A Prisoner in Fairyland HTML version

Chapter 20
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Thro' all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.
He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strews her lights below.
St. Agnes' Eve, Tennyson.
Miss Waghorn, of late, had been unusually trying, and especially full of
complaints. Her poor old memory seemed broken beyond repair. She offered
Madame Jequier her weekly payment twice within ten minutes, and was quite
snappy about it when the widow declined the second tender.
'But you had the receipt in your hand wizin ten minutes ago, Mees Wag'orn. You
took it upstairs. The ink can hardly be now already yet dry.' But nothing would
satisfy her that she had paid until they went up to her room together and found it
after much searching between her Bible and her eternal novel on the writing-
'Forgive me, Madame, but you do forget sometimes, don't you?' she declared
with amusing audacity. 'I like to make quite sure--- especially where money is
concerned.' On entering the room she had entirely forgotten why they came
there. She began complaining, instead, about the bed, which had not yet been
made. A standing source of grumbling, this; for the old lady would come down to
breakfast many a morning, and then go up again before she had it, thinking it
was already late in the day. She worried the pensionnaires to death, too. It was
their duty to keep the salon tidy, and Miss Waghorn would flutter into the room as
early as eight o'clock, find the furniture still unarranged, and at once dart out
again to scold the girls. These interviews were amusing before they became
monotonous, for the old lady's French was little more than 'nong pas' attached to
an infinitive verb, and the girls' Swiss-German explanations of the alleged neglect
of duty only confused her. 'Nong pas faire la chambre,' she would say, stamping
her foot with vexation. 'You haven't done the room, though it's nearly dejooner
time!' Or else--'Ten minutes ago it was tidy. Look at it now!' while she dragged
them in and forced them to put things straight, until some one in authority came
and explained gently her mistake. 'Oh, excuse me, Madame,' she would say
then, 'but they do forget so often.' Every one was very patient with her as a rule.
And of late she had been peculiarly meddlesome, putting chairs straight, moving
vases, altering the lie of table-cloths and the angle of sofas, opening windows
because it was 'so stuffy,' and closing them a minute later with complaints about
the draught, forcing occupants of arm-chairs to get up because the carpet was
caught, fiddling with pictures because they were crooked either with floor or
ceiling, and never realising that in the old house these latter were nowhere