We certainly were. The Lightning Loose was going faster and faster along that subterranean channel, and every now and then gave a lurch and a shiver.
'Oh!' whined Brenda; 'this is a dreadful place for dear little dogs!'
'Philip!' said Lucy in a low voice, 'I know something is going to happen. Something dreadful. We are friends, aren't we?'
'Yes,' said Philip firmly.
'Then I wish you'd kiss me.'
'I can like you just as much without that,' said Philip uneasily. 'Kissing people—it's silly, don't you think?'
'Nobody's kissed me since daddy went away,' she said, 'except Helen. And you don't mind kissing Helen. She said you were going to adopt me for your sister.'
'Oh! all right,' said Philip, and put his arm round her and kissed her. She felt so little and helpless and bony in his arm that he suddenly felt sorry for her, kissed her again more kindly and then, withdrawing his arm, thumped her hearteningly on the back.
'Be a man,' he said in tones of comradeship and encouragement. 'I'm perfectly certain nothing's going to happen. We're just going through a tunnel, and presently we shall just come out into the open air again, with the sky and the stars going on as usual.'
He spoke this standing on the prow beside Lucy, and as he spoke she clutched his arm.
'Oh, look,' she breathed, 'oh, listen!'
He listened. And he heard a dull echoing roar that got louder and louder. And he looked. The light of the lamps shone ahead on the dark gleaming water, and then quite suddenly it did not shine on the water because there was no longer any water for it to shine on. Only great empty black darkness. A great hole, ahead, into which the stream poured itself. And now they were at the edge of the gulf. The Lightning Loose gave a shudder and a bound and hung for what seemed a long moment on the edge of the precipice down which the underground river was pouring itself in a smooth sleek stream, rather like poured treacle, over what felt like the edge of everything solid.
The moment ended, and the little yacht, with Philip and Lucy and the parrot and the two dogs, plunged headlong over the edge into the dark unknown abyss below.
'It's all right, Lu,' said Philip in that moment. 'I'll take care of you.'
And then there was silence in the cavern—only the rushing sound of the great waterfall echoed in the rocky arch.
THE GREAT SLOTH
You have heard of Indians shooting rapids in their birch-bark canoes? And perhaps you have yourself sailed a toy boat on a stream, and made a dam of clay, and waited with more or less patience till the water rose nearly to the top, and then broken a bit of your dam out and made a waterfall and let your boat drift over the edge of it. You know how it goes slowly at first, then hesitates and sweeps on more and more quickly. Sometimes it upsets; and sometimes it shudders and strains and trembles and sways to one side and to the other, and at last rights itself and makes up its mind, and rushes on down the stream, usually to be entangled in the clump of rushes at the stream's next turn. This is what happened to that good yacht, the Lightning Loose. She shot over the edge of that dark smooth subterranean waterfall, hung a long breathless moment between still air and falling water, slid down like a flash, dashed into the stream below, shuddered, reeled, righted herself and sped on. You have perhaps been down the water chute at Earl's Court? It was rather like that.
'It's—it's all right,' said Philip, in a rather shaky whisper. 'She's going on all right.'
'Yes,' said Lucy, holding his arm very tight; 'yes, I'm sure she's going on all right.'
'Are we drowned?' said a trembling squeak. 'Oh, Max, are we really drowned?'
'I don't think so,' Max replied with caution. 'And if we are, my dear, we cannot undrown ourselves by screams.'
'Far from it,' said the parrot, who had for the moment been rendered quite speechless by the shock. And you know a parrot is not made speechless just by any little thing. 'So we may just as well try to behave,' it said.
The lamps had certainly behaved, and behaved beautifully; through the wild air of the fall, the wild splash as the Lightning Loose struck the stream below, the lamps had shone on, seemingly undisturbed.
'An example to us all,' said the parrot.
'Yes, but,' said Lucy, 'what are we to do?'
'When adventures take a turn one is far from expecting, one does what one can,' said the parrot.
'And what's that?'
'Nothing,' said the parrot. 'Philip has relieved Max at the helm and is steering a straight course between the banks—if you can call them banks. There is nothing else to be done.'
There plainly wasn't. The Lightning Loose rushed on through the darkness. Lucy reflected for a moment and then made cocoa. This was real heroism. It cheered every one up, including the cocoa-maker herself. It was impossible to believe that anything dreadful was going to happen when you were making that soft, sweet, ordinary drink.
'I say,' Philip remarked when she carried a cup to him at the wheel, 'I've been thinking. All this is out of a book. Some one must have let it out. I know what book it's out of too. And if the whole story got out of the book we're all right. Only we shall go on for ages and climb out at last, three days' journey from Trieste.'
'I see,' said Lucy, and added that she hated geography. 'Drink your cocoa while it's hot,' she said in motherly accents, and 'what book is it?'
'It's The Last Cruise of the Teal,' he said. 'Helen gave it me just before she went away. It's a ripping book, and I used it for the roof of the outer court of the Hall of Justice. I remember it perfectly. The chaps on the Teal made torches of paper soaked in paraffin.'
'We haven't any,' said Lucy; 'besides our lamps light everything up all right. Oh! there's Brenda crying again. She hasn't a shadow of pluck.'
She went quickly to the cabin where Max was trying to cheer Brenda by remarks full of solid good sense, to which Brenda paid no attention whatever.
'I knew how it would be,' she kept saying in a whining voice; 'I told you so from the beginning. I wish we hadn't come. I want to go home. Oh! what a dreadful thing to happen to dear little dogs.'
'Brenda,' said Lucy firmly, 'if you don't stop whining you shan't have any cocoa.'
Brenda stopped at once and wagged her tail appealingly.
'Cocoa?' she said, 'did any one say cocoa? My nerves are so delicate. I know I'm a trial, dear Max, it's no use your pretending I'm not, but there is nothing like cocoa for the nerves. Plenty of sugar, please, dear Lucy. Thank you so much! Yes, it's just as I like it.'
'There will be other things to eat by and by,' said Lucy. 'People who whine won't get any.'
'I'm sure nobody would dream of whining,' said Brenda. 'I know I'm too sensitive; but you can do anything with dear little dogs by kindness. And as for whining—do you know it's a thing I've never been subject to, from a child, never. Max will tell you the same.'
Max said nothing, but only fixed his beautiful eyes hopefully on the cocoa jug.
And all the time the yacht was speeding along the underground stream, beneath the vast arch of the underground cavern.
'The worst of it is we may be going ever so far away from where we want to get to,' said Philip, when Max had undertaken the steering again.
'All roads,' remarked the parrot, 'lead to Somnolentia. And besides the ship is travelling due north—at least so the ship's compass states, and I have no reason as yet for doubting its word.'
'Hullo!' cried more than one voice, and the ship shot out of the dark cavern into a sheet of water that lay spread under a white dome. The stream that had brought them there seemed to run across one side of this pool. Max, directed by the parrot, steered the ship into smooth water, where she lay at rest at last in the very middle of this great underground lake.
'This isn't out of The Cruise of the Teal,' said Philip. 'They must have shut that book.'
'I think it's out of a book about Mexico or Peru or Ingots or some geographical place,' said Lucy; 'it had a green-and-gold binding. I think you used it for the other end of the outer justice court. And if you did, this dome's solid silver, and there's a hole in it, and under this dome there's untold treasure in gold incas.'
'Gold bars, I believe,' said Lucy; 'and Mexicans come down through the hole in the roof and get it, and when enemies come they flood it with water. It's flooded now,' she added unnecessarily.
'I wish adventures had never been invented,' said Brenda. 'No, dear Lucy, I am not whining. Far from it. But if a dear little dog might suggest it, we should all be better in a home, should we not?'
All eyes now perceived a dark hole in the roof, a round hole exactly in the middle of the shining dome. And as they gazed the dark hole became light. And they saw above them a white shining disk like a very large and very bright moon. It was the light of day.
'Some one has opened the trap-door,' said Lucy. 'The Ingots always closed their treasure-vaults with trap-doors.'
The bright disk was obscured; confused shapes broke its shining roundness. Then another disk, small and very black appeared in the middle of it; the black disk grew larger and larger and larger. It was coming down to them. Slowly and steadily it came; now it reached the level of the dome, now it hung below it; down, down, down it came, past the level of their eager eyes and splashed in the water close by the ship. It was a large empty bucket. The rope which held it was jerked from above; the bucket dipped and filled and was drawn up again slowly and steadily till it disappeared in the hole in the roof.
'Quick,' said the parrot, 'get the ship exactly under the hole, and next time the bucket comes down you can go up in it.'
'This is out of the Arabian Nights, I think,' said Lucy, when the yacht was directly under the hole in the roof. 'But who is it that keeps on opening the books? Somebody must be pulling Polistopolis down.'
'The Pretenderette, I shouldn't wonder,' said Philip gloomily. 'She isn't the Deliverer, so she must be the Destroyer. Nobody else can get into Polistarchia, you know.'
'Oh, you're Deliverer too.'
'Thank you,' said Lucy gratefully. 'But there's Helen.'
'She was only on the Island, you know; she couldn't come to Polistarchia. Look out!'
The bucket was descending again, and instead of splashing in the water it bumped on the deck.
'You go first,' said Philip to Lucy.
'And you,' said Max to Brenda.
'Oh, I'll go first if you like,' said Philip.
'Yes,' said Max, 'I'll go first if you like, Brenda.'
You see Philip felt that he ought to give Lucy the first chance of escaping from the poor Lightning Loose. Yet he could not be at all sure what it was that she would be escaping to. And if there was danger overhead, of course he ought to be the one to go first to face it. And the worthy Max felt the same about Brenda.
And Lucy felt just the same as they did. I don't know what Brenda felt. She whined a little. Then for one moment Lucy and Philip stood on the deck each grasping the handle of the bucket and looking at each other, and the dogs looked at them, and the parrot looked at every one in turn. An impatient jerk and shake of the rope from above reminded them that there was no time to lose.
Lucy decided that it was more dangerous to go than to stay, just at the same moment when Philip decided that it was more dangerous to stay than to go, so when Lucy stepped into the bucket Philip helped her eagerly. Max thought the same as Philip, and I am afraid Brenda agreed with them. At any rate she leaped into Lucy's lap and curled her long length round just as the rope tightened and the bucket began to go up. Brenda screamed faintly, but her scream was stifled at once.
'I'll send the bucket down again the moment I get up,' Lucy called out; and a moment later, 'it feels awfully jolly, like a swing.'
And so saying she was drawn up into the hole in the roof of the dome. Then a sound of voices came down the shaft, a confused sound; the anxious little party on the Lightning Loose could not make out any distinct words. They all stood staring up, expecting, waiting for the bucket to come down again.
'I hate leaving the ship,' said Philip.
'You shall be the last to leave her,' said the parrot consolingly; 'that is if we can manage about Max without your having to sit on him in the bucket if he gets in first.'
'But how about you?' said Philip.
A little arrogantly the parrot unfolded half a bright wing.
'Oh!' said Philip enlightened and reminded. 'Of course! And you might have flown away at any time. And yet you stuck to us. I say, you know, that was jolly decent of you.'
'Not at all,' said the parrot with conscious modesty.
'But it was,' Philip insisted. 'You might have—— hullo!' cried Philip. The bucket came down again with a horrible rush. They held their breaths and looked to see the form of Lucy hurtling through the air. But no, the bucket swung loose a moment in mid-air, then it was hastily drawn up, and a hollow metallic clang echoed through the cavern.
'Brenda!' the cry was wrung from the heart of the sober self-contained Max.
'My wings and claws!' exclaimed the parrot.
'Oh, bother!' said Philip.
There was some excuse for these expressions of emotion. The white disk overhead had suddenly disappeared. Some one up above had banged the lid down. And all the manly hearts were below in the cave, and brave Lucy and helpless Brenda were above in a strange place, whose dangers those below could only imagine.
'I wish I'd gone,' said Philip. 'Oh, I wish I'd gone.'
'Yes, indeed,' said Max, with a deep sigh.
'I feel a little faint,' said the parrot; 'if some one would make a cup of cocoa.'
Thus did the excellent bird seek to occupy their minds in that first moment of disaster. And it was well that the captain and crew were thus saved from despair. For before the kettle boiled, the lid of the shaft opened about a foot and something largeish, roundish and lumpish fell heavily and bounced upon the deck of the Lightning Loose.
It was a pine-apple, fresh, ripe and juicy. On its side was carved in large letters of uncertain shape the one word 'WAIT.'
It was good advice and they took it. Really I do not see what else they could have done in any case. And they ate the pine-apple. And presently every one felt extremely sleepy.
'Waiting is one of those things that you can do as well asleep as awake, or even better,' said the parrot. 'Forty winks will do us all the good in the world.' He put his head under his wing where he sat on the binnacle.
'May I turn in alongside you, sir?' Max asked. 'I shan't feel the dreadful loneliness so much then.'
So Philip and Max curled up together on the deck, warmly covered with the spare flags of all nations, and the forty winks lasted for the space of a good night's rest—about ten hours, in fact. So ten hours' waiting was got through quite easily. But there was more waiting to do after they woke up, and that was not so easy.
. . . . . . .
When Lucy, sitting in the bucket with Brenda in her lap, felt the bucket lifted from the deck and swung loose in the air, it was as much as she could do to refrain from screaming. Brenda did scream, as you know, but Lucy stifled the sound in the folds of her frock.
Lucy bit her lips, made a great effort and called out that remark about the bucket-swing, just as though she were quite comfortable. It was very brave of her and helped her to go on being brave.
The bucket drew slowly up and up and up and passed from the silver dome into the dark shaft above. Lucy looked up. Yes, it was daylight that showed at the top of the shaft, and the rope was drawing her up towards it. Suppose the rope broke? Brenda was quite quiet now. She said afterwards that she must have fainted. And now the light was nearer and nearer. Now Lucy was in it, for the bucket had been drawn right up, and hands were reached out to draw it over the side of what seemed like a well. At that moment Lucy saw in a flash what might happen if the owners of the hands, in their surprise, let go the bucket and the windlass. She caught Brenda in her hands and threw the dog out on to the dry ground, and threw herself across the well parapet. Just in time, for a shout of surprise went up and the bucket went down, clanging against the well sides. The hands had let go.
Lucy clambered over the well side slowly, and when her feet stood on firm ground she saw that the hands were winding up the bucket again, and that it came very easily.
'Oh, don't!' she said. 'Let it go right down! There are some more people down there.'
'Sorry, but it's against the rules. The bucket only goes down this well forty times a day. And that was the fortieth time.'
They pulled the bucket in and banged down the lid of the well. Some one padlocked it and put the key in his pocket. And Lucy and he stood facing each other. He was a little round-headed man in a curious stiff red tunic, and there was something about the general shape of him and his tunic which reminded Lucy of something, only she could not remember what. Behind him stood two others, also red-tunicked and round-headed.
Brenda crouched at Lucy's feet and whined softly, and Lucy waited for the strangers to speak.
'You shouldn't do that,' said the red-tunicked man at last, 'it was a great shock to us, your bobbing up as you did. It will keep us awake at night, just remembering it.'
'I'm sorry,' said Lucy.
'You should always come into strange towns by the front gate,' said the man; 'try to remember that, will you? Good-night.'
'But you're not going off like this,' said Lucy. 'Let me write a note and drop it down to the others. Have you a bit of pencil, and paper?'
'No,' said the strange people, staring at her.
'Haven't you anything I can write on?' Lucy asked them.
'There's nothing here but pine-apples,' said one of them at last.
So she cut a pine-apple from among the hundreds that grew among the rocks near by, and carved 'WAIT' on it with her penknife.
'Now,' she said, 'open that well lid.'
'It's as much as our lives are worth,' said the leader.
'No it isn't,' said Lucy; 'there's no law against dropping pine-apples into the well. You know there isn't. It isn't like drawing water. And if you don't I shall set my little dog at you. She is very fierce.'
Brenda was so flattered that she showed her teeth and growled.
'Oh, very well,' said the stranger; 'anything to avoid fuss.'
When the well lid was padlocked down again, Lucy said:
'What country is this?' though she was almost sure, because of the pine-apples, that it was Somnolentia. And when they had said that word she said:
'Now I'll tell you something. The Deliverer is coming up that well next time you draw water. He is coming to deliver you from the bondage of the Great Sloth.'
'It is true,' said the red round-headed leader, 'that we are in bondage. And the Great Sloth wearies us with the singing of choric songs when we long to be asleep. But none can deliver us. There is no hope. There is nothing good but sleep. And of that we have never enough.'
'Oh, dear,' said Lucy despairingly, 'aren't there any women here? They always have more sense than men.'
'What you say is rude as well as untrue,' said the red leader; 'but to avoid fuss we will lead you and your fierce dog to the huts of the women. And then perhaps you will allow us to go to sleep.'
The huts were poor and mean, little fenced-in corners in the ruins of what had once been a great and beautiful city, with gardens and streams; but now the streams were dry and nothing grew in the gardens but weeds and pine-apples.
But the women—who all wore green tunics of the same stiff shape as the men's—were not quite so sleepy as their husbands. They brought Lucy fresh pine-apples to eat, and were dreamily interested in the cut of her clothes and the begging accomplishments of Brenda. And from the women she learned several things about the Somnolentians. They all wore the same shaped tunics, only the colours differed. The women's were green, the drawers of water wore red, the attendants of the Great Sloth wore black, and the pine-apple gatherers wore yellow.
And as Lucy sat at the door of the hut and watched the people in these four colours going lazily about among the ruins she suddenly knew what they were, and she exclaimed:
'I know what you are; you're Halma men.'
Instantly every man within earshot made haste to get away, and the women whispered, 'Hush! It is death to breathe that name.'
'But why?' Lucy asked.
'Halma was the great captain of our race,' said the woman, 'and the Great Sloth fears that if we hear his name it will rouse us and we shall break from bondage and become once more a free people.'
Lucy determined that they should hear that name pretty often; but before she could speak it again the woman sighed, and remarking 'The Great Sloth sleeps,' fell asleep then and there over the pine-apple she was peeling. A vast silence settled on the city, and next moment Lucy also slept. She slept for hours.
. . . . . . .
It took her some time to find the keeper of the padlock key, and when she had found him he refused to use it. Nothing would move him, not even the threat of the fierceness of Brenda.
At last, almost in despair, Lucy suddenly remembered a word of power.
'I command you to open the well and let down the bucket,' she said. 'I command you by the great name of Halma.'
'It is death to speak that name,' said the keeper of the key, looking over his shoulder anxiously.
'It is life to speak that name,' said Lucy. 'Halma! Halma! Halma! If you don't open that well I'll carve the name on a pine-apple and send it in on the golden tray with the Great Sloth's dinner.'
'It would have the lives of hundreds for that,' said the keeper in horror.
'Open the well then,' said Lucy.
. . . . . . .
They all held a council as soon as Philip and Max had been safely drawn up in the bucket, and Lucy told them all she knew.
'I think whatever we do we ought to be quick,' said Lucy; 'that Great Sloth is dangerous. I'm sure it is. It's sent already to say I am to be brought to its presence to sing songs to it while it goes to sleep. It doesn't mind me because it knows I'm not the Deliverer. And if you'll let me, I believe I can work everything all right. But if it knows you're here, it'll be much harder.'
The degraded Halma men were watching them from a distance, in whispering groups.
'I shall go and sing to the Great Sloth,' she said, 'and you must go about and say the name of power to every one you meet, and tell them you're the Deliverer. Then if my idea doesn't come off, we must overpower the Great Sloth by numbers and . . . . You just go about saying "Halma!"—see?'
'While you do the dangerous part? Likely!' said Philip.
'It's not dangerous. It never hurts the people who sing—never,' said Lucy. 'Now I'm going.'
And she went before Philip could stop her.
'Let her go,' said the parrot; 'she is a wise child.'
The temple of the Great Sloth was built of solid gold. It had beautiful pillars and doorways and windows and courts, one inside the other, each paved with gold flagstones. And in the very middle of everything was a large room which was entirely feather-bed. There the Great Sloth passed its useless life in eating, sleeping and listening to music.
Outside the moorish arch that led to this inner room Lucy stopped and began to sing. She had a clear little voice and she sang 'Jockey to the Fair,' and 'Early one morning,' and then she stopped.
And a great sleepy slobbery voice came out from the room and said:
'Your songs are in very bad taste. Do you know no sleepy songs?'
'Your people sing you sleepy songs,' said Lucy. 'What a pity they can't sing to you all the time.'
'You have a sympathetic nature,' said the Great Sloth, and it came out and leaned on the pillar of its door and looked at her with sleepy interest. It was enormous, as big as a young elephant, and it walked on its hind legs like a gorilla. It was very black indeed.
'It is a pity,' it said; 'but they say they cannot live without drinking, so they waste their time in drawing water from the wells.'
'Wouldn't it be nice,' said Lucy, 'if you had a machine for drawing water. Then they could sing to you all day—if they chose.'
'If I chose,' said the Great Sloth, yawning like a hippopotamus. 'I am sleepy. Go!'
'No,' said Lucy, and it was so long since the Great Sloth had heard that word that the shock of the sound almost killed its sleepiness.
'What did you say?' it asked, as if it could not believe its large ears.
'I said "No,"' said Lucy. 'I mean that you are so great and grand you have only to wish for anything and you get it.'
'Is that so?' said the Great Sloth dreamily and like an American.
'Yes,' said Lucy with firmness. 'You just say, "I wish I had a machine to draw up water for eight hours a day." That's the proper length for a working day. Father says so.'
'Say it all again, and slower,' said the creature. 'I didn't quite catch what you said.'
Lucy repeated the words.
'If that's all. . . .' said the Great Sloth; 'now say it again, very slowly indeed.'
Lucy did so and the Great Sloth repeated after her:
'I wish I had a machine to draw up water for eight hours a day.'
'Don't,' it said angrily, looking back over its shoulder into the feather-bedded room, 'don't, I say. Where are you shoving to? Who are you? What are you doing in my room? Come out of it.'
Something did come out of the room, pushing the Great Sloth away from the door. And what came out was the vast feather-bed in enormous rolls and swellings and bulges. It was being pushed out by something so big and strong that it was stronger that the Great Sloth itself, and pushed that mountain of lazy sloth-flesh half across its own inner courtyard. Lucy retreated before its advancing bulk and its extreme rage.
'Push me out of my own feather-bedroom, would it?' said the Sloth, now hardly sleepy at all. 'You wait till I get hold of it, whatever it is.'
The whole of the feather-bed was out in the courtyard now, and the Great Sloth climbed slowly back over it into its room to find out who had dared to outrage its Slothful Majesty.
Lucy waited, breathless with hope and fear, as the Great Sloth blundered back into the inner room of its temple. It did not come out again. There was a silence, and then a creaking sound and the voice of the Great Sloth saying:
'No, no, no, I won't. Let go, I tell you.' Then more sounds of creaking and the sound of metal on metal.
She crept to the arch and peeped round it.
The room that had been full of feather-bed was now full of wheels and cogs and bands and screws and bars. It was full, in fact, of a large and complicated machine. And the handle of that machine was being turned by the Great Sloth itself.
'Let me go,' said the Great Sloth, gnashing its great teeth. 'I won't work!'
'You must,' said a purring voice from the heart of the machinery. 'You wished for me, and now you have to work me eight hours a day. It is the law'; it was the machine itself which spoke.
'I'll break you,' said the Sloth.
'I am unbreakable,' said the machine with gentle pride.
'This is your doing,' said the Sloth, turning its furious eyes on Lucy in the doorway. 'You wait till I catch you!' And all the while it had to go on turning that handle.
'Thank you,' said Lucy politely; 'I think I will not wait. And I shall have eight hours' start,' she added.
Even as she spoke a stream of clear water began to run from the pumping machine. It slid down the gold steps and across the golden court. Lucy ran out into the ruined square of the city shouting:
'Halma! Halma! Halma! To me, Halma's men!'
And the men, already excited by Philip, who had gone about saying that name of power without a moment's pause all the time Lucy had been in the golden temple, gathered round her in a crowd.
'Quick!' she said; 'the Great Sloth is pumping water up for you. He will pump for eight hours a day. Quick! dig a channel for the water to run in. The Deliverer,' she pointed to Philip, 'has given you back your river.'
Some ran to look out old rusty half-forgotten spades and picks. But others hesitated and said:
'The Great Sloth will work for eight hours, and then it will be free to work vengeance on us.'
'I will go back,' said Lucy, 'and explain to it that if it does not behave nicely you will all wish for machine guns, and it knows now that if people wish for machinery they have to use it. It will be awake now for eight hours and if you all work for eight hours a day you'll soon have your city as fine as ever. And there's one new law. Every time the clock strikes you must all say "Halma!" aloud, every one of you, to remind yourselves of your great destiny, and that you are no longer slaves of the Great Sloth.'
She went back and explained machine guns very carefully to the now hard-working Sloth. When she came back all the men were at work digging a channel for the new river.
The women and children crowded round Lucy and Philip.
'Ah!' said the oldest woman of all, 'now we shall be able to wash in water. I've heard my grandmother say water was very pleasant to wash in. I never thought I should live to wash in water myself.'
'Why?' Lucy asked. 'What do you wash in?'
'Pine-apple juice,' said a dozen voices, 'when we do wash!'
'But that must be very sticky,' said Lucy.
'It is,' said the oldest woman of all; 'very!'
THE NIGHT ATTACK
The Halma men were not naturally lazy. They were, in the days before the coming of the Great Sloth, a most energetic and industrious people. Now that the Sloth was obliged to work eight hours a day, the weight of its constant and catching sleepiness was taken away, and the people set to work in good earnest. (I did explain, didn't I, that the Great Sloth's sleepiness really was catching, like measles?)
So now the Halma men were as busy as ants. Some dug the channel for the new stream, some set to work to restore the buildings, while others weeded the overgrown gardens and ploughed the deserted fields. The head Halma man painted in large letters on a column in the market-place these words:
'This city is now called by its ancient name of Briskford. Any citizen found calling it Somnolentia will not be allowed to wash in water for a week.'
The head-man was full of schemes, the least of which was the lighting of the town by electricity, the power to be supplied by the Great Sloth.
'He can't go on pumping eight hours a day,' said the head-man; 'I can easily adjust the machine to all sorts of other uses.'
In the evening a banquet was (of course) given to the Deliverers. The banquet was all pine-apple and water, because there had been no time to make or get anything else. But the speeches were very flattering; and Philip and Lucy were very pleased, more so than Brenda, who did not like pine-apple and made but little effort to conceal her disappointment. Max accepted bits of pine-apple, out of politeness, and hid them among the feet of the guests so that nobody's feelings should be hurt.
'I don't know how we're to get back to the island,' said Philip next day, 'now we've lost the Lightning Loose.'
'I think we'd better go back by way of Polistopolis,' said Lucy, 'and find out who's been opening the books. If they go on they may let simply anything out. And if the worst comes to the worst, perhaps we could get some one to help us to open the Teal book again and get the Teal out to cross to the island in.'
'Lu,' said Philip with feeling, 'you're clever, really clever. No, I'm not kidding. I mean it. And I'm sorry I ever said you were only a girl. But how are we to get to Polistopolis?'
It was a difficult problem. The head-man could offer no suggestions. It was Brenda who suggested asking the advice of the Great Sloth.
'He is such a fine figure of an animal,' she said admiringly; 'so handsome and distinguished-looking. I am sure he must have a really great mind. I always think good looks go with really great minds, don't you, dear Lucy?'
'We might as well,' said Philip, 'if no one can think of anything else.'
No one could. So they decided to take Brenda's advice.
Now that the Sloth worked every day it was not nearly so disagreeable as it had been when it slept so much.
The children approached it at the dinner hour and it listened patiently if drowsily to their question. When it had quite done, it reflected—or seemed to reflect; perhaps it had fallen asleep—until the town clock struck one, the time for resuming work. Then it got up and slouched towards its machine.
'Cucumbers,' it said, and began to turn the handle of its wheel. They had to wait till tea-time to ask it what it meant, for in that town the rule about not speaking to the man at the wheel was strictly enforced.
'Cucumbers,' the Sloth repeated, and added a careful explanation. 'You sit on the end of any young cucumber which points in the desired direction, and when it has grown to its full length—say sixteen inches—why, then you are sixteen inches on your way.'
'But that's not much,' said Lucy.
'Every little helps,' said the Sloth; 'more haste less speed. Then you wait till the cucumber seeds, and, when the new plants grow, you select the earliest cucumber that points in the desired direction and take your seat on it. By the end of the cucumber season you will be another sixteen—or with luck seventeen—inches on your way. Thirty-two inches in all, almost a yard. And thus you progress towards your goal, slowly but surely, like in politics.'
'Thank you very much,' said Philip; 'we will think it over.'
But it did not need much thought.
'If we could get a motor car!' said Philip. 'If you can get machines by wishing for them. . . .'
'The very thing,' said Lucy, 'let's find the head-man. We mustn't wish for a motor or we should have to go on using it. But perhaps there's some one here who'd like to drive a motor—for his living, you know?'
There was. A Halma man, with an inborn taste for machinery, had long pined to leave the gathering of pine-apples to others. He was induced to wish for a motor and a B.S.A. sixty horse-power car snorted suddenly in the place where a moment before no car was.
'Oh, the luxury! This is indeed like home,' sighed Brenda, curling up on the air-cushions.
And the children certainly felt a gloriously restful sensation. Nothing to be done; no need to think or bother. Just to sit quiet and be borne swiftly on through wonderful cities, all of which Philip vaguely remembered to have seen, small and near, and built by his own hands and Helen's.
And so, at last, they came close to Polistopolis. Philip never could tell how it was that he stopped the car outside the city. It must have been some quite unaccountable instinct, because naturally, you know, when you are not used to being driven in motors, you like to dash up to the house you are going to, and enjoy your friends' enjoyment of the grand way in which you have travelled. But Philip felt—in that quite certain and quite unexplainable way in which you do feel things sometimes—that it was best to stop the car among the suburban groves of southernwood, and to creep into the town in the disguise afforded by motor coats, motor veils and motor goggles. (For of course all these had come with the motor car when it was wished for, because no motor car is complete without them.)
They said good-bye warmly to the Halma motor man, and went quietly towards the town, Max and Brenda keeping to heel in the most praiseworthy way, and the parrot nestling inside Philip's jacket, for it was chilled by the long rush through the evening air.
And now the scattered houses and spacious gardens gave place to the streets of Polistopolis, the capital of the kingdom. And the streets were strangely deserted. The children both felt—in that quite certain and unexplainable way—that it would be unwise of them to go to the place where they had slept the last time they were in that city.
The whole party was very tired. Max walked with drooping tail, and Brenda was whining softly to herself from sheer weariness and weak-mindedness. The parrot alone was happy—or at least contented. Because it was asleep.
At the corner of a little square planted with southernwood-trees in tubs, Philip called a halt.
'Where shall we go?' he said; 'let us put it to the vote.'
And even as he spoke, he saw a dark form creeping along in the shadow of the houses.
'Who goes there?' Philip cried with proper spirit, and the answer surprised him, all the more that it was given with a kind of desperate bravado.
'I go here; I, Plumbeus, Captain of the old Guard of Polistopolis.'
'Oh, it's you!' cried Philip; 'I am glad. You can advise us. Where can we go to sleep? Somehow or other I don't care to go to the house where we stayed before.'
The captain made no answer. He simply caught at the hands of Lucy and Philip, dragged them through a low arched doorway and, as soon as the long lengths of Brenda and Max had slipped through, closed the door.
'Safe,' he said in a breathless way, which made Philip feel that safety was the last thing one could count on at that moment.
'Now, speak low, who knows what spies may be listening? I am a plain man. I speak as I think. You came out of the unknown. You may be the Deliverer or the Destroyer. But I am a judge of faces—always was from a boy—and I cannot believe that this countenance of apple-cheeked innocence is that of a Destroyer.'
Philip was angry and Lucy was furious. So he said nothing. And she said:
'Apple-cheeked yourself!' which was very rude.
'I see that you are annoyed,' said the captain in the dark, where, of course, he could see nothing; 'but in calling your friend apple-cheeked I was merely offering the highest compliment in my power. The absence of fruit in this city is, I suppose, the reason why our compliments are like that. I believe poets say "sweet as a rose"—we say "sweet as an orange." May I be allowed unreservedly to apologise?'
'Oh, that's all right,' said Philip awkwardly.
'And to ask whether you are the Deliverer?'
'I hope so,' said Philip modestly.
'Of course he is,' said the parrot, putting its head out from the front of Philip's jacket; 'and he has done six deeds out of the seven already.'
'It is time that deeds were done here,' said the captain. 'I'll make a light and get you some supper. I'm in hiding here; but the walls are thick and all the shutters are shut.'
He bolted a door and opened the slide of a dark lantern.
'Some of us have taken refuge in the old prison,' he said; 'it's never used, you know, so her spies don't infest it as they do every other part of the city.'
'The Destroyer's,' said the captain, getting bread and milk out of a cupboard; 'at least, if you're the Deliverer she must be that. But she says she's the Deliverer.'
He lighted candles and set them on the table as Lucy asked eagerly:
'What Destroyer? Is it a horrid woman in a motor veil?'
'You've guessed it,' said the captain gloomily.
'It's that Pretenderette,' said Philip. 'Does Mr. Noah know? What has she been doing?'
'Everything you can think of,' said the captain; 'she says she's Queen, and that she's done the seven deeds. And Mr. Noah doesn't know, because she's set a guard round the city, and no message can get out or in.'
'The Hippogriff?' said Lucy.
'Yes, of course I thought of that,' said the captain. 'And so did she. She's locked it up and thrown the key into one of the municipal wells.'
'But why do the guards obey her?' Philip asked.
'They're not our guards, of course,' the captain answered. 'They're strange soldiers that she got out of a book. She got the people to pull down the Hall of Justice by pretending there was fruit in the gigantic books it's built with. And when the book was opened these soldiers came marching out. The Sequani and the Aedui they call themselves. And when you've finished supper we ought to hold a council. There are a lot of us here. All sorts. Distinctions of rank are forgotten in times of public peril.'
Some twenty or thirty people presently gathered in that round room from whose windows Philip and Lucy had looked out when they were first imprisoned. There were indeed all sorts, match-servants, domino-men, soldiers, china-men, Mr. Noah's three sons and his wife, a pirate and a couple of sailors.
'What book,' Philip asked Lucy in an undertone, 'did she get these soldiers out of?'
'Caesar, I think,' said Lucy. 'And I'm afraid it was my fault. I remember telling her about the barbarians and the legions and things after father had told me—when she was my nurse, you know. She's very clever at thinking of horrid things to do, isn't she?'
The council talked for two hours, and nobody said anything worth mentioning. When every one was quite tired out, every one went to bed.
It was Philip who woke in the night in the grasp of a sudden idea.
'What is it?' asked Max, rousing himself from his warm bed at Philip's feet.
'I've thought of something,' said Philip in a low excited voice. 'I'm going to have a night attack.'
'Shall I wake the others?' asked Max, ever ready to oblige.
Philip thought a moment. Then:
'No,' he said, 'it's rather dangerous; and besides I want to do it all by myself. Lucy's done more than her share already. Look out, Max; I'm going to get up and go out.'
He got up and he went out. There was a faint greyness of dawn now which showed him the great square of the city on which he and Lucy had looked from the prison window, a very long time ago as it seemed. He found without difficulty the ruins of the Hall of Justice.
And among the vast blocks scattered on the ground was one that seemed of grey marble, and bore on its back in gigantic letters of gold the words De Bello Gallico.
Philip stole back to the prison and roused the captain.
'I want twenty picked men,' he said, 'without boots—and at once.'
He got them, and he led them to the ruins of the Justice Hall.
'Now,' he said, 'raise the cover of this book; only the cover, not any of the pages.'
The men set their shoulders to the marble slab that was the book's cover and heaved it up. And as it rose on their shoulders Philip spoke softly, urgently.
'Caesar,' he said, 'Caesar!'
And a voice answered from under the marble slab.
'Who calls?' it said. 'Who calls upon Julius Caesar?'
And from the space below the slab, as it were from a marble tomb, a thin figure stepped out, clothed in toga and cloak and wearing on its head a crown of bays.
'I called,' said Philip in a voice that trembled a little. 'There's no one but you who can help. The barbarians of Gaul hold this city. I call on great Caesar to drive them away. No one else can help us.'
Caesar stood for a moment silent in the grey twilight. Then he spoke.
'I will do it,' he said; 'you have often tried to master Caesar and always failed. Now you shall be no more ashamed of that failure, for you shall see Caesar's power. Bid your slaves raise the leaves of my book to the number of fifteen.'
It was done, and Caesar turned towards the enormous open book.
'Come forth!' he said. 'Come forth, my legions!'
Then something in the book moved suddenly, and out of it, as out of an open marble tomb, came long lines of silent armed men, ranged themselves in ranks, and, passing Caesar, saluted. And still more came, and more and more, each with the round shield and the shining helmet and the javelins and the terrible short sword. And on their backs were the packages they used to carry with them into war.
'The Barbarians of Gaul are loose in this city,' said the voice of the great commander; 'drive them before you once more as you drove them of old.'
'Whither, O Caesar?' asked one of the Roman generals.
'Drive them, O Titus Labienus,' said Caesar, 'back into that book wherein I set them more than nineteen hundred years ago, and from which they have dared to escape. Who is their leader?' he asked of Philip.
'The Pretenderette,' said Philip; 'a woman in a motor veil.'
'Caesar does not war with women,' said the man in the laurel crown; 'let her be taken prisoner and brought before me.'
Low-voiced, the generals of Caesar's army gave their commands, and with incredible quietness the army moved away, spreading itself out in all directions.
'She has caged the Hippogriff,' said Philip; 'the winged horse, and we want to send him with a message.'
'See that the beast is freed,' said Caesar, and turned to Plumbeus the captain. 'We be soldiers together,' he said. 'Lead me to the main gate. It is there that the fight will be fiercest.' He laid a hand on the captain's shoulder, and at the head of the last legion, Caesar and the captain of the soldiers marched to the main gate.
Philip tore back to the prison, to be met at the door by Lucy.
'I hate you,' she said briefly, and Philip understood.
'I couldn't help it,' he said; 'I did want to do something by myself.'
And Lucy understood.
'And besides,' he said, 'I was coming back for you. Don't be snarky about it, Lu. I've called up Caesar himself. And you shall see him before he goes back into the book. Come on; if we're sharp we can hide in the ruins of the Justice Hall and see everything. I noticed there was a bit of the gallery left standing. Come on. I want you to think what message to send by the Hippogriff to Mr. Noah.'
'Oh, you needn't trouble about that,' said Lucy in an off-hand manner. 'I sent the parrot off ages ago.'
'And you never told me! Then I think that's quits; don't you?'
Lucy had a short struggle with herself (you know those unpleasant and difficult struggles, I am sure!) and said:
And together they ran back to the Justice Hall.
The light was growing every moment, and there was now a sound of movement in the city. Women came down to the public fountains to draw water, and boys swept the paths and doorsteps. That sort of work goes on even when barbarians are surrounding a town. And the ordinary sounds of a town's awakening came to Lucy and Philip as they waited; crowing cocks and barking dogs and cats mewing faintly for the morning milk. But it was not for those sounds that Lucy and Philip were waiting.
So through those homely and familiar sounds they listened, listened, listened; and very gradually, so that they could neither of them have said at any moment 'Now it has begun,' yet quite beyond mistake the sound for which they listened was presently loud in their ears. And it was the sound of steel on steel; the sound of men shouting in the breathless moment between sword-stroke and sword-stroke; the cry of victory and the wail of defeat.
And, presently, the sound of feet that ran.
And now a man shot out from a side street and ran across the square towards the Palace of Justice where Lucy and Philip were hidden in the gallery. And now another and another all running hard and making for the ruined hall as hunted creatures make for cover. Rough, big, blond, their long hair flying behind them, and their tunics of beast-skins flapping as they ran, the barbarians fled before the legions of Caesar. The great marble-covered book that looked like a marble tomb was still open, its cover and fifteen leaves propped up against the tall broken columns of the gateway of the Justice Hall. Into that open book leapt the first barbarian, leapt and vanished, and the next after him and the next, and then, by twos and threes and sixes and sevens, they leapt in and disappeared, amid gasping and shouting and the nearing sound of the bucina and of the trumpets of Rome.
Then from all quarters of the city the Roman soldiers came trooping, and as the last of the barbarians plunged headlong into the open book, the Romans formed into ordered lines and waited, while a man might count ten. Then, advancing between their ranks, came the spare form and thin face of the man with the laurel crown.
Twelve thousand swords flashed in air and wavered a little like reeds in the breeze, then steadied themselves, and the shout went up from twelve thousand throats:
And without haste and without delay the Romans filed through the ruins to the marble-covered book, and two by two entered it and disappeared. Each as he passed the mighty conqueror saluted him with proud mute reverence.
When the last soldier was hidden in the book, Caesar looked round him, a little wistfully.
'I must speak to him; I must,' Lucy cried; 'I must. Oh, what a darling he is!'
She ran down the steps from the gallery and straight to Caesar. He smiled when she reached him, and gently pinched her ear. Fancy going through the rest of your life hearing all the voices of the world through an ear that has been pinched by Caesar!
'Oh, thank you! thank you!' said Philip; 'how splendid you are. I'll swot up my Latin like anything next term, so as to read about you.'
'Are they all in?' Lucy asked. 'I do hope nobody was hurt.'
'A most unreasonable wish, my child, after a great battle!' he said. 'But for once the unreasonable is the inevitable. Nobody was hurt. You see it was necessary to get every man back into the book just as he left it, or what would the schoolmasters have done? There remain now only my own guard who have in charge the false woman who let loose the barbarians. And here they come.'
Surrounded by a guard with drawn swords the Pretenderette advanced slowly.
'Hail, woman!' said Caesar.
'Hail, whoever you are!' said the Pretenderette very sulkily.
'I hail,' said Caesar, 'your courage.'
Philip and Lucy looked at each other. Yes, the Pretenderette had courage: they had not thought of that before. All the attempts she had made against them—she alone in a strange land—yes, these needed courage.
'And I demand to know how you came here?'
'When I found he'd been at his building again,' she said, pointing a contemptuous thumb at Philip, 'I was just going to pull it down, and I knocked down a brick or two with my sleeve, and not thinking what I was doing I built them up again; and then I got a bit giddy and the whole thing seemed to begin to grow—candlesticks and bricks and dominoes and everything, bigger and bigger and bigger, and I looked in. It was as big as a church by this time, and I saw that boy losing his way among the candlestick pillars, and I followed him and I listened. And I thought I could be as good a Deliverer as anybody else. And the motor veil that I was going to catch the 2.37 train in was a fine disguise.'
'You tried to injure the children,' Caesar reminded her.
'I don't want to say anything to make you let me off,' said the Pretenderette, 'but at the beginning I didn't think any of it was real. I thought it was a dream. You can let your evil passions go in a dream and it don't hurt any one.'
'It hurts you,' Caesar said.
'Oh! that's no odds,' said the Pretenderette scornfully.
'You sought to injure and confound the children at every turn,' said Caesar, 'even when you found that things were real.'
'I saw there was a chance of being Queen,' said the Pretenderette, 'and I took it. Seems to me you've no occasion to talk if you're Julius Caesar, the same as the bust in the library. You took what you could get right enough in your time, when all's said and done.'
'I hail,' said Caesar again, 'your courage.'
'You needn't trouble,' she said, tossing her head; 'my game's up now, and I'll speak my mind if I die for it. You don't understand. You've never been a servant, to see other people get all the fat and you all the bones. What you think it's like to know if you'd just been born in a gentleman's mansion instead of in a model workman's dwelling you'd have been brought up as a young lady and had the openwork silk stockings and the lace on your under-petticoats.'
'You go too deep for me,' said Caesar, with the ghost of a smile. 'I now pronounce your sentence. But life has pronounced on you a sentence worse than any I can give you. Nobody loves you.'
'Oh, you old silly,' said the Pretenderette in a burst of angry tears, 'don't you see that's just why everything's happened?'
'You are condemned,' said Caesar calmly, 'to make yourself beloved. You will be taken to Briskford, where you will teach the Great Sloth to like his work and keep him awake for eight play-hours a day. In the intervals of your toil you must try to get fond of some one. The Halma people are kind and gentle. You will not find them hard to love. And when the Great Sloth loves his work and the Halma people are so fond of you that they feel they cannot bear to lose you, your penance will be over and you can go where you will.'
'You know well enough,' said the Pretenderette, still tearful and furious, 'that if that ever happened I shouldn't want to go anywhere else.'
'Yes,' said Caesar slowly, 'I know.'
Lucy would have liked to kiss the Pretenderette and say she was sorry, but you can't do that when it is all other people's fault and they aren't sorry. And besides, before all these people, it would have looked like showing off. You know, I am sure, exactly how Lucy felt.
The Pretenderette was led away. And now Caesar stood facing the children, his hands held out in farewell. The growing light of early morning transfigured his face, and to Philip it suddenly seemed to be most remarkably like the face of That Man, Mr. Peter Graham, whom Helen had married. He was just telling himself not to be a duffer when Lucy cried out in a loud cracked-sounding voice, 'Daddy, oh, Daddy!' and sprang forward.
And at that moment the sun rose above the city wall, and its rays gleamed redly on the helmet and the breastplate and the shield and the sword of Caesar. The light struck at the children's eyes like a blow. Dazzled, they closed their eyes and when they opened them, blinking and confused, Caesar was gone and the marble book was closed—for ever.
. . . . . . .
Three days later Mr. Noah arrived by elephant, and the meeting between him and the children is, as they say, better imagined than described. Especially as there is not much time left now for describing anything. Mr. Noah explained that the freeing of Polistopolis from the Pretenderette and the barbarians counted as the seventh deed and that Philip had now attained the rank of King, the deed of the Great Sloth having given him the title of Prince of Pine-apples. His expression of gratitude and admiration were of the warmest, and Philip felt that it was rather ungrateful of him to say, as he couldn't help saying:
'Now I've done all the deeds, mayn't I go back to Helen?'
'All in good time,' said Mr. Noah; 'I will at once set about the arrangements for your coronation.'
The coronation was an occasion of unexampled splendour. There was a banquet (of course) and fireworks, and all the guns fired salutes and the soldiers presented arms, and the ladies presented bouquets. And at the end Mr. Noah, with a few well-chosen words which brought tears to all eyes, placed the gold crown of Polistarchia upon the brow of Philip, where its diamonds and rubies shone dazzlingly.
There was an extra crown for Lucy, made of silver and pearls and pale silvery moonstones.
You have no idea how the Polistarchians shouted.
'And now,' said Mr. Noah when it was all over, 'I regret to inform you that we must part. Polistarchia is a Republic, and of course in a republic kings and queens are not permitted to exist. Partings are painful things. And you had better go at once.'
He was plainly very much upset.
'This is very sudden,' said Philip.
And Lucy said, 'I do think it's silly. How shall we get home? All in a hurry, like this?'
'How did you get here?'
'By building a house and getting into it.'
'Then build your own house. Oh, we have models of all the houses you were ever in. The pieces are all numbered. You only have to put them together.'
He led them to a large room behind the hall of Public Amusements and took down from a shelf a stout box labelled 'The Grange.' On another box Philip saw 'Laburnum Cottage.'
Mr. Noah, kneeling on his yellow mat, tumbled the contents of the box out on the floor, and Philip and Lucy set to work to build a house with the exquisitely finished little blocks and stones and beams and windows and chimneys.
'I cannot bear to see you go,' said Mr. Noah. 'Good-bye, good-bye. Remember me sometimes!'
'We shall never forget you,' said the children, jumping up hugging him.
'Good-bye!' said the parrot who had followed them in.
'Good-bye, good-bye!' said everybody.
'I wish the Lightning Loose was not lost,' Philip even at this parting moment remembered to say.
'She isn't,' said Mr. Noah. 'She flew back to the island directly you left her. Sails are called wings, are they not? White wings that never grow weary, you know. Relieved of your weight, the faithful yacht flew home like any pigeon.'
'Hooray!' said Philip. 'I couldn't bear to think of her rotting away in a cavern.'
'I wish Max and Brenda had come to say good-bye,' said Lucy.
'It is not needed,' said Mr. Noah mysteriously. And then everybody said good-bye again, and Mr. Noah rolled up his yellow mat, put it under his arm again, and went—for ever.
The children built the Grange, and when the beautiful little model of that house was there before them, perfect, they stood still a moment, looking at it.
'I wish we could be two people each,' said Lucy, 'and one of each of us go home and one of each of us stay here. Oh!' she cried suddenly, and snatched at Philip's arm. For a slight strange giddiness had suddenly caught her. Philip too swayed a little uncertainly and stood a moment with his hand to his head. The children gazed about them bewildered and still a little giddy. The room was gone, the model of the Grange was gone. Over their heads was blue sky, under their feet was green grass, and in front stood the Grange itself, with its front door wide open and on the steps Helen and Mr. Peter Graham.
That telegram had brought them home.
. . . . . . .
You will wonder how Lucy explained where she had been when she was lost. She never did explain. There are some things, as you know, that cannot be explained. But the curious thing is that no one ever asked for an explanation. The grown-ups must have thought they knew all about it, which, of course, was very far from being the truth.
When the four people on the doorstep of the Grange had finished saying how glad they were to see each other—that day on the steps when Philip and Lucy came back from Polistarchia, Helen and Mr. Peter Graham came back from Belgium—Helen said:
'And we've brought you each the loveliest present. Fetch them, Peter, there's a dear.'
Mr. Peter Graham went to the stable-yard and came back followed by two long tan dachshunds, who rushed up to the children frisking and fawning in a way they well knew.
'Why Max! why Brenda!' cried Philip. 'Oh, Helen! are they for us?'
'Yes, dear, of course they are,' said Helen; 'but how did you know their names?'
That was one of the things which Philip could not tell, then.
But he told Helen the whole story later, and she said it was wonderful, and how clever of him to make all that up, and that when he was a man he would be able to be an author and to write books.
'And do you know,' she said, 'I did dream about the island—quite a long dream, only when I woke up I could only remember that I'd been there and seen you. But no doubt I dreamed about Mr. Noah and all the rest of it as well, only I forgot it.'
. . . . . . .
And Max and Brenda of course loved every one. Their characters were quite unchanged. Only the children had forgotten the language of animals, so that conversation between them and the dogs was for ever impossible. But Max and Brenda understand every word you say—any one can see that.
. . . . . . .
You want to know what became of the redheaded, steely-eyed nurse, the Pretenderette, who made so much mischief and trouble? Well, I suppose she is still living with the Halma folk, teaching the Great Sloth to like his work and learning to be fond of people—which is the only way to be happy. At any rate no one that I know of has ever seen her again anywhere else.
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* * * * *
Obvious punctuation errors repaired.
The ~ symbol in the text form is used to indicate a much smaller type in the original for a much smaller voice.
Page 80, "delightfull" was changed to "delightful". (that delightful chess-table)
Page 265, "cocoanut" changed to "cocoa-nut" to conform to the rest of text. (cocoa-nut-ice plants)