The Extra Day HTML version
5. The Birth Of Wonder
Meanwhile their father alone grew neither older nor larger. His appearance did not
change. They could not imagine that he would ever change. He still went up to London
in the morning, he still came down again, he still continued to grind out stories which
they thought wonderful, and he still, on occasions, said mysteriously, "A day will come,"
or its variants, "Some day," and "A day is coming." Yet, though he had Fancy, he had
not Imagination. He did not satisfy them. For while Fancy may attend the birth of
Wonder, Imagination alone accompanies her growth. Daddy was too full of stationery
and sealing- wax in his daily work to have got very far.
Aunt Emily also still was there, explaining everything and saying No, shaking her head
at them, or holding up a warning finger. Their outward life, indeed, showed little change,
but it included one important novelty that affected all their present and all their
subsequent existence, too. They made a new friend--their father's brother.
When first his visit was announced, they had their doubts about him-- "your Uncle Felix"
had a very questionable sound indeed, but the fact that he lived in Paris and was a
writer of sea-stories and historical novels counterbalanced the handicap of the
unpleasant "Felix." For to their ears Felix was not a proper sort of name at all; it was all
right for a horse or a dog or even for a town, but for a man who was also a relation it
was a positive disaster. It would not shorten for one thing, and for another it reminded
them of "a king, or some one in a history book," and thus did not predispose them in his
favour. It was simply what Tim called a "beastly name." Aunt Emily, however, was
responsible for their biggest prejudice against him: "You must remember not to bother
him, children; you must never disturb him when he's working." And as Uncle Felix was
coming to stay for several weeks in the Mill House, they regarded him in advance as
some kind of horrible excitement they must put up with.
However, as most things in life go by contraries, this Uncle Felix person turned out just
the opposite. Within an hour of his arrival he was firmly established as friend and ally,
yet so quickly and easily was this adjustment brought about that no one could say
exactly how it happened. They themselves said nothing--just stood and stared at him;
Daddy and Mother said the expected things, and Aunt Emily, critical and explanatory as
usual, found it necessary to add: "You'll find it such a quiet house to work in, Felix, and
the children will never interfere or get in your way." She was evidently proud of her
relative and his famous books. "They'll be as good as gold--won't you, Judy?" by which
name she referred to the trio as a whole.