A Prisoner in Fairyland
Be thou my star, and thou in me be seen
To show what source divine is, and prevails.
I mark thee planting joy in constant fire.
To Sirius, G. MEREDITH.
And he rather astonished the imperturbable Minks next day by the
announcement that he was thinking of going abroad for a little holiday. 'When I
return, it will be time enough to take up the Scheme in earnest,' he said. For
Minks had brought a sheaf of notes embodying the results of many hours' labour,
showing what others had already done in that particular line of philanthropy.
'Very good indeed, Minks, very good. I'll take 'em with me and make a careful
study of the lot. I shall be only gone a week or so,' he added, noticing the other's
disappointment. For the secretary had hoped to expound these notes himself at
length. 'Take a week's holiday yourself,' he added. 'Mrs. Minks might like to get to
the sea, perhaps. There'll only be my letters to forward. I'll give you a little
cheque.' And he explained briefly that he was going out to Bourcelles to enjoy a
few days' rest before they attacked great problems together. After so many years
of application to business he had earned it. Crayfield, it seemed, had given him a
taste for sentimental journeys. But the fact was, too, the Tramp, the Dustman, the
Lamplighter, and the Starlight Express were all in his thoughts still.
And it was spring. He felt this sudden desire to see his cousin again, and make
the acquaintance of his cousin's children. He remembered how the two of them
had tramped the Jura forests as boys. They had met in London at intervals since.
He dictated a letter to him then and there --Minks taking it down like lightning--
and added a postscript in his own handwriting:--
'I feel a longing,' he wrote, 'to come out and see the little haven of rest you have
chosen, and to know your children. Our ways have gone very far apart--too far--
since the old days when we climbed out of the windows of la cure with a sheet,
and tramped the mountains all night long. Do you remember? I've had my nose
on the grindstone ever since, and you've worked hard too, judging by your name
in publishers' lists. I hope your books are a great success. I'm ashamed I've
never any time to read now. But I'm "retired" from business at last and hope to do
great things. I'll tell you about a great Scheme I have in hand when we meet. I
should like your advice too.
'Any room will do--sunny aspect if possible. And please give my love to your
children in advance. Tell them I shall come out in the Starlight Express. Let me
have a line to say if it's all right.'
In due course the line--a warm-hearted one--arrived. Minks came to Charing
Cross to see him off, the gleam of the sea already in his pale-blue eyes.
'The Weather Report says "calm," Mr. Rogers,' he kept repeating. 'You'll have a
good crossing, I hope and trust. I'm taking Mrs. Minks myself---'
'Yes, yes, that's good,' was the quick reply. 'Capital. And--let me see-I've got your
notes with me, haven't I? I'll draft out a general plan and send it to you as soon
as I get a moment. You think over it too, will you, while I'm away. And enjoy