The Extra Day HTML version
2. Fancy‐‐Seed Of Wonder
The country house, so ancient that it seemed part of the landscape, settled down
secretively into the wintry darkness and watched the night with eyes of yellow flame.
The thick December gloom hid it securely from attack. Nothing could find it out. Though
crumbling in places, the mass of it was solid as a fortress, for the old oak beams had
resisted Time so long that the tired years had resigned themselves to siege instead of
assault, and the protective hills and woods rendered it impregnable against the
centuries. The beleaguered inhabitants felt safe. It was a delightful, cosy feeling, yet
excitement and surprise were in it too. Anything might happen, and at any moment.
This, at any rate, was how Judy and Tim felt the personality of the old Mill House,
calling it Daddy's Castle. Maria expressed no opinion. She felt and knew too much to
say a word. She was habitually non- committal. She shared the being of the ancient
building, as the building shared the landscape out of which it grew so naturally. Having
been born last, her inheritance of coming Time exceeded that of Tim and Judy, and she
lived as though thoroughly aware of her prerogative. In quiet silence she claimed
everything as her very own.
The Mill House, like Maria, never moved; it existed comfortably; it seemed independent
of busy, hurrying Time. So thickly covered was it with ivy and various creepers that the
trees on the lawn wondered why it did not grow bigger like themselves. They
remembered the time when they looked up to it, whereas now they looked over it easily,
and even their lower branches stroked the stone tiles on the roof, patched with moss
and lichen like their own great trunks. They had come to regard it as an elderly animal
asleep, for its chimneys looked like horns, it possessed a capacious mouth that both
swallowed and disgorged, and its eyes were as numerous as those of the forest to
which they themselves properly belonged. And so they accepted the old Mill House as a
thing of drowsy but persistent life; they protected and caressed it; they liked it exactly
where it was; and if it moved they would have known an undeniable shock.
They watched it now, this dark December evening, as one by one its gleaming eyes
shone bright and yellow through the mist, then one by one let down their dark green
lids. "It's going to sleep," they thought. "It's going to dream. Its life, like ours, is all inside.
It sleeps the winter through as we do. All is well. Good-night, old house of grey! We'll
also go to sleep."
Unable to see into the brain of the sleepy monster, the trees resigned themselves to
dream again, tucking the earth closely against their roots and withdrawing into the cloak
of misty darkness. Like most other things in winter they also stayed indoors, leading an
interior life of dim magnificence behind their warm, thick bark. Presently, when they
were ready, something would happen, something they were preparing at their leisure,