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The Magic City

Philip Haldane and his sister lived in a little red-roofed house in a little
red-roofed town. They had a little garden and a little balcony, and a little
stable with a little pony in itÑand a little cart for the pony to draw; a
little canary hung in a little cage in the little bow-window, and the neat
little servant kept everything as bright and clean as a little new pin.
Philip had no one but his sister, and she had no one but Philip. Their
parents were dead, and Helen, who was twenty years older than Philip
and was really his half-sister, was all the mother he had ever known.
And he had never envied other boys their mothers, because Helen was
so kind and clever and dear. She gave up almost all her time to him; she
taught him all the lessons he learned; she played with him, inventing the
most wonderful new games and adventures. So that every morning
when Philip woke he knew that he was waking to a new day of joyous
and interesting happenings. And this went on till Philip was ten years
old, and he had no least shadow of a doubt that it would go on for ever.
The beginning of the change came one day when he and Helen had gone
for a picnic to the wood where the waterfall was, and as they were driv-
ing back behind the stout old pony, who was so good and quiet that
Philip was allowed to drive it. They were coming up the last lane before
the turning where their house was, and Helen said:
'To-morrow we'll weed the aster bed and have tea in the garden.'
'Jolly,' said Philip, and they turned the corner and came in sight of
their white little garden gate. And a man was coming out of itÑa man
who was not one of the friends they both knew. He turned and came to
meet them. Helen put her hand on the reinsÑa thing which she had al-
ways taught Philip was never doneÑand the pony stopped. The man,
who was, as Philip put it to himself, 'tall and tweedy,' came across in
front of the pony's nose and stood close by the wheel on the side where
Helen sat. She shook hands with him, and said, 'How do you do?' in
quite the usual way. But after that they whispered. Whispered! And