A Prisoner in Fairyland
Near where yonder evening star
Makes a glory in the air,
Lies a land dream--found and far
Where it is light always.
There those lovely ghosts repair
Who in sleep's enchantment are,
In Cockayne dwell all things fair--
(But it is far away).
Cockayne Country, Agnes Duclaux.
The first stage in Cousinenry's introduction took place, as has been seen, at a
railway station; but further stages were accomplished later. For real introductions
are not completed by merely repeating names and shaking hands, still less by a
hurried kiss. The ceremony had many branches too--departments, as it were. It
spread itself, with various degrees, over many days as opportunity offered, and
included Gygi, the gendarme, as well as the little troop of retired governesses
who came to the Pension for their mid-day dinner. Before two days were passed
he could not go down the village street without lifting his cap at least a dozen
times. Bourcelles was so very friendly; no room for strangers there; a new-comer
might remain a mystery, but he could not be unknown. Rogers found his halting
French becoming rapidly fluent again. And every one knew so much about him--
more almost than he knew himself.
At the Den next day, on the occasion of their first tea together, he realised fully
that introduction--to the children at any rate-- involved a kind of initiation.
It seemed to him that the room was full of children, crowds of them, an intricate
and ever shifting maze. For years he had known no dealings with the breed, and
their movements now were so light and rapid that it rather bewildered him. They
were in and out between the kitchen, corridor, and bedroom like bits of a fluid
puzzle. One moment a child was beside him, and the next, just as he had a
suitable sentence ready to discharge at it, the place was vacant. A minute later 'it'
appeared through another door, carrying the samovar, or was on the roof outside
struggling with Riquette.
'Oh, there you are!' he exclaimed. 'How you do dart about, to be sure!'
And the answer, if any, was invariably of the cheeky order--
'One can't keep still here; there's not room enough.'
Or, worse still--
'I must get past you somehow!' This, needless to say, from Monkey, who first
made sure her parents were out of earshot.
But he liked it, for he recognised this proof that he was accepted and made one
of the circle. These were tentative invitations to play. It made him feel quite larky,
though at first he found his machinery of larking rather stiff. The wheels required
oiling. And his first attempt to chase Miss Impudence resulted in a collision with
Jane Anne carrying a great brown pot of home-made jam for the table. There
was a dreadful sound. He had stepped on the cat at the same time.