The Extra Day
6. The Growth Of Wonder
The story of the dragon-fly marked a turning-point in their lives; they realised that life
was crammed with things that nobody could understand. Daddy's reign was over, and
Uncle Felix had ascended the throne. Wonder--but a growing wonder--ruled the world.
The great Stranger they had always been vaguely expecting had drawn nearer; it was
not Uncle Felix, yet he seemed the forerunner somehow. That "Some Day" of Daddy's--
they had almost forgotten its existence--became more and more a possibility. Life had
two divisions now: Before Uncle Felix came--and Now. To Maria alone there seemed no
interval. To her it was always Now. She had so much wonder in her that she knew.
Outwardly the household ran along as usual, but inwardly this enormous change was
registered in three human hearts. The adventures they had before Uncle Felix came
were the ordinary kind all children know; they invented them themselves. Their new
adventures were of a different order--impossible but true. Their uncle had brought a key
that opened heaven and earth.
He did not know that he had brought this key. It was just natural--he let himself in
because it was his nature so to do; the others merely went in with him. He worked away
in his room, covering reams of paper with nonsense out of his big head; and the trio
never disturbed him or knocked at his door, or even looked for him: they knew that his
real life ran with theirs, and the moment he had covered so many dozen sheets he
would appear and join them. All people had their duties; his duty was to fill so many
sheets a day for printers; but his important life belonged to them and they just lived it
naturally together. He would never leave the Old Mill House. The funny thing was--
whatever had he done with himself before he came there!
Everything he said and did lit up the common things of daily life with this strange, big
wonder that was his great possession. Yet his method was simple and instinctive; he
never thought things out; he just-- knew.
And the effect of his presence upon the other Authorities was significant. Not that the
Authorities admitted or even were aware of it, but that the children saw them differently.
Aunt Emily, for instance, whom they used to dread, they now felt sorry for. She was so
careful and particular that she was afraid of life, afraid of living. Prudence was slowly
killing her. Everything must be done in a certain way that made it safe; only, by the time
it was safe it was no longer interesting. They saw clearly how she missed everything
owing to the excessive caution and preparation in her: by the time she was ready, the
thing had simply left. Instead of coming into the hayfield at once and enjoying it, she
uttered so many warnings and gave so much advice against disaster--"better take this,"