A Prisoner in Fairyland
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.
There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims.
Merchant of Venice.
----there came to him a vivid impression of sudden light in the room, and he knew
that something very familiar was happening to him, yet something that had not
happened consciously for thirty years and more --since his early childhood in the
night-nursery with the bars across the windows.
He was both asleep and awake at the same time. Some part of him, rather, that
never slept was disengaging itself--with difficulty. He was getting free. Stimulated
by his intercourse with the children, this part of him that in boyhood used to be so
easily detached, light as air, was getting loose. The years had fastened it in very
tightly. Jimbo and Monkey had got at it. And Jimbo and Monkey were in the room
at this moment. They were pulling him out.
It was very wonderful; a glory of youth and careless joy rushed through him like a
river. Some sheath or vesture melted off. It seemed to tear him loose. How in the
world could he ever have forgotten it-- let it go out of his life? What on earth could
have seemed good enough to take its place? He felt like an eagle some wizard
spell had imprisoned in a stone, now released and shaking out its crumpled
wings. A mightier spell had set him free. The children stood beside his bed!
'I can manage it alone,' he said firmly. 'You needn't try to help me.'
No sound was audible, but they instantly desisted. This thought, that took a
dozen words to express ordinarily, shot from him into them the instant it was
born. A gentle pulsing, like the flicker of a flame, ran over their shining little forms
of radiance as they received it. They shifted to one side silently to give him room.
Thus had he seen a searchlight pass like lightning from point to point across the
Yet, at first, there was difficulty; here and there, in places, he could not get quite
loose and free.
'He sticks like Daddy,' he heard them think. 'In the head it seems, too.'
There was no pain in the sensation, but a certain straining as of unaccustomed
muscles being stretched. He felt uncomfortable, then embarrassed, then--
exhilarated. But there were other exquisite sensations too. Happiness, as of
flooding summer sunshine, poured through him.
'He'll come with a rush. Look out!' felt Jimbo--'felt' expressing 'thought' and 'said'
together, for no single word can convey the double operation thus combined in
The reality of it caught him by the throat.
'This,' he exclaimed, 'is real and actual. It is happening to me now!'
He looked from the pile of clothes taken off two hours ago--goodness, what a
mass!--to the children's figures in the middle of the room. And one was as real as