The Extra Day
7. Imagination Wakes
For the Night-Wind already had a definite position in the mythology of the Old Mill
House, and since Uncle Felix had taken to reading aloud certain fancy bits from the
storicalnovul he was writing at the moment, it had acquired a new importance in their
These fancy bits were generally scenes of action in which the Night- Wind either
dropped or rose unexpectedly. He used the children as a standard. "Thank you very
much, Uncle," meant failure, the imagination was not touched; but questions were an
indication of success, the audience wanted further details. For he knew it was the child
in his audience that enjoyed such scenes, and if Tim and Judy felt no interest, neither
would Mr. and Mrs. William Smith of Peckham. To squeeze a question out of Maria
raised hopes of a second edition!
A Duke, disguised as a woman or priest, landing at night; a dark man stealing
documents from a tapestried chamber of some castle, where bats and cobwebs shared
the draughty corridors--such scenes were incomplete unless a Night-Wind came in
audibly at critical moments. It wailed, moaned, whistled, cried, sang, sighed, soughed
or--sobbed. Keyholes and chimneys were its favourite places, but trees and rafters
knew it too. The sea, of course, also played a large part in these adventures, for water
above all was the element Uncle Felix loved and understood, but this Night-Wind, being
born at sea, was also of distinct importance. The sea was terrible, the wind was sad.
To the children it grew more and more distinct with each appearance. It had a
personality, and led a curious and wild existence. It had privileges and prerogatives.
Owing to its various means of vocal expression--singing, moaning, and the rest--a face
belonged to it with lips and mouth; teeth too, since it whistled. It ran about the world,
and so had feet; it flew, so wings pertained to it; it blew, and that meant cheeks of sorts.
It was a large, swift, shadowy being whose ways were not the ordinary ways of daylight.
It struck blows. It had gigantic hands. Moreover, it came out only after dark--an ominous
and suspicious characteristic rather.
"Why isn't there a day-wind too?" inquired Judy thoughtfully.
"There is, but it's quite a different thing," Uncle Felix answered. "You might as well ask
why midday and midnight aren't the same because they both come at twelve o'clock.
They're simply different things."
"Of course," Tim helped him unexpectedly; "and a man can't be a woman, can it?"