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8. Where Wonder Hides
The children had never been to London, but they knew the direction in which it lay--
beyond the crumbling kitchen-garden wall, where the wall-flowers grew in a proud
colony. The sky looked different there, a threatening quality in it. Both snow and
thunderstorm came that way, and the dirty sign-post "London Road" outside the lodge-
gates was tilted into the air significantly.
They regarded London as a terrible place, though a necessity: Daddy's office was there;
Christmas and Birthday presents came from London, but also it was where the Radical
govunment lived--an enormous, evil, octopus kind of thing that made Daddy poor.
Weeden, too, had been known to say dark things with regard to selling vegetables, hay,
and stuff. "What can yer igspect when a Radical govunment's in?" And the fact that
neither he nor Daddy did anything to move it away proved what a powerful thing it was,
and made them feel something hostile to their happiness dwelt London-way beyond that
crumbling wall.
The composite picture grew steadily in their little minds. When ominous clouds piled up
on that northern horizon, floating imperceptibly towards them, it was a fragment of
London that had broken off and come rolling along to hover above the old Mill House. A
very black cloud was the Seat of Govunment.
London itself, however, remained as obstinately remote as Heaven, yet the two visibly
connected; for while the massed vapours were part of London, the lanes and holes of
blue were certainly the vestibule of Heaven. "His seat is in the Heavens" must mean
something, they argued. They were quite sweetly reverent about it. They merely obeyed
the symbolism of primitive age.
"I shall go to Heaven," Tim said once, when they discussed dying as if it were a game.
He wished to define his position, as it were.
"But you haven't been to London yet," came the higher criticism from Judy. "London's a
Metropolis! It was an awful thing to say, though no one quite knew why. Part of their
dread was traceable to this word. Ever since some one had called it "the metropolis" in
their hearing, they had associated vague awe with the place. The ending "opolis"
sounded to them like something that might come "ontopofus"--and that, again, brought
"octopus" into the mind. It seemed reckless to mention London and Heaven together--
yet was right and proper at the same time. Both must one day be seen and known, one
inevitably as the other. Thus heavenly rights were included in their minds with a ticket to