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3. Death Of A Mere Fact
There was a man named Jinks. In him was neither fancy, imagination, nor a sign of
wonder, and so he--died.
But, though he appears in this chapter, he disappears again so quickly that his being
mentioned in a sentence all by himself should not lead any one astray. Jinks made a
false entry, as it were. The children crossed him out at once. He became illegible. For
the trio had their likes and dislikes; they resented liberties being taken with them. Also,
when there was no one to tell them stories, they were quite able to amuse themselves.
It was the inactive yet omnipotent Maria who brought about indirectly the obliteration of
And it came about as follows:
Maria was a podgy child of marked individuality. It was said that she was seven years
old, but she declared that eight was the figure, because some uncle or other had
explained, "you're in your eighth year." Wandering uncles are troublesome in this kind of
way. Every time her age was mentioned she corrected the informant. She had a trick of
moving her eyes without moving her head, as though the round face was difficult to turn;
but her big blue eyes slipped round without the least trouble, as though oiled. The
performance gave her the sly and knowing aspect of a goblin, but she had no objection
to that, for it saved her trouble, and to save herself trouble--according to nurses,
Authorities, and the like--was her sole object in existence.
Yet this seemed a mistaken view of the child. It was not so much that she did not move
unnecessarily as that it was not necessary for her to move at all, since she invariably
found herself in the middle of whatever was going on. While life bustled anxiously about
her, hurrying to accomplish various ends, she remained calm and contented at the
centre, completely satisfied, mistress of it all. And her face was symbolic of her entire
being; whereas so many faces seem unfinished, hers was complete--globular like the
heavenly bodies, circular like the sun, arms and legs unnecessary. The best of
everything came to her because she did not run after it. There was no hurry. Time did
not worry her. Circular and self-sustaining, she already seemed to dwell in Eternity.
"And this little person," one of these inquisitive, interfering visitors would ask, smiling
fatuously; "how old is she, I wonder?"
"Seven," was the answer of the Authority in charge.
Maria's eyes rolled sideways, and a little upwards. She looked at the foolish questioner;
the Authority who had answered was not worth a glance.