes. From one end issued a column of white smoke. It settled slowly downwards, moving softly yet with a great air of bustle and importance. Was this the arrival of a dragon, or Mother coming after them? The blood thumped in their ears, their hands felt icy. The thing dipped slowly through the trees. It settled, stopped, began to purr.
'It's a railway train,' announced Jimbo finally with authority that only just disguised amazement. 'And the passengers are getting out.' With a sigh of immense relief he said it. 'You're not in any danger, Monkey,' he added.
He drew his sister back quickly a dozen steps, and they hid behind a giant spruce to watch. The scene that followed was like the holiday spectacle in a London Terminus, except that the passengers had no luggage. The other difference was that they seemed intent upon some purpose not wholly for their own advantage. It seemed, too, they had expected somebody to meet them, and were accordingly rather confused and disappointed. They looked about them anxiously.
'Last stop; all get out here!' a Guard was crying in a kind of pleasant singing voice. 'Return journey begins five minutes before the Interfering Sun has risen.'
Jimbo pinched his sister's arm till she nearly screamed. 'Hear that?' he whispered. But Monkey was too absorbed in the doings of the busy passengers to listen or reply. For the first passenger that hurried past her was no less a person than--Jane Anne! Her face was not puzzled now. It was like a little sun. She looked utterly happy and contented, as though she had found the place and duties that belonged to her.
'Jinny!' whispered the two in chorus. But Jane Anne did not so much as turn her head. She slipped past them like a shaft of light. Her hair fell loose to her waist. She went towards the entrance. The flood rose to her neck.
'Oh! there she is!' cried a voice. 'She travelled with us instead of coming to meet us.' Monkey smiled. She knew her sister's alien, unaccountable ways only too well.
The train had settled down comfortably enough between the trees, and lay there breathing out a peaceable column of white smoke, panting a little as it did so. The Guard went down the length of it, turning out the lamps; and from the line of open doors descended the stream of passengers, all hurrying to the entrance of the cave. Each one stopped a moment in front of the Guard, as though to get a ticket clipped, but instead of producing a piece of pasteboard, or the Guard a punching instrument, they seemed to exchange a look together. Each one stared into his face, nodded, and passed on.
'What blue eyes they've got,' thought Monkey to herself, as she peered into each separate face as closely as she dared. 'I wish mine were like that!' The wind, sighing through the tree-tops, sent a shower of dew about their feet. The children started. 'What a lovely row!' Jimbo whispered. It was like footsteps of a multitude on the needles. The fact that it was so clearly audible showed how softly all these passengers moved about their business.
The Guard, they noticed then, called out the names of some of them; perhaps of all, only in the first excitement they did not catch them properly. And each one went on at once towards the entrance of the cave and disappeared in the pouring river of gold.
The light-footed way they moved, their swiftness as of shadows, the way they tossed their heads and flung their arms about--all this made the children think it was a dance. Monkey felt her own legs twitch to join them, but her little brother's will restrained her.
'If you turn a somersault here,' he said solemnly, 'we're simply lost.' He said it in French; the long word had not yet dawned upon his English consciousness. They watched with growing wonder then, and something like terror seized them as they saw a man go past them with a very familiar look about him. He went in a cloud of sparkling, black dust that turned instantly into shining gold when it reached the yellow river from the stars. His face was very dirty.
'It's not the ramoneur,' whispered Jimbo, uncertain whether the shiver he felt was his sister's or his own. 'He's much too springy.' Sweeps always had a limp.
For the figure shot along with a running, dancing leap as though he moved on wires. He carried long things over his shoulders. He flashed into the stream like a shadow swallowed by a flame. And as he went, they caught such merry words, half sung, half chanted:--,
'I'll mix their smoke with hope and mystery till they see dreams and faces in their fires---' and he was gone.
Behind him came a couple arm in arm, their movements equally light and springy, but the one behind dragging a little, as though lazily. They wore rags and torn old hats and had no collars to their shirts. The lazy one had broken boots through which his toes showed plainly. The other who dragged him had a swarthy face like the gypsies who once had camped near their house in Essex long, oh, ever so long ago.
'I'll get some too,' the slow one sang huskily as he stumbled along with difficulty 'but there's never any hurry. I'll fill their journeys with desire and make adventure call to them with love---'
'And I,' the first one answered, 'will sprinkle all their days with the sweetness of the moors and open fields, till houses choke their lungs and they come out to learn the stars by name. Ho, ho!'
They dipped, with a flying leap, into the rushing flood. Their rags and filthy slouched hats flashed radiant as they went, all bathed and cleaned in glory.
Others came after them in a continuous stream, some too outlandish to be named or recognised, others half familiar, very quick and earnest, but merry at the same time, and all intent upon bringing back something for the world. It was not for themselves alone, or for their own enjoyment that they hurried in so eagerly.
'How splendid! What a crew!' gasped Monkey. 'Quel spectacle!' And she began a somersault.
'Be quiet, will you?' was the rejoinder, as a figure who seemed to have a number of lesser faces within his own big one of sunburned brown, tumbled by them somewhat heavily and left a smell of earth and leaves and potting-sheds about the trees behind him. 'Won't my flowers just shine and dazzle 'em? And won't the dead leaves crackle as I burn 'em up!' he chuckled as he disappeared from view. There was a rush of light as an eddy of the star-stream caught him, and something certainly went up in flame. A faint odour reached the children that was like the odour of burning leaves.
Then, with a rush, came a woman whose immensely long thin arms reached out in front of her and vanished through the entrance a whole minute before the rest of her. But they could not see the face. Some one with high ringing laughter followed, though they could not see the outline at all. It went so fast, they only heard the patter of light footsteps on the moss and needles. Jimbo and Monkey felt slightly uncomfortable as they watched and listened, and the feeling became positive uneasiness the next minute as a sound of cries and banging reached them from the woods behind. There was a great commotion going on somewhere in the train.
'I can't get out, I can't get out!' called a voice unhappily. 'And if I do, how shall I ever get in again? The entrance is so ridiculously small. I shall only stick and fill it up. Why did I ever come? Oh, why did I come at all?'
'Better stay where you are, lady,' the Guard was saying. 'You're good ballast. You can keep the train down. That's something. Steady thinking's always best, you know.'
Turning, the children saw a group of figures pushing and tugging at a dark mass that appeared to have stuck halfway in the carriage door. The pressure of many willing hands gave it a different outline every minute. It was like a thing of india-rubber or elastic. The roof strained outwards with ominous cracking sounds; the windows threatened to smash; the foot-board, supporting the part of her that had emerged, groaned with the weight already.
'Oh, what's the good of me?' cried the queer deep voice with petulance. 'You couldn't get a wisp of hay in there, much less all of me. I should block the whole cave up!'
'Come out a bit!' a voice cried.
'Go back then!' suggested the Guard.
'But I can't. Besides I'm upside down!'
'You haven't got any upside down,' was the answer; 'so that's impossible.'
'Well, anyhow, I'm in a mess and muddle like this,' came the smothered voice, as the figures pulled and pushed with increasing energy.' And my tarpaulin skirt is all askew. The winds are at it as usual.'
'Nothing short of a gale can help you now,' was somebody's verdict, while Monkey whispered beneath her breath to Jimbo. 'She's even bigger than Mother. Quelle masse!'
Then came a thing of mystery and wonder from the sky. A flying figure, scattering points of light through the darkness like grains of shining sand, swooped down and stood beside the group.
'Oh, Dustman,' cried the guard, 'give her of your dust and put her to sleep, please. She's making noise enough to bring the Interfering Sun above the horizon before his time.'
Without a word the new arrival passed one hand above the part of her that presumably was the face. Something sifted downwards. There was a sound of gentle sprinkling through the air; a noise followed that was half a groan and half a sigh. Her struggles grew gradually less, then ceased. They pushed the bulk of her backwards through the door. Spread over many seats the Woman of the Haystack slept.
'Thank you,' said several voices with relief. 'She'll dream she's been in. That's just as good.'
'Every bit,' the others answered, resuming their interrupted journey towards the cavern's mouth.
'And when I come out she shall have some more,' answered the Dustman in a soft, thick voice; 'as much as ever she can use.'
He flitted in his turn towards the stream of gold. His feet were already in it when he paused a moment to shift from one shoulder to the other a great sack he carried. And in that moment was heard a low voice singing dreamily the Dustman's curious little song. It seemed to come from the direction of the train where the Guard stood talking to a man the children had not noticed before. Presumably he was the engine-driver, since all the passengers were out now. But it may have been the old Dustman himself who sang it. They could not tell exactly. The voice made them quite drowsy as they listened:--
The busy Dustman flutters down the lanes, He's off to gather star-dust for our dreams. He dusts the Constellations for his sack, Finding it thickest on the Zodiac, But sweetest in the careless meteor's track; ''That'' he keeps only For the old and lonely, (And is very strict about it!) Who sleep so little that they need the best; The rest,-- The common stuff,-- Is good enough For Fraulein, or for Baby, or for Mother, Or any other Who likes a bit of dust, But yet can do without it If they ''must''! The busy Dustman hurries through the sky The kind old Dustman's coming to ''your'' eye!
By the time the song was over he had disappeared through the opening.
'I'll show 'em the real stuff!' came back a voice--this time certainly his own--far inside now.
'I simply love that man,' exclaimed Monkey. 'Songs are usually such twiddly things, but that was real.' She looked as though a somersault were imminent. 'If only Daddy knew him, he'd learn how to write unwumbled stories. Oh! we must get Daddy out.'
'It's only the head that sticks,' was her brother's reply. 'We'll grease it.'
They remained silent a moment, not knowing what to do next, when they became aware that the big man who had been talking to the Guard was coming towards them.
'They've seen us!' she whispered in alarm. 'He's seen us.' An inexplicable thrill ran over her.
'They saw us long ago,' her brother added contemptuously. His voice quavered.
Jimbo turned to face them, getting in front of his sister for protection, although she towered above him by a head at least. The Guard, who led the way, they saw now, was a girl--a girl not much older than Monkey, with big blue eyes. 'There they are,' the Guard said loudly, pointing; and the big man, looking about him as though he did not see very clearly, stretched out his hands towards him. 'But you must be very quick,' she added, 'the Interfering Sun---'
'I'm glad you came to meet us. I hoped you might. Jane Anne's gone in ages ago. Now we'll all go in together,' he said in a deep voice, 'and gather star-dust for our dreams...' He groped to find them. His hands grew shadowy. He felt the empty air.
His voice died away even as he said it, and the difficulty he had in seeing seemed to affect their own eyes as well. A mist rose. It turned to darkness. The river of starlight faded. The net had suddenly big holes in it. They were slipping through. Wind whispered in the trees. There was a sharp, odd sound like the plop of a water-rat in a pond....
'We must be quick,' his voice came faintly from far away. They just had time to see his smile, and noticed the gleam of two gold teeth.... Then the darkness rushed up and covered them. The stream of tangled, pouring beams became a narrow line, so far away it was almost like the streak of a meteor in the sky.... Night hid the world and everything in it....
Two radiant little forms slipped past Riquette and slid feet first into the sleeping bodies on the beds.
There came soon after a curious sound from the outer room, as Mother turned upon her sofa-bed and woke. The sun was high above the Blumlisalp, spreading a sheet of gold and silver on the lake. Birds were singing in the plane trees. The roof below the open windows shone with dew, and draughts of morning air, sweet and fresh, poured into the room. With it came the scent of flowers and forests, of fields and peaty smoke from cottage chimneys....
But there was another perfume too. Far down the sky swept some fleet and sparkling thing that made the world look different. It was delicate and many-tinted, soft as a swallow's wing, and full of butterflies and tiny winds.
For, with the last stroke of midnight from the old church tower, May had waked April; and April had run off into the mountains with the dawn. Her final shower of tears still shone upon the ground. Already May was busy drying them.
That afternoon, when school was over, Monkey and Jimbo found themselves in the attics underneath the roof together. They had abstracted their father's opera-glasses from the case that hung upon the door, and were using them as a telescope.
'What can you see?' asked Jimbo, waiting for his turn, as they looked towards the hazy mountains behind the village.
'That must be the opening, then,' he suggested, 'just air.'
His sister lowered the glasses and stared at him. 'But it can't be a real place?' she said, the doubt in her tone making her words a question. 'Daddy's never been there himself, I'm sure--from the way he told it. You only dreamed it.' 'Well, anyhow,' was the reply with conviction, 'it's there, so there must be somebody who believes in it.' And he was evidently going to add that he had been there, when Mother's voice was heard calling from the yard below, 'Come down from that draughty place. It's dirty, and there are dead rats in it. Come out and play in the sunshine. Try and be sensible like Jinny.'
They smuggled the glasses into their case again, and went off to the woods to play. Though their union seemed based on disagreements chiefly they were always quite happy together like this, living in a world entirely their own. Jinny went her own way apart always--ever busy with pots and pans and sewing. She was far too practical and domestic for their tastes to amalgamate; yet, though they looked down upon her a little, no one in their presence could say a word against her. For they recognised the child's unusual selflessness, and rather stood in awe of it.
And this afternoon in the woods they kept coming across places that seemed oddly familiar, although they had never visited them before. They had one of their curious conversations about the matter--queer talks they indulged in sometimes when quite alone. Mother would have squelched such talk, and Daddy muddled them with long words, while Jane Anne would have looked puzzled to the point of tears.
'I'm sure I've been here before,' said Monkey, looking across the trees to a place where the limestone cliffs dropped in fantastic shapes of pointed rock. 'Have you got that feeling too?'
Jimbo, with his hands in the pockets of his blue reefer overcoat and his feet stuck wide apart, stared hard at her a moment. His little mind was searching too.
'It's natural enough, I suppose,' he answered, too honest to pretend, too proud, though, to admit he had not got it.
They were rather breathless with their climb, and sat down on a boulder in the shade.
'I know all this awfully well,' Monkey presently resumed, looking about her. 'But certainly we've never come as far as this. I think my underneath escapes and comes to places by itself. I feel like that. Does yours?'
He looked up from a bundle of moss he was fingering. This was rather beyond him.
'Oh, I feel all right,' he said, 'just ordinary.' He would have given his ten francs in the savings bank, the collection of a year, to have answered otherwise. 'You're always getting tummy-aches and things,' he added kindly. 'Girls do.' It was pride that made the sharp addition. But Monkey was not hurt; she did not even notice what he said. The insult thus ignored might seem almost a compliment Jimbo thought with quick penitence.
'Then, perhaps,' she continued, more than a little thrilled by her own audacity, 'it's somebody else's thinking. Thinking skips about the world like anything, you know. I read it once in one of Daddy's books.'
'Oh, yes--like that---'
'Thinking hard does make things true, of course,' she insisted.
'But you can't exactly see them,' he put in, to explain his own inexperience. He felt jealous of these privileges she claimed. 'They can't last, I mean.' 'But they can't be wiped out either,' she said decidedly. 'I'm sure of that.'
Presently they scrambled higher and found among the rocks an opening to a new cave. The Jura mountains are riddled with caves which the stalactites turn into palaces and castles. The entrance was rather small, and they made no attempt to crawl in, for they knew that coming out again was often very difficult. But there was great excitement about it, and while Monkey kept repeating that she knew it already, or else had seen a picture of it somewhere, Jimbo went so far as to admit that they had certainly found it very easily, while suggesting that the rare good fortune was due rather to his own leadership and skill.
But when they came home to tea, full of the glory of their discovery, they found that a new excitement made the announcement fall a little flat. For in the Den, Daddy read a telegram he had just received from England to say that Cousin Henry was coming out to visit them for a bit. His room had already been engaged at the carpenter's house. He would arrive at the end of the week.
It was the first of May!