A Prisoner in Fairyland
The sweet spring winds came laughing down the street, bearing a voice that
mingled with their music.
Daddy! Daddy! vite; il y a un paquet!' sounded in a child's excited cry. 'It arrives
this afternoon. It's got the Edinburgh postmark. Here is the notice. C'est enorme!'
The figure of Jimbo shot round the corner, dancing into view. He waved a bit of
yellow paper in his hand. A curious pang tore its way into the big man's heart as
he saw him--a curious, deep, searching pain that yet left joy all along its trail.
Positively moisture dimmed his eyes a second.
But Jimbo belonged to some one else.
Daddy's wumbled head projected instantly again from the window beneath.
'A box?' he asked, equally excited. 'A box from Scotland? Why, we had one only
last month. Bless their hearts! How little they know what help and happiness. ...
'The rest of the sentence disappeared with the head; and a moment later Jimbo
was heard scampering up the stairs. Both men went out to meet him.
The little boy was breathless with excitement, yet the spirit of the man of affairs
worked strongly in him. He deliberately suppressed hysterics. He spoke calmly
as might be, both hands in his trouser- pockets beneath the blouse of blue cotton
that stuck out like a ballet skirt all round. The belt had slipped down. His eyes
were never still. He pulled one hand out, holding the crumpled paper up for
'It's a paquet,' he said, 'comme ca.' He used French and English mixed, putting
the latter in for his cousin's benefit. He had little considerate ways like that. It's
coming from Scotland, et puis ca pese soixante-quinze kilos. Oh, it's big. It's
enormous. The last one weighed,' he hesitated, forgetful, 'much, much less,' he
finished. He paused, looking like a man who has solved a problem by stating it.
'One hundred and fifty pounds,' exclaimed his father, just as eager as the boy.
'Let me look,' and he held his hand out for the advice from the railway. 'What can
be in it?'
'Something for everybody,' said Jimbo decidedly. 'All the village knows it. It will
come by the two o'clock train from Bale, you know.' He gave up the paper
unwillingly. It was his badge of office. 'That's the paper about it,' he added again.
Daddy read out slowly the advice of consignment, with dates and weights and
address of sender and recipient, while Jimbo corrected the least mistake. He
knew it absolutely by heart.
'There'll be dresses and boots for the girls this time,' he announced, 'and
something big enough for Mother to wear, too. You can tell---'
'How can you tell?' asked Daddy, laughing slyly, immensely pleased about it all.
'Oh, by the weight of the paquet, comme ca,' was the reply. 'It weighs 75 kilos.
That means there must be something for Mummy in it.'
The author turned towards his cousin, hiding his smile. 'It's a box of clothes,' he
explained, 'from my cousins in Scotland, Lady X you know, and her family.
Things they give away--usually to their maids and what-not. Awfully good of