Redcoat Captain: A Story of That Country by Ollivant, Alfred
[Frontispiece: ON THE WAY TO THAT COUNTRY]
A STORY OF
AUTHOR OF "BOB, SON OF BATTLE," ETC.
ILLUMINATED BY GRAHAM ROBERTSON
New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY LONDON: JOHN MURRAY 1907
_All rights reserved_
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1907.
Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
[Illustration: Book I headpiece]
BOOK I.--TINY TAKES COSY COTTAGE
So, after waiting faithfully for days and days and days, they agreed they could wait no longer.
He was a Redcoat Captain in the Army of That Country: she was the daughter of the merry lady who lived among rooks.
His had jolly little curls all over, with blue eyes under: hers was chestnut, with grey eyes like clouds in a lake.
She was between ten and twenty: he was a little more.
He was so tall that the Fellows called him Tiny: her name was Mabel, so they called her Baby.
So Tiny came to the Fort on the Hill where the sun used to set; and it was noon.
And the Fort was a round wall with a barrack-square inside. And through a hole in the wall a great cannon of artillery peeped out over the country to keep Them down: for They were always supposed to be there, though nobody had ever seen Them.
Then Tiny climbed in through the cannon-hole, and on to the barrack-square, where nobody was now only the back-view of Goliath, the elephant, whisking his tail in the stable, while the Boy, who saw to him, slept among his feet.
So Tiny walked across the square in the sun till he came to a door in the dark of the wall. And on the door was painted in white letters
O G R E
which the Fellows said meant,
Old General Roast End,
but it really meant,
Officers' Grub Royal Elephants,
which was the name of the Regiment.
And the Regiment was so named by order of the King because that pleased old Goly, so that he trampled less at night, when the Fellows wanted to sleep.
Then Tiny knocked at the door and went in.
And the room had crossed sugar-sticks on the wall, and a row of bottles full of little black and white marbly balls on the mantel-piece, and over them a great motto,
_Every Bull's Eye has its billet._
And in one corner was a pile of painted india-rubber cannon-balls. And there was a huge fire roaring, though it was summer. And before the fire stood the General, with his hands behind him, sucking something and warming himself.
Then Tiny shut the door, and began,
"I am Tiny; and I am going to marry Baby. How long will I stop in this hole, because about taking a house to put Baby in?"
So the General bent towards his boots; and his head shone; and his boots shone; and he bulged over the fire; and he said,
"I am Sir Goodall Grouse, and a Major-General. I had ought to be a full General if I had me rights--only they cheat so."
Then he bowed himself straight; and he was very red and tight; and he shot his neck till the veins swelled, and he shouted,
"And I don't care who knows it."
So Tiny, who knew Generals, pretended sad, and shook his head, and answered,
"When we go out to war, Sir, we always say that if only Sir Goodall came and did it, it wouldn't be a war at all, to call one, it would be a walk-over."
And when the General heard that, he sat down and said,
"You are a very promisin young officer _indeed_!" And he made a bump in his cheek with his tongue, and wrote upon the blotting-paper for ten minutes most industriously,
_Captain Tiny to be reccomended for promotion:_
Then he turned to Tiny and rubbed his hands and said,
"And now what will you allow me for to do for you?" And the clerk was so astonished that he poked in to see.
So Tiny told for the second time.
Then the General rolled the quid of toffee in his cheek very wisely, and he wrinkled, and said,
"Well. You will probly stop here for all time, and certainly for years and years. And you may take that on the word of Sir Goodall Grouse, who never told a lie, cause he couldn't think of one to tell." And he blew out his chest so a button flew, and shouted, "And what's more, I should ought to be a full General if I had me rights--and I don't care who knows it!" And he thumped the blotting-paper till it shook.
Then Tiny winked to himself and said inside,
"Hang your rights, Old Roast End!" but outside he said,
"Thank you, Sir. Now I feel a lot better."
And he saluted and went out, meek as a mouse; but directly he got outside he took to his legs and raced across the square, shouting and singing because of Baby and the house where he would keep her for years and years while he trained her how to be a soldier's wife.
And about next day Sir Goodall retired, because he said the Service didn't leave him time enough to roast himself.
And that is about all about Sir Goodall for now.
Then Tiny came upon his toes very merry to the place where the Fellows fed between sleeps.
And it was a great sort of shed under a thatch, with walls of whitewash sploshed with blood to encourage them on.
And when Tiny got there they were all feeding and complaining about A B C and D, which you have to pass for promotion in That Army.
For it appeared that the Commander-in-Chief at the Castle had just sent over word by Cooey, the carrier-pigeon, to say that they must all learn down to E now, or leave That Country.
And _he_ said it was because that was what they did in Willie-Land; but _they_ said it was because of spite.
For it was well known that the Commander-in-Chief's great ambition was a ride on Goliath. And the night before he had come and tried to climb on by stealth while Goly slept. But old Goly woke up in the middle and trod on his toe instead.
So the Commander-in-Chief had limped back to the Castle with his hump up. And because he had a curiously nasty nature, and bore malice a lot, he now sent word by Cooey to say that they must choose between E and exile.
And it is usually considered the greatest misery that can happen to you to be sent out of That Country.
For That Country is the Land-where-you-never-grow-old--so long, that is, as you are good and loving.
Indeed, if you live truly, you grow younger all the time, although your hair turns grey just the same as in Abroad. And when you are so young and so happy that you can bear it no more, then you die.
But directly you begin to go bad, you grow old. And then the right place for you is Abroad, where all the common people live, and grow horrider and horrider every day, and never die.
So naturally everybody born in That Country wants to live there all the time, except when they have to go away to Moonland for one month after marriage: for that is one of the rules.
But if you are not good and loving, then they turn you out, when they find out about you, which they very often don't for a long time, because they are so sweet and simple. And you are supposed to hate nobody in That Country; but if you do, then you try to sort of cuckoo him out by working under him with your wings.
And that was what the Commander-in-Chief, sitting in the Castle-tower, with his toe in a bandage, plotted in his own secret mind to do to the Regiment, because of Goliath.
For the Commander-in-Chief was a real villain, and already growing old.
So all the Fellows were sitting round feeding, and abusing the Commander-in-Chief.
But the Junior Subaltern, who was rosy and plump, was saying nothing: for he wasn't allowed an opinion.
So he was eating most instead--as usual.
Then Tiny sat down apart, and ate jam out of a spoon, and smiled.
But the Junior Subaltern peeped from behind a pink fairy-book, which he read with one hand, while he ate with the other, and when he saw Tiny's smile, he said a bit bitterly,
"I know. It's because it's strawberry. They keep _me_ on plum."
But the one next him, who was long and yellow, held his cup with both hands, and bubbled into it as he drank, and said,
"No. It's because he thought old Roast End was going to tell him off a treat. But Tiny tickled him, so he told off the other fellow who hadn't done it. I wish I could tickle like Tiny. It all seems so damb unfair," and he began to cry.
But the one next him, who was big and brown, said nothing outside, but inside he said,
"No. It's because of Baby." And he knew, for he was to be best man, and give Tiny away when the time came.
Then a Captain without medals rose. And he was black but uncomely. And he bowed up and down to the Mountain and said,
"I am going to Where-George-is."
But when the Junior Subaltern heard that, he peeped out again, and cried,
"Is that because of the Commander-in-Chief and E? You _are_ a lucky dog. I would too if I could afford it."
Then the black Captain looked at the Junior Subaltern; and there was a great hush. And at last the black Captain shot his neck suddenly, and spouted,
"Might I be so good as to ask you not to speak till you're spoken to?"
And all the Fellows said in a sort of chorus,
"Might I be so good, etc.?"
But the Junior Subaltern went back behind the fairy-book and ate a lot more, and muttered. And when he had quite done both, he rose and went to where the Boy was sliding down Goliath by the tail and told him off a treat.
[Illustration: THE BOY WAS SLIDING DOWN GOLIATH]
But the Boy brought up at the bottom, bump, and said,
So the Junior Subaltern shot his neck as well as he could, which wasn't very well, because he hadn't much experience yet, and he answered,
"Because I've nobody to tell off only you, because I'm Junior. Damb!"
So that showed the Junior Subaltern was learning soldier, which is to shoot your neck and say damb in That Country.
But the black Captain stood where he was, very proud and plucky, because he had done his duty, and it was a pleasure, too; and he said,
"And now some more about George!" and he chucked his chest, although it had no medals on it, and went on,
"I am George's cousin; only George doesn't like me to talk about it. So George is going to make a little war for me in Where-George-is, and I am to go and get killed or a medal; and either way I will be worthier to be George's cousin."
And when they heard that they went on feeding and complaining as before.
Then the black Captain, after a reproachful look, came towards Tiny.
But Tiny rattled with his feet on the floor, and screamed.
"Go way! go way! go way!--I don't want to talk about George or George's cousin--much obliged all the same thank you no though. George can talk about himself plenty without me, and so can his cousin. How d'you do? Good-bye!" And he shoved back his chair.
But the black Captain held him down very firmly by the legs, and said,
"You never want to talk about anybody but yourself, seems to me."
Then Tiny turned more Christian, and replied,
"You see, I'm so much more interestiner than you are, old chap. Matter of fact I don't want to talk about anybody; I just want to go to sleep, and think about a friend of mine," which was Baby.
Then the Captain shoved closer and whispered, because of the Fellows,
"It is because of your friend that I began about going to Where-George-is. For I have a friend of my own, to whom I am married. And you know her well, because you used to come and talk secrets at tea to her about your friend, when you didn't think she was going to be your friend at all but the Commander-in-Chief's from the Castle. But the King measured your legs to be half an inch the longest, so you won. And I have reason to believe," said the black Captain very cautiously, "that you used to cry together about it, you and my friend."
Then Tiny said,
"Oh go on, Pompey, go on!" but he blushed all over all the same.
So the black Captain hid his face behind his fingers, and looked at Tiny through them, for that is what you do when they blush, if you are a gentleman, in That Country: for that is one of the rules.
And when Tiny said after about a bit,
"Better now, thank you," the black Captain took his hand away, and went on,
"And I live in Cosy Cottage with my friend. And it is on the edge of the Common--you know!--where the gorse is, and the Pond, and the oldest donkey in the world nodding off to sleep under a thorn. And just over the way is the old yew with little Marwy's mother's grave close by. And in front is the Fort on the Hill, all handy, so the Fellows can wave to you when you sit in the garden in shirt-sleeves with Baby on Sunday evenings in the summer. And round the corner is the Castle, with the Commander-in-Chief at the window plotting mischief against you, because of Baby, and against the Regiment, because of Goliath. Only it don't matter to me one pin what he plots; in fact I rather like it," said the black Captain, who was a selfish fellow, and really rather like a common man from Abroad, "because I'm going away to Where-George-is, my friend and me are. But we can't take Cosy Cottage, so you shall have it."
Then Tiny's eyes shone, and he said,
"And may we _really_ have it for love?"
Then the black Captain wetted his lips with the tip of his tongue, and nodded, and whispered,
"For love--and a leetle money, please."
So Tiny gave him some out of his trouser-pocket.
Then they shook hands so that all the Fellows thought it was a fight, and ran up to help.
And after that the black Captain went away with his friend, arm in arm over the Mountain to Where-George-is.
[Illustration: COOEY! COOEY!]
And there the band plays day and night, seven years without ceasing,
_God save our gracious George._
And George sits all day in his mail-cart under the palm, and bows his head, and says,
Only the King isn't supposed to know about that, because it's his tune really.
And the black Captain became so very distinguished an officer that at last he was allowed to pick the things off the floor when Georgie threw them there in a pet, because the band sent in to ask if they might change the tune.
And that is about all about the black Captain and George for now.
But Tiny took a pencil, and wrote to Baby on scribbling paper,
_Come quicks-you-can see cosy cottage I have bought a bargain to put you in and don't bring mother unless you mustn't come without, because of long walks so tirin for her._
Then he ran down the Hill, and across the Bridge, and into the Wood, and called,
Then Cooey came from his fir, with splashing wings; and Tiny tied the writing beneath his wing, and said,
"Baby," and pointed.
So Cooey flashed away through the wood: for Cooey takes all the quick messages in That Country.
Then Tiny trotted back to the Fort, and took off his red coat, and put on his sailor suit, and went for a ride on the Common on Goliath, with the dear old Colonel, who thought nice of everybody, in the other pannier.
But the Commander-in-Chief stood at the window in the Castle-tower, and looked down darkly.
[Illustration: Book II headpiece]
BOOK II.--TINY MARRIES BABY
So Cooey sped with the writing to where Baby was.
And Baby lived with her mother in the Hall under elms.
And she was in the garden in gauntlets messing, when Cooey fluttered down about her head.
And when Baby heard him, she stood up, and held out her wrist, calling,
"Something for me, Cooey?" And she pulled off her gauntlets, and took the writing from under Cooey's wing, as he perched, and read it, while Cooey sidled and fluttered, till he came to her shoulder. And there he laid his bill against her cheek, and began to love her, very murmury.
But Baby, when she had read the writing, skipped, and cried,
"Three cheers!" and ran in to her mother, who sat with her back turned in a room with great windows and a shiny floor, and wrote round, chuckling.
Then Baby poked in and cried,
"Good-bye, mum. I am going to see Cosy Cottage that Tiny has taken to keep me in. And we will be alone by ourselves together, Tiny and me, till nightfall. Then p'r'aps I come home."
But when Baby's mother, who was round and jolly, heard that, she went thin all over, and she turned round from her writing, and cried,
"Oh, Baby, _please_!"
So they sat down and argued.
And Baby, who always wanted to know, said,
Then Baby's mother answered with her foot down,
"Because of mustn't be alone by yourselves together yet, you and Tiny!"
But Baby, who _would_ argue, only said, very dogged,
So Baby's mother said twelve times,
"Because of things."
Then Baby turned in her toes, and inside she said,
"Rot!" but outside she said nothing.
And when Baby's mother, who was quite pale on account of it all, saw that, she said,
"In my young days," which was a very favourite saying of Baby's mother.
But Baby only turned in her toes till her feet were almost straight sideways, for she had heard _that_ before.
So Baby's mother, when she saw that, said nothing, and just folded her hands instead: for she knew what Baby's toes meant.
But Baby, directly she saw her mother's hands, began to unturn her toes, and she said,
"Of course just as you like, Mother."
For it is with girls like it is with horses: when you pull at them, they pull at you, hut directly you let go, they come back to you.
And that is pretty well the same with everybody. So long as you say "Shan't," they say "Shall," but when you say nothing, and just sit and look sad, then they come and kiss you. For we all know somehow though we don't quite know how, that Will is one thing and Love is another; and Will is strong, but Love is stronger; and you can often get your way by Love when you can't by Will.
Then when Baby's mother heard what Baby said, she began to go round again, and sighed,
"Oh, thank you, Baby."
So Baby unturned her toes some more, and said,
"Of course I shall like you to come with me, Mother--if it won't tire you," which was quite a lie, but not one to count.
So Baby's mother answered rather weepy,
"Very sorry, Baby. I'm sure I don't want to be a spoil-sport. Only I must consider things," and she got out her handkerchief.
Then Baby turned her toes quite out, and she rose, and ran, and cried,
"Darling old thing!" and hugged her up.
So Baby's mother began to chuckle again; and she put on her bonnet and Baby her boa; and they started down the lane together, arm in arm: for everybody lives only a few miles off in That Country: so you never go by train except to Moonland.
And it is all country in That Country, only for the Town on the Tumble-down Hill: for all the nice things happen in the country; and it is mostly all nice in this story--except the Commander-in-Chief.
And at the bottom of the lane there was Tiny riding backwards and forwards on the swing-gate.
But when he saw them he jumped down and ran and waved; and Baby waved and ran. Only when they came where they met, they went shy suddenly, and turned their backs instead.
Then a jackdaw on the sign-post said,
"Chuck! chuck! chuck!"
And when Baby heard that, she turned her back still more, and blushed. So Tiny who had seen out of his corner-eye, went behind his fingers, to show he knew all about manners.
Then Baby's mother plodded up with her skirts in her hands, and said,
"Very sorry, Tiny. Only I must--because of things."
But Tiny only went astonished and answered,
"Oh, but we specially wanted you--didn't we, Baby?" which was quite a lie.
So Baby cheered up, and hopped, and cried,
"Course we did."
Then Baby's mother said,
"Oh, you are dears about it."
So they just loved her, because she was such a jolly good old mother.
And after that they all took arms, and walked across the Common with the oldest donkey in the world, nodding off to sleep under a thorn, almost as old.
And when Baby saw the donkey she ran, and patted him, and called to Tiny,
"Has he got a name?"
So Tiny answered,
Then Baby skipped back, crying,
"Is that _your_ name?"
Then Tiny, after a bit of a struggle, for he did want to lie and get the glory, told the truth rather grumpily, and said,
For the Colonel is allowed to do all the christening in that Regiment: for that is one of the rules. And Goliath, the elephant, was one of his; and so was little Marwy, the regimental baa-lamb.
Then Tiny, and Baby, and Baby's mother came to the Village.
And the Village was made up of Cosy Cottage, and the red pillar-box opposite; and that is all: for the villages are just a nice size in That Country.
And Cosy Cottage looked delicious under creepers, with sparrows chattering. And it was long, and low, and grey, and not unlike Methuselah, with a rather broken-back look, and one crooked chimney for ear. And there was one window behind and two before, with a porch between, and roses sprawling over all.
And in front was a little grass garden, with a lilac and a yew hedge round, and a gate made of paling into the road; and at the back a tiny yard and a boot-hole like a box.
 A boot-hole is a little place where you clean boots.
And it belonged to the King, as all the houses do in That Country, because that saves trouble; and it went with the Fort on the Hill.
And when Baby saw that, she hopped, and whispered,
"Oh, Mother!" because she loved it so.
And baby's mother chuckled and said,
"Yes, you _are_ a lucky child."
But Tiny said nothing, and took all the glory instead, which was rather a favourite thing of Tiny's, and quite a lie; for he'd done nothing for it.
All the same it was very curious that when Baby was with Tiny he told the truth on the whole much more, and kept all his lies for the Fellows.
And the more he was with her the more truth he told: so that it almost looked as though, if he went on long enough, he would never tell a lie, to call one, any more. And that is what they call Influence.
And nobody knows quite what Influence is, but it's what women do.
So you see it's rather jolly to be a woman, because if you're a man you can't, though you think you can, because of conceit.
Then they led Baby's mother into the house. And after they had fed her, they took her and put her on a little chair in a quiet cupboard by herself, and locked her in; and she was to be good-and-go-to-sleep till they came for her.
And that pleased Baby's mother so that she smiled.
Then Baby yelled and ran upstairs; and Tiny yelled, and ran after her; till they came to the topmost stair of all. And Baby put her head out and cried,
"I say! this is tip-top!" which was a very favourite saying of Baby's.
And Tiny came up behind her and murmured,
"This is tip-topper!" for lovers are lovers just the same in That Country, only nicer.
So Baby went with her arms, and squealed,
Then she ran downstairs as hard as she could pelt; and Tiny ran after her, as hard as he could pelt.
And Baby's mother, who couldn't be good-and-go-to-sleep because of the racket, woke up, and climbed out of the cupboard, and ran after Tiny as hard as she could pelt.
So they all ran after each other till they came to the bottom-most stair of all.
Then they all climbed on to chairs and sat around the front-window and spied.
And by the old yew there was the Colonel taking little Marwy to see her mother's grave, which he did every evening, dear man.
[Illustration: WHICH HE DID EVERY EVENING]
And on the Hill there was the Junior Subaltern with a huge slice of cake in his mouth scribbling E all over the blank of the Fort wall to show he could do it; for the Junior Subaltern was like a lot more, he wanted everybody to know he was cleverer than they were. Only when they saw they kicked him instead, which was rather depressing for him after all his trouble.
And on the Common there was the Boy giving Goliath a real old galumphing gallop round the Pond to take it out of him; only old Goly, who was a bit of a rogue, took it out of the Boy instead; which was rather a favourite thing of Goly's.
Then they took their chairs and ran, and sat round the back-window, and spied.
And by craning out they could see the Castle round the corner.
And there stood the Commander-in-Chief at the window, biting his thumbs, and watching Goliath.
And when he saw their heads, he shook his fist, and muttered.
Then Baby's mother said,
"Oh my dear!" and shuddered, and came in.
And Baby cried,
"Pig!" and laughed; still she came in too.
But Tiny shouted,
"Pooh! think I'm afraid of you!" and leaned his neck out all the further, and cocked a snook back.
But Baby pulled him in quick by the trousers, because of his career, and hoped the Commander-in-Chief hadn't seen.
And after that Baby fussed off into the kitchen; and they fussed after her, and sat on the dresser, and watched.
And Baby opened a little black door where the chimney ended in a hole, and looked in very cunning.
And after about a bit she slammed the little black door, and made a face with her nose, and said,
"I don't think much of this thing," to show how sly she was.
But Tiny sat on the dresser, with Baby's mother, and pointed his finger at Baby, and said,
"Don't believe you know one word about it, Baby."
So Baby turned her nose up and her eyes down, and replied,
"That's all _you_ know, Mr Tiny!"
And she said to her mother,
"I know a jolly lot, don't I, Mum?"
And Baby's mother chuckled all over, and said pat,
"Not _one_ word, Baby."
Then Baby ran at her and cried,
"Oh, Mother!" and hugged her; and Tiny hugged them both.
And after that they all sat on the dresser, and held hands, and swung legs, and sang,
_Three Blind Mice_
So Tiny and Baby were married in the dear old Church on the Tumble-down Hill in the Town, while the King in his crown rang the bell in the belfry; which was always his little job.
[Illustration: WHICH WAS ALWAYS HIS LITTLE JOB]
And Tiny and Baby truly believed that it was the only wedding that had ever been since the world began; only it wasn't though.
And Tiny wore his blue suit; and Baby her clean white frock.
And Tiny was rather excited and very shy; and Baby very excited and rather shy.
And everybody was there, only the Commander-in-Chief; and he sent Cooey with a writing instead.
And Baby's mother sat in the front pew on the left and cried; and Tiny's mother in the front pew on the right and cried. But Tiny's mother cried most, for she cried _all_ the time; but Baby's mother smiled in between, and especially when Baby came up on the arm of the Colonel, her great friend.
And the Fellows lined the aisle with swords.
And they didn't cry, because they had no tears: they looked silly instead, but not sillier than the others, of whom there were lots, besides ladies.
And the Junior Subaltern looked silliest of all because he was so pink; and all the time going pinker, because of the ladies. And he did want to marry them all, because of his kind heart; but he knew he couldn't, because you mayn't.
And when he thought of that he went quite pale, so that they took him out, and gave him a drop of lime-juice and water off a feather in the porch, while the people crept out to see.
Then they all came out of Church.
And outside the porch Cooey fluttered down from the tower with the writing; which Tiny opened.
And it was supposed to be written in blood, only red ink really: and it ran,
_I will pay u for your snuk. Cheek!_
Then Tiny turned rather pale: for he knew the Commander-in-Chief never forgot, and never forgave.
But when Baby said,
"What is it?" he answered,
"Only nothing," which was rather a favourite saying of his, and quite a lie; but not one to count.
Then they all walked back to the Hall under the elms; and there was a squash.
And everybody came, including the people, which they may in That Country.
And in one room were the presents hung on to a wedding-tree, with the Boy over them to see you didn't take any, and Cooey strutting about the floor at the Colonel's heels, very proud and puffed up; and in the next Tiny and Baby stood in a row and shook hands with everybody, including the Queen, good old soul, who wiped her hands on her apron first.
And Baby smiled and said,
"Thank you _so_ much," about ten thousand times.
And Tiny grinned and said,
"I'm sure we shall," about the same.
Only when the Junior Subaltern's turn came, he could think of nothing to say, so he looked foolish, instead.
Then Baby gave him the nicest smile of all, and inside she said,
"I will be a mother to this boy."
But outside she said,
"Thank you _so_ much."
Then the Junior Subaltern's mouth opened out, and he answered,
So some of the Fellows came and took him away by the arms, though he screamed and struggled a good lot--as usual.
And after that Tiny and Baby came out of doors.
And the mothers stood on the steps in the sun, and waved, and cried,
"Goobye! Gobblessu! Goobye!"
And the people cheered, and shouted,
"Pip! pip! pooray!"
And the bells rang; and the trees blew; and Tiny walked away under the elms, Baby on arm.
But the Junior Subaltern burst open the corn-bin where they had put him for a bit, and came back to the remains of the squash, his knickers rather dusty and his hair rough.
And because he thought it must be so very nice, he asked three girls one after the other, and said,
And they looked at him, and replied,
"You're mad. No; I won't."
So the Junior Subaltern leaned his chin on his collar, that had thumb-marks all over it, and said,
Then the first, who was proper, answered,
"Because I'm married already."
And the second, who was sound, answered, "Because I'm your Aunt."
And the third, who was neither, cocked her nose, and answered,
"Because of beastly cheek."
And when the Junior Subaltern heard that, he went very tired, and walked home to his mother.
And the Junior Subaltern's mother lived in a cottage under the sky, with a wood at the bottom, where the thrushes sang. And all about you, as you walked in the wood, was green moss and trunks of trees and dappled sunshine; and all above you were leaves with the wind in them like waves foaming; and beyond that, blue sky where a lark rippled.
But the Junior Subaltern cared for none of that now, and just sat down with his back to it all, and ate no dinner to call any for him, because things were so hard.
So his mother sent for the good old doctor, who came on his cob, and leaned a trumpet against the Junior Subaltern's chest.
Then the Junior Subaltern said faintly,
"Are you there?" because he thought it was a telephone, like they have in Abroad.
But the doctor answered,
So the Junior Subaltern said it,
And the Doctor listened down the trumpet and said,
"I hear a guilty conscience."
Then the Junior Subaltern sent his mother out of the room quick to get a second opinion.
So his mother went to fetch the vet.
Then the Junior Subaltern confessed in a whisper about the drop of you-know off the feather in the porch, and said,
"Only don't tell mother."
Just then his mother tramped back in muddy boots and said she couldn't find him.
So the good old doctor washed his hands and said it didn't matter; and he dried them before the fire, and went wise, and said,
"Er--I think a little careful regulation of the diet will set things straight. Er--I was just telling your son that I should only drink milk and lots of water in it."
Then the Junior Subaltern's mother took fire, and snapped,
"That's all he does drink."
But the Junior Subaltern climbed under the clothes.
And when his mother saw that, she wept, and said,
So the Junior Subaltern answered from under the clothes,
"Because I must try to get a little sleep now."
But the Commander-in-Chief sat with his hump in the Castle tower, and planned more E-vil.
[Illustration: Book III headpiece]
BOOK III.--TINY AND BABY IN MOONLAND
Tiny came to the Station, Baby on arm.
And there the train was waiting with a white rosette on the puff part.
And they got in, and Tiny leaned out, and shook hands confidentially with the nice old guard, who locked the door in return, though there was nobody else to go, only a milk-can.
For it is a private train that goes once a day loaded with honeymoon couples only, by order of the King, who is very good and kind, although he has to be so strict.
Then Tiny said to the driver,
"Moonland, please!" and came in, and shut all the windows without asking Baby's leave, and turned up his collar, and sat down in the cosiest corner, and after a good big yawn went to sleep: for that is what you do if you are a man even in That Country.
But Baby played with the window-strap in the corner furthest away, and smiled.
And after that the train went till it could go no further, because of no more land to go on.
Then Tiny woke up in a great fuss: for Tiny was always either asleep or in a terrible state; and he poked out and cried,
"Good! here we are. Come along, I say! Come along. _Do_ come along, Ma-bel." And he climbed down with the bag full of luggage, and Baby after him with her cage of canary.
And they stood together on the platform, and looked about them.
And it was about morning by now, and the sky was a sort of grey blank, and the platform quite bare only for a great label across it that said in huge letters,
And Moonland is a great space with nothing in it only a green hill, a brown moor, and in the middle a blue lake supposed to have a fish in it.
And on the edge of the lake is a stodgy house made of mud and dirt, whitewashed over, where they let lodgings; only nobody takes them.
And when Baby saw that, she stood on one leg, and whistled,
"I say! _do_ look," because she loved it so.
But Tiny, who only really cared about his food, answered,
"Yes, yes, my dear, I know, I know," and fussed off with the bag, and climbed on to the box of the cab, because, he said, he was such friends with the cabman, and began to whip up the horse, and tug at the reins, shouting,
"Gee-woa! Gee-woa!" for it was one of Tiny's things that he thought he was very good at a horse.
But the cabman, who was rusty and crusty in an old top-hat, said,
"Leggo, will ye?" and went into Tiny's wind with his elbow to quiet him.
So they drove across the moor, over the hill, down to the lake, till they came to the house.
And in the window hung a cardboard saying,
_Lessons, Singing, and Boxing taught here:_ for it is a school as well as a lodging; only no pupils come.
And in the porch the landlady was sitting in curls, playing with her thumbs rather dumpily.
But when Tiny bustled down with the bag, yelling,
"Lodgin' fer two, quick, please!" she cheered up, and ran round, and cooked a little cake, and gave it them; only they couldn't eat it, because of too tough.
So they turned their backs, and had sandwiches out of the bag instead; which was rather depressing for the landlady after all her trouble.
And after that Tiny and Baby were alone by themselves together, because they might be now; which is called honeymoon.
[Illustration: ALONE BY THEMSELVES TOGETHER]
And it was Autumn, and jolly.
And Baby always said she liked Autumn best, because she did: for Baby always had good reasons for everything.
And the woods were golden, and the moors brown, and the sea grey on the edge of everywhere.
And every morning they went out arm in arm. And when they got outside, Baby let go of Tiny, and bustled along at a great pace with her arms swinging, crying,
"I go one hundred miles to-day. How far d'you?"
Then Tiny caught her up, and passed her, and panted,
"Twice the same."
So Baby said,
"Then go. I sit and watch you," and she sat down plump in a puddle by the edge of the lake.
So Tiny came back, and sat beside her, and said in her ear,
"Why d'you lie so, Baby?"
But Baby only hugged her knees, and giggled,
"Because I don't."
And after that it poured; and they sat all day in a puddle in the rain, by the edge of the lake, and simplee loved it.
And when Baby felt the rain on her face, she cried,
"Isn't rain jolly?--I like it better than anything only fine."
But Tiny only aimed both eyes so they met at the end of his nose, where a raindrop was, and he shot his tongue, and curled it up tight, and took the drop off on the tip.
And when Baby saw that, she threw back, and roared, and said,
"Oh, Tiny! you are a little raskil! pomme-word you are!"
But Tiny only waggled his shoulders, and bubbled his eyes, and did it again to a new drop.
And that is all they said and did, because that is all you've got to say and do.
Only when a pi-looking person squelched by in goloshers, they wound round, and lifted up their faces, and screamed together,
"Two ittle tots On the spwee-wee-wee, Out of the Nurser-wee-wee, Two and anover Make thwee-wee-wee, So come you and join you With we, we, we."
But the pi person only stopped, and looked through her spectacles, and said pretty severely,
"I thank you--no!"
And she tramped on under her umbrella, with her skirts hitched high.
Then one day it stopped raining. So they set out one behind the other very secretly to explore the moor.
And they found great pools, and tiny fairy water-falls, and water-slides shooting over green rocks. And Baby wanted to take her clothes off and go in, but Tiny said he'd tell if she did.
So in the end Baby went in with her clothes on, and loved it; and Baby called that an accident, which was quite a lie.
And after that they found the two loveliest mountain-ferns there are, called the beech and the oak fern; at least Baby found the ferns, while Tiny steamed on in front in a perspiration, calling,
"Come on! come on! Else we shall never get there."
For Tiny always wanted to get somewhere, he didn't know quite where, only that it was just on in front. But when he got as far as in front, he always found it was a little further, and so on etc.
Then they climbed the hill.
And when they got to the top there was a great wind there, and the sky blown clear, with the sea flashing far away beneath, and white seagulls floating and screaming between them and it.
And Baby was rosy with wind, and her hair splendid in the sun, and little tresses wild about her face, and she bowed and gleamed and yelled,
"I say, Tiny! Isn't it simplee tip-up-top?"
But Tiny only bent, and held her up against the wind into the sun, and looked, and looked.
Then they came down the hill, and home across the moor by the edge of the lake.
And it began to be night. And the wind went down, and the moon rose up. And the moor was black as ink, and the moon white as silver, and the sky shining like a diamond.
And a large great ghost-owl swooped about them on wavy wings, as they tipped along on their toes.
And Baby held Tiny's little finger and whispered,
And Tiny held Baby's, and whispered,
So they crept into the house; and up the stairs in the dark; and to bed by a star; and a little hushaby wind rocked them to sleep.
But Baby and Tiny weren't really so idle as they made out; because all the time Baby taught Tiny.
And she taught Tiny jolly well, although only between ten and twenty.
And _really_ Baby was years and years older than Tiny, though _truly_ she was years and years younger.
And Baby began Tiny from the very beginning and taught him up, because that is best.
And she taught him most of the time _without words_.
And Tiny was pretty clever when he tried, which he honestly did. And it was wonderful how quick he picked it up.
And really Tiny had learnt it all before from his mother in the nursery, only he thought he'd forgotten it. But when Baby began to teach him, it all came back quick. So that made it easy for Baby to teach, and for Tiny to learn.
Then Baby, when she found how well grounded Tiny had been, sat in a white frock, with chestnut hair, and wrote to Tiny's mother a thank-you-for-my-nice-husband letter, which you do in That Country after the first month, if you find him satisfactory.
And Tiny's mother was so pleased when she got the letter that she cried.
And Tiny's mother lived by the willow near the bridge. And when the wind blew the willow turned white. And Tiny's mother when she lay in bed could just see the top branches black in the moon as they stirred to and fro. And whenever she woke she could hear the wind in the willow tree, like the rustle of angels; and at the back of the rustle was the groaning of ghosts under the bridge.
But the rustle of angels went on always and always; and the groaning of ghosts only at times.
And that is like things as they really are: for Love goes on for ever, but Pain only at times--just enough to remind you.
So Baby taught Tiny. And at last she got him so far that he even learnt to stand on the rug, with his hands behind him, and say,
"Sorry," when he should, which was mostly always.
So that showed a good come on: for Tiny was like a lot more, he never said Sorry when he could say anything else.
But Baby was in the wrong herself sometimes.
And when she was in the wrong, Tiny was in the right. And that pleased Tiny; but it made Baby mad. For Baby wanted to be right all the time always herself, and nobody else; only she couldn't, because you can't: for that's how things aren't.
So she went under a cloud instead; and there was no more sun for Tiny for that time.
Then Tiny nursed Baby to win the sun back. And when he had nursed her till he was about dead, she forgave him for being in the right, and took him back; and the sun came out again.
And after that Baby sat upon him very pleasantly, while they sang the Sorry Song they had made, which goes,
"When you've been naughty, when you've done wrong, When you've been sulky instead of a song, When you've been stubbin, and think you've been strong, Then be a good girl and say Sorry--
_I'll be a good girl and say Sorry._
"When you have said something sounds like a swear, When you have been in a jolly old tear, When you've behaved like a beast of a bear, Then be a good boy and say Sorry--
_I'll be a good boy and say Sorry._
"When we are sad and yet remain dry, When we feel sort of we wish we could die, Perhaps we'd be better, perhaps we could cry, If we'd only be good and say Sorry--
_We'll be good boy-and-girl and say Sorry."_
Then Tiny hugged Baby; and Baby squealed; and the landlady ran like a lightning pudding, and looked in.
And when she saw, that pleased the landlady, so that she smiled.
So some time went by.
Then one evening after tea, as Tiny lay flat in a fat chair with his legs out, and slept aloud, which he always did till bedtime, when he woke up very spry and wanted to lecture on his favourite subject, Baby came in with a secret smile and the great picture alphabet-book she had given him for wedding-present under her arm.
But directly Tiny saw the book, he held tight to the chair with his arms, and kicked towards Baby with both feet, and screamed,
"I won't! I won't! I won't!"
But Baby put the book on the table, and a little straight-up thin chair by it, and called very bright and firm,
Then Tiny pretended asleep louder than ever, and said,
So Baby said,
"To work up E for promotion."
Then Tiny whimpered through his nose,
"Tiny don't want. Tiny tired," which was quite a lie.
But Baby only smiled and said,
"Tiny must. Else I won't be married to Tiny."
So Tiny climbed out of the fat chair, and lowered himself on the thin one, saying rather tearfully,
"I don't care. I don't think it's fair. I take you on my honey-moon with me, and all you do in return is to make me sit up and swank." And he slammed the book about a bit.
But Baby paid no heed, because it's best not, when they're like that: for when they see you take no notice, they soon get over it.
So she just climbed into her chair instead and ate her bread and milk, and watched Tiny over it, working away at E straight up at the table.
And after about a bit Baby leaned over and took the book away, and said,
"And now try."
[Illustration: AND TOOK THE BOOK AWAY]
So Tiny came out of his hands, and shut his eyes, and opened his mouth, and said very slow,
"E was an Elephant ever so Big Danced on a Beer-barrel jig-a-jig-jig."
Then Baby hammered the table with her spoon, and cried,
"All correct. Well done, Tiny-boy. Very well said indeed, indeed."
But Tiny asked with his eye-brows, and prayed with his hands,
"Enough for one night, Baby?"
So Baby went back to her bread-and-milk, and said,
"Very well, then. Some more to-morrow, though, because of the Commander-in-Chief."
But Tiny answered,
"Good time now; bad time never," which was rather a favourite saying of his.
And he got up from the thin chair, and fainted away in the fat one, murmuring,
"Tiny, sleep a lirel longer, Till the lirel limbs are stronger, Sleep, my lirel one, sleep, my prery one, Sleep."
And about the middle of that very night, Cooey flew in at the window, with a writing under his wing; for the windows have to be open all the time in That Country: for that is one of the rules; and you have to keep the rules everywhere always just the same--else you suffer; which is Law.
Then Tiny sat up in bed, and read the writing by the moon; while Cooey perched on Baby's shoulder, as she slept, and crooned to her.
And the writing ran in a great blob hand like a baby's,
_Come back at once. Cowud. Leaving it all to me to do. And I never would have believed it of u. This is one for your snuk. There is Goliuf to pay for yet._
_The Hon. St Jack-Assquire._
_P.S.--I am getting ready a nice supprize for u and the Redgment._
Then Tiny shut his eyes, and folded his hands very piously, and said a lot of things low to himself.
And after that he scribbled on the back of the writing,
"Charmed, I'm shaw," and gave it Cooey, who splashed out of the window with it.
And when the splashing of Cooey's wings had died away, Tiny got up, and bent over Baby as she slept and whispered in her ear,
"Good-bye, Baby. Now I go home."
Then Baby woke up quick, and stood up on her elbows in bed, and said,
So Tiny answered,
"Because I have had enough for now, thank-you," for he didn't want to frighten Baby; and he sat on the edge of the bed, and got into his sock.
And when that was done, he took up the bag full of luggage, and the canary by the cage, for Baby had taught him how to carry both now, and trotted downstairs with them.
But Baby crept up to the landlady's door on tip-toe, so as not to disturb her--for they had grown to love the landlady, because she was so good and fat--and shoved a note of paper under the crack.
And on it outside was,
With love from Baby and Tiny.
And in it inside was a sixpenny, which was a penny more than they owed her, so that she could retire on it if she liked.
Which she did.
Then Tiny and Baby went out of doors into the dusk.
And one moist star was stuck over the top of the hill, which looked like a black tent against a grey sheet: for the sun was going to get up soon.
And on the top of the hill under the star was a little madman waving both arms, which he always did, when he thought he saw the sun, to tell the people time to get up.
Only sometimes he made a mistake, and it was the moon instead.
Then the people all went back to bed, and were cross, and gave it the little madman when he came down from the hill at midday for his bun.
So Tiny and Baby walked away over the moor in the white of the dawn, arm in arm, back to That Country.
[Illustration: Book IV headpiece]
BOOK IV.--TINY AND BABY GO HOME
So Tiny and Baby came back to That Country, and staid with the mothers, one hour with each mother: for that is one of the rules.
And when they were gone, each mother sat down all day in the table in the window in the sun, and wrote round: four sheets to everybody, four hundred sheets in all.
And Baby's mother chuckled, because she was so happy; and _she_ thumped her envelope with her fist: but Tiny's mother cried, because she loved that best; and she smoothed hers with the flat of her hand.
Then Tiny went down the Tumbledown Hill to the Town, Baby on arm.
And the Town is an old ancient street with the Church on one side, and the Inn on the other, and the Policeman between; and that is all: for it is only a country town, although the capital of That Country.
And at the back of the Inn is the market with pens inside a wall.
And there the people come every Thursday to sell their things.
And when Tiny and Baby got there it was market-day.
So all the people were trying to sell their things to each other.
Only everybody wanted to sell, and nobody to buy; which is often the way.
So that made it rather difficult all round.
But when Tiny and Baby came in they stopped arguing, and began to stare instead.
And the Queen was there trying to sell a white moo-calf, because she said she wanted the money to buy her a bonnet.
[Illustration: THE QUEEN WAS THERE]
So everybody came round and pinched the Queen's calf, though nobody bought it.
And when Tiny saw that he went and pinched it too very shrewdly, saying,
"Ha!" and "Hum!" with his hat a bit on one side: for Tiny didn't want to buy the Queen's calf himself, but he liked the Queen to think he did.
And the vet was there running up and down on a string a little rough, round pony that pattered, trying to sell it, because he said he'd outgrown it.
And when Baby saw how rough and round the pony was, and how it pattered, she clapped her hands and cried,
"Oh, the duck!" and asked the vet if she might run it up and down on the string a bit.
And when the vet, who was rather hot and panty, said,
"Suttinly, Miss," she ran it up and down till she could run no longer; and after that she went into a corner out of the crowd with the vet, and gasped,
So the vet whispered,
"I'll leave it to you, Miss, because it's to a good ome."
Then Baby turned her back, and gave him some out of her sixpenny purse.
And she christened the pony Puck, and led him away by the string.
And a little further on the Junior Subaltern's mother was trollying a little go-cart about with the King in his crown in it, to try to sell it, because she said her son didn't care for it any more.
And the King, now he'd had his ride, said, nor did he, and got down, and, after taking off his crown very courteously, bustled off to join in pinching the Queen's calf; which was rather depressing for the Junior Subaltern's mother after all her trouble.
But Baby came up with Puck, and kissed her to comfort her; and after that she bought the little go-cart out of her penny purse, which comforted the old lady still more.
Then Baby harnessed Puck to the go-cart, and tied him by his string to the wall, while she ran and got Tiny away from the Queen's calf.
And they went round the pens together, and chose out some things, and some servants.
And there were about four things, and three servants.
And one servant said her name was Phyllis; and she was plump and brisk: but the Others didn't seem to know what their names were; and they were dressy and draggly.
And really the Others didn't belong to That Country, but had got in by mistake from Abroad, one Bank Holiday.
And Baby only took them because they wanted a home: for you mayn't sleep out in That Country except in the summer, when you mayn't sleep in.
And people only have one servant in That Country, except at the Castle, where they have none: for there the Queen does it all.
Then they shoved the things under the seat of the little cart; and Tiny and Baby got up; and Baby cracked the whip; and Tiny tugged the reins; and Puck started off for Cosy Cottage at a run-away patter; while Phyllis walked and the Others trailed behind.
And when they got to the Common everything was exactly as they had left it, with Methuselah just nodding off to sleep under the thorn; and by the yew the Colonel standing with his shako off, and little Marwy on a string, visiting her mother's grave.
For it was about evening by now.
And they could see the Fort on the Hill in the sunset, and some of the Fellows playing pranky on the wall: while the Junior Subaltern was hiding behind a buttress, gulping the sponge-cake they swab out the great cannon with.
And the rooks were cawing home in the dusk; and the starlings whirred and chirred among the gorse; and old Goly rolled down the Hill from the Fort with the letters, the Boy holding on to his tail, because he said he would do brake.
And as they came to Cosy Cottage, the stars came out and shone, and the sparrows chattered as they went to bed in the creepers.
And when Baby saw that she trembled and whispered,
"I say, Tiny!" because she loved it so.
But round the corner the Commander-in-Chief waited at the Castle-window.
And when he saw them drive up he smiled.
Then as they got down, all of a sudden a merry little voice from the boot-hole began to sing,
"I'm Master Mischeevous, My conduct's so grievous, They've bottled me tight In a hole--O! But I laugh--ha! ha! ha! And I sing--tra-la-la! For they never can bottle My soul--O!"
Then Baby clutched Tiny's arm, and whispered,
But Tiny only put his finger to his lips, and led round to the back on his toes. And there he unlocked the door of the boot-hole, and whispered,
So Baby peeped round Tiny's shoulder.
And there was a dear little brown mannikin, only so high, with a winky way with him, who scuttled about on bandy legs, and nibbled a nut.
Then Baby whispered,
So Tiny answered,
"By order of the King."
And he told Baby how the mannikin really belonged to the King, who had taken him away from home, to try to make a better mannikin of him, for really he was so very naughty; and the King has to be very strict, although he is so good and kind.
And the King lent him Tiny (by the secret advice of the Commander-in-Chief) to spit on his boots for him. And in return Tiny was to keep him good and tight in the boot-hole, only when he let him out for a little run in the back-yard at dark; which he did now.
And after he had done him up again, he went and hung the key on the nail in the kitchen, where it lived.
Then Baby and Phyllis went down on their knees in the parlour and undid the things.
And after they had undone them, they arranged them round the wall in a row, while Tiny sat in an easy chair, and made remarks, which was the best he could do.
So after about a bit Baby said,
"Now _you_ do some," and she plumped down.
Then Tiny stood on a chair in the parlour, and put his thumb against the wall, and hammered it; while Phyllis stood below with the picture; and Baby said from the easy chair,
Only it didn't take Tiny quite that way: for he got off the chair and walked about the room with his knees up, and corked his mouth with his thumb, and so on etc.
Only when he saw Baby took no notice, he soon got over it; which is often the way.
And after that Tiny and Baby ran up and downstairs at the double.
And when they got to the top and bottom, they turned and ran down and up again.
And they got in Phyllis's way rather as she tidied up; but she didn't mind, only so long as they enjoyed themselves.
Then they stood at opposite ends of the Cottage, and gave the Others contradictory orders in loud voices.
But the Others didn't hear: for they had paddled out into the back-yard to find out what it was in the boot-hole screaming and scampering so.
And of course it was mannikin, who, when he heard them, came to the crack, and whispered them to undo him, and he would tell them something secret.
So they got the key from the nail, and undid him.
Then mannikin came out into the kitchen, where he wasn't really allowed, and sat on the edge of the table, sucking his thumb.
So the Others held each other, gasping,
"My!" and asked him what the secret was.
But mannikin only swung his legs and said he'd forgotten.
Then he heard Phyllis coming and scurried back to his hole in a terrible fright, and locked himself in, and shoved the key under the door.
And one of the Others came later and picked it up, to hang on the nail; only she forgot--and a good job too.
Then after tea Tiny stole out, and round the corner, and into the Castle by the back-door, to spy out the Commander-in-Chief, and the surprise he was getting ready for the Regiment.
And he crept along the passage and shoved the green-baize door, and peeped into the hall.
And there by the fire sat the King with his crown cocked over his eyes sound-asleep in the rocking-chair after the market; while the Queen churned in the dairy.
And in the darkest corner, under a shaded candle, sat the Commander-in-Chief with his hump up and his head down and wrote a letter very secretly.
And as Tiny looked, he sealed it with a black seal, and said with a snigger,
"Because of Goliath."
Then he rang for the Queen, and gave it her, saying,
"Important--Private--Secret. For Cooey in the morning."
[Illustration: THEN HE RANG FOR THE QUEEN]
But Tiny crept home in the dark, with a little rainy wind in his face, and wondered.
[Illustration: Book V headpiece]
BOOK V.--TINY AND BABY QUARREL
Next morning Baby woke up very happy, because she was at home.
And she lay and listened to the day getting up, which was rather a favourite thing of Baby's.
And first the Policeman tramped by in boots.
Then a cock at the farm crew a lot to say it was dawn, when it wasn't.
And after that just as the dark began to grow dim, a thrush in the lilac under the window cleared its throat, and began to shout,
"I'm first! I'm first! I'm first!"
And that woke a robin in the yew-hedge which piped,
"Cheek! Cheek! Cheek!" and began to laugh in its little way.
Then a rook sailed out to work, groaning,
"Aw! aw! aw!" which is rook for "Oh! oh! oh!" which is short for "Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear!" for the rook hates work and loves grumbling.
And after that the sparrows began. And as soon as the sparrows began, the others left off: for they knew it was no good to go on against the sparrows; for the sparrows go on for ever.
Then Baby got up, and went to the window.
And the sun was just up and staring white through the black of the trees: for it was about Christmas by now.
And the sky shone like a sword. And great white ice-bergs with shining tops sailed by behind the Mountain on the border of That Country. And old Methuselah, his ears hoary with frost, was trying for some more sleep under the thorn.
And on the eave above the window a starling, all purple and green and gold in the sun, was dressing. And as he dressed he was making all the noises no other bird can make. For the starling is like a lot more, he never knows quite what he's going to say himself till he's said it, only he knows it's never been said before, and never will be again.
Then the sun rose over the wall of the back-yard, and struck the top of the boot-hole. And at once mannikin inside began to sing very merrily,
"I hop in the boot-hole, As happy can be, As bold as a robin, As brisk as the sea, I chirp like a cricket, I buzz as a bee A-swing in the fox-glove, A-blow on the lea."
And when Baby heard that she ran and shook Tiny, who was lying in bed with one eye out, and the blanket tight round, and she cried.
"Get up, Lazy-bones! get up! get up!--Everybody's up and busy and merry long ago only you."
And she began to dance about with her hair down, singing,
"O, I say!--Shan't we just be happy here? happy here? happy here?"
But Tiny only groaned, and got up, one leg at a time.
And the first thing he did was to go to the window, and spy out at the Castle round the corner, with the frost on the roof.
And the first thing he saw was the Commander-in-Chief stealing out of the back-door in his bedroom slippers.
[Illustration: STEALING OUT IN HIS SLIPPERS]
And when Tiny saw that, he shivered, and came in, and didn't have much bath, for Baby had gone down; but took off his clothes, and put on his redcoat instead.
And soon he forgot all about the Commander-in-Chief, and stood before the glass a long long time, and simplee loved it.
Then he dragged himself away, and went downstairs, and did the lamp and the knife, which was always his little job.
And when he had finished that, he walked to the parlour, rather proud because of Captain in that Army, rather cold because of sore thumb and no real sympathy, and rather shy because of his redcoat, and Baby inside waiting to tease.
So he came to the door.
And when Baby saw Tiny in his redcoat, very tall, and jolly little curls all over, she thought,
"How _most_ beautiful!" Only she didn't say for fear of bad for Tiny, because she knew about the glass, for she had peeped.
Instead she played with his medals, and tapped him under the chin, and said,
"How _most_ booful!" which was much better for Tiny.
Then Tiny went sulky-shy and pulled away.
And when Baby saw that she left it, and went back to the window to watch a little figure creeping across the Common towards the Cottage.
But directly her back was turned, Tiny bent and looked at himself some more in the shiny tea-thing; and that pleased Tiny, so that he smiled. And the more he looked the more he was pleased. And the more he was pleased the more he smiled. And the more he smiled the more he thought how _very_ jolly, and _what_ teeth!
Then Baby turned. And when she saw Tiny staring she went up and down and roared, and said,
"O my dear boy!"
But Tiny turned his back on the tea-thing; and he was cross, because he was found-out.
Then he thought of a little lie, and cheered up, and told it; and it was,
"I was looking at the crest."
But Baby said,
"The crest is the other side, Tiny," which was rather depressing for Tiny after all his trouble.
So he went crosser than ever, because he was found-out twice now.
And he took off the bit of plaister that he had allowed Baby to put on his thumb last night, and threw it down, and trod on it, to show he would be master in his own house.
But Baby teased some more and said,
"Poor Tiny then! it was a shame, it was! He shall worship himself, he shall." And she said that because Tiny had told a little lie, and she was teaching him. And Baby didn't often teach by tease, for she didn't believe in it; but she did this time because Tiny had lied a little.
So Tiny nibbled his nails, because he knew that would annoy Baby; but he said nothing, because there was nothing to say.
Then Baby went back to the window, and said inside,
"Poor old Tiny! If I was Tiny and like so," which was very tall and little curls all over, "I know I'd be the very same only worse." Only Baby really was much nicer herself; only she didn't think so much about it, because of a girl and too sensible; and Tiny thought about nothing much else, because of a man and so silly. But Baby taught him so that he began to have time to think little bits about other things too; so that less time went before the glass; only it was rather hard for Tiny at first.
And when Baby remembered that, she went up to Tiny, and patted his shoulder, and said,
"There, old boy!"
But Tiny went back at her with both elbows to show he wouldn't be good.
And it was very wrong indeed of Tiny; and he knew that quite well. And the more he knew it the more ashamed he was. And the more ashamed he was the more he wouldn't own up. And the more he wouldn't the more he wanted to. So it went in a sort of circle, as it always does.
And it was like trying to climb a hill by running down it. And really a better way is to stick in your heels, and come up jerk, and turn, and plod.
Then Baby rang the bell to change the subject.
And when the bell went Phyllis collected the Others, and stood them by the door, while she ran to get mannikin out of the boot-hole: for he might come too if he liked.
But she found the key wasn't on the nail. So she ran to the Others in rather a state, and asked them,
Then one of the Others fussed about in her pocket, and found it, saying,
"Well I never!--Now however did it get there?"
So Phyllis answered, pretty sharp,
"It got there because you put it there," and she ran off with the key.
But the Others stayed behind, and agreed secretly to dislike Phyllis.
[Illustration: BUT THE OTHERS AGREED TO DISLIKE PHYLLIS]
Then Phyllis came to the boot-hole, and unlocked it.
And the boot-hole was a dear little place, very dark and dewy, with bricks for the floor, and a glass-hole at the top with wire over it, so he couldn't get out that way.
And it was furnished all round the walls with blacking bottles, and across the middle with a knife-board done up in red powder by the King's command, to make it comfie for him.
Then Phyllis tried to collect mannikin; only he wouldn't be collected.
So Phyllis said,
But mannikin only sat on his hands on the knife-board, with his back very round, and said,
"Becob I won't," which wasn't a bit like mannikin, for though he was so mischievous, he was very merry too mostly always.
Then Phyllis answered quite kindly,
"Then don't, my dear. I only thought it would make a little run for you."
But mannikin only said quite snappy,
"Goodness sake, go 'way."
So she went; locking the door behind her, to keep him good and tight.
And the real truth was that about a minute back the Commander-in-Chief had crept into the back-yard in his slippers, and whispered mannikin through the crack to tell him where the key was, and he would let him out to escape. For the Commander-in-Chief knew that would get Tiny into an awful row with the King.
So mannikin got in a fearful state, and ran up and down the door, and told the Commander-in-Chief about the key on the nail in the kitchen, and to get it _quick_! goodness sake _quick_!
Then the Commander-in-Chief crept to the back-door, disguised as a milk-man, and peeped into the kitchen. And he found the nail, but no key on it: for the key was in the pocket of one of the Others all the time--and a good job, too.
So when the Commander-in-Chief saw he was disappointed of spiting Tiny that way, he ran back to the crack, and spat, and swore most terribly, while poor little mannikin cuddled away in the corner out of range.
And the Commander-in-Chief said he must report mannikin to the King for trying to escape, because it was his duty: for the Commander-in-Chief is head of the Policeman as well as of the Army in That Country.
And he went on about how he would never have believed it, _never_; and how disappointed he was; and how he had hoped, and so on, etc.
And now, he said, however much it pained him, he must tell the King that mannikin only grew worse and worse, and make His Majesty promise to keep him tight in the boot-hole all his life for ever.
And after that he pretended to blub a bit outside the door to show how grieved he was; and then turned away.
So poor mannikin found himself worse off instead of better, which is often the way, if you try too much.
Only he soon got over it, and began to sing instead; for mannikin took nothing to heart very much.
But the Commander-in-Chief shuffled away across the Common in his bedroom slippers, very busy and bad.
Then Tiny grumbled some out of a book.
Only he didn't grumble it well: for he kept one eye on the book, and one eye on the window, to see if the road was looking through the blinds.
But nobody was, only old Methuselah, who crossed the road, a foot at a time, and leaned his head over the gate. And when he heard what was going on inside, he closed his eyes, and bowed his head: for Methuselah was like a lot more, he wanted people to think he was a deal pi-er than he really was.
Then, when that was done, and Phyllis and the Others had left the parlour, Tiny just dumped down and gobbled porridge without a word.
So Baby sat behind the tea-thing and ate bread without butter, for she didn't feel hungry. And when Tiny looked at her, and pretended he hadn't, she looked back at him, quite kind and true.
And when Tiny saw that, he was so ashamed that he went worse than ever, and gobbled till everything was all gone: so that he really had something to grumble about now; which he did gladly.
Then Baby played music on the table behind the sugar-bowl; and she was rather white, and rather tired; and she said.
"Very sorry, Tiny. Shall I ring for more?"
So Tiny snapped,
"Yes. No. What you like."
And when he had said that, he wanted to say sorry so bad that he thought he would unless he left the room.
So he got up and went out quick for fear. And he put on his cap and his cane, and went out of the front-door, and down the path joggle with his knees to show don't-care-damb, which was quite a lie, because he did care a lot.
Then Baby came to the door, and peeped at his back; and water stood in Baby's eyes; and she said low,
"I'll tidy up, and have everything square by the time you get back, Tiny."
But Tiny just joggled, and pretended don't-care-damb some more.
Then Baby peeped; and her handkerchief was at her mouth; and she said in a wee voice,
"Back for tea, Tiny?"
So Tiny answered,
"Dunno," and joggled down the path.
Then Baby gasped,
"Hope you will, Tiny-boy!" And she shut the door and ran, because she was taken blubby bad.
And when Tiny heard that, he could not bear it any more, for you can't if they keep on at it; and he thought,
"You _are_ a darling! I _am_ a cad."
And he stopped, and turned, and went back to the door as though he had his seven league boots on, to say sorry I'm a cad, which he truly was.
But the door was shut.
Then Tiny ran up and down on his feet, and cried at the key-hole,
"Lemme in! lemme in! lemme in! O Baby! I _do_ love you! Truly sorry! lemme in!"
But it was too late then.
So Tiny stood outside the door and wished he hadn't. And that is what Adam spent his time doing outside the Gates of Eden. And it is what most of us spend a lot of time doing when it's too late. And it very often isn't till you stand outside and wish you hadn't, that you know how jolly it was inside, before you had.
Then Tiny turned away down the steps no more joggle now; and he was so sorry he blew his nose.
And Baby heard his nose go from her room above, and she knew, and thought,
"You dear old goose, you!" which was a very favourite thought of Baby's, and like Baby to think it just then.
And she tipped on her toes in the middle of the room, and saw Tiny going through the gate blowing his nose to take the water out of his eyes. And when she saw that, she waved to him, only he couldn't see her, and she didn't want him to, for after all she was teaching Tiny, and he had been about as bad as a man can be, which is pretty bad.
Then Baby picked up her skirts, and did some steps before the looking-glass.
And she looked pretty tip-top; only there was nobody to see her only herself.
So she swung round, and stopped before the glass, and bobbed to herself, and said,
"You're pretty jolly, Miss."
Then she remembered Tiny and the tea-thing, and she roared, and said,
"You're far worse than Tiny, my dear girl!" And she gave a twirl and a skip and kicked her hand with her foot; and was as free and happy as a lark because she knew she had won.
And Baby always won over Tiny, because she always won over herself. And if you can't win over yourself, you can't expect to win over other people.
And a woman can always win over a man, so long as the man is decently good, and so long as she goes by the Big Rule. For the Big Rule is the same in That Country as in all others.
And the Big Rule is,
_Love is Power._
Then Tiny walked across the Common.
And the road gleamed before him in the sun, so that it was like walking on a silver river; for the frost was oozing out of the ground, though all under the gorse-bushes was white still. And the ivy on the beeches in the Wood at the foot of the Fort-hill shone till it dazzled, while the beeches themselves were a cloud of purple.
And when Tiny got into the shadow of the Wood the road was hard again, and rang to his feet; and all the little pools were feathered over with ice; and a chaffinch sat on a bare bough, and pinked.
And all that was lovely. Only Tiny didn't see any of it: for he was so sad inside that everything was dark to him.
But when he had gone by, the Commander-in-Chief, who had been hiding behind a beech-trunk, came out, and stood in the road, with his hands on his knees, and laughed _most_ horridly.
[Illustration: Book VI headpiece]
BOOK VI.--THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF PAYS FOR GOLIATH
Then Tiny climbed up the Hill to the Fort.
And there the Fellows were taking down the wire netting, which they always put round the wall at dark, in case They should come on by night: for They were like a lot more, They were always supposed to be going to do a heap of things They never did.
Then Tiny shook hands with the brown Captain, and kicked the yellow one, and crawled through the wall by the cannon-hole, and out on to the barrack-square.
And the barrack-square was a sort of blank desert with cubicles all round; and the Junior Subaltern was making up the beds inside, which was always his little job: for the Junior Subaltern has to do all the things that nobody else will do in that Regiment.
But directly he saw Tiny, he shut up work, and came across the square, very silly and sheepish.
And the Junior Subaltern walked with his toes rather turned in. And his knickers were patched, and his stockings darned: for his mother was a very careful woman. And his collar had slipped up the back of his neck, so that there was a great gap: for his back-button was off, as usual, although they always put him under arrest for it whenever they remembered. But what the Junior Subaltern always said was,
"It's mother--not me."
Then when he got quite close to Tiny, he looked at his toes, and said in a very little whisper,
"Truly sorry, Tiny."
Then Tiny frowned and answered,
"I should just think you were. Certainly you ought to be. And now tell me, what is it you are sorry for?"
So the Junior Subaltern twiddled his toes over each other, and answered very low,
"For you know."
Then Tiny said very sternly,
"Yes, I know--only I've forgotten."
So the Junior Subaltern whispered,
"At your wedding."
Then Tiny remembered about the drop of lime-juice off a feather in the porch. And he wagged his head very sorrowfully and said,
"O dear! O dear! O dear!" And he walked up and down for a long long time, with his hands behind him, and his chin on his chest, groaning, and so on etc.
Then at last he stopped, and rolled one eye at the Junior Subaltern, and said,
"I forgive you on condition I may lecture you for as long as I like. D'you agree?"
So the Junior Subaltern answered,
"I should like to think it over first, please," for he knew what a lecture from Tiny meant.
So he turned his back, and dug at a weed with his toe, while he thought it over.
Then after about a bit he muttered pretty tearfully,
"Well, I agree, because there's no other way. Only goodness sake get it over quick."
Then Tiny took him tight by the arm, and walked him up and down, and up and down, and gave him the longest lecture that ever was all about nothing, and simplee loved it.
And the Junior Subaltern blew his nose upside down without a handkerchief, which you do when you want the tears to go inside and not out, and said every quarter of an hour,
"I say! isn't that bout enough?"
But Tiny only answered,
"No, thank-you," and went on.
So the Junior Subaltern said rather sulkily,
"Well, it's a good long go anyway."
Then when Tiny really could not think of any more, he made the Junior Subaltern learn by heart the Sorry Song he and Baby had written in Moonland; and after that he made him stand on the Fort-wall and sing it; which he did--not very nicely.
And when that was finished, Tiny said,
"That'll do for the present, thank-you."
So the Junior Subaltern scrambled off the wall, saying to himself out loud,
"Jolly good job too," and ran off to find the Boy.
So Tiny came to the whitewash shed, where the Fellows were now, eating more and complaining louder than ever.
Then when Tiny had counted them, he said,
"But where's the Colonel?"
So the brown Captain answered,
"In bed--bad with shock."
And all the Fellows said in a sort of a chorus,
"Bed--bad with shock."
And some said it was one thing; and some said it was another; and a good lot said it was neither. But they all agreed that Cooey had come from the Castle in the dawn with a writing, and had fluttered up to the Colonel, who was helping the Boy soap Goliath; and that after reading the writing the Colonel had taken to his bed without a word.
Then Tiny, who loved the Colonel, because he was so red and round and thought nice of everybody, ran up the ladder to the loft: for the Colonel always lives above the shed in that Army to be handy.
And when Tiny had undone the trap-door, and peeped through, there lay the dear old Colonel in bed in the dark corner under the cobweb, quite quite bald.
And his knees were cocked up, and his arms round them, and his little nose laid on his knees skew-wise.
And he was saying to himself in a weak voice,
"I am the Colonel. I love evewybody, and evewybody loves me. And evewything's always as nice as nice can be in our dear Countwy. Only I've had a bit of a shock--that's all."
Then Tiny climbed out on to the floor, and came towards the corner on his toes.
And when the Colonel saw him coming, he let his knees down, and went back on the pillow, and said rather faintly,
"Ah, my dear dear boy!--how are you?--how's Baby?" for next to animals, the Colonel loved Baby best in all the world.
Then Tiny shook hands and said,
"I'm awfully sorry to hear of this, Sir." And he pulled a truss of straw up to the bed and sat on it, and said very gently,
"Would you care for me to tell you about me and Baby and Moonland, Sir?--and the landlady, and the lake, and the fish there was supposed to be there, and that?"
For Tiny began to understand a little about illness now: for Baby taught him. Only he thought he understood a lot more than he did, which was rather a favourite thing of Tiny's.
But the Colonel shut his eyes, and said, "Thank-you, my dear boy, thank-you. Some day I want to hear _all_ about it--not just now though. Twuth is I've had wather a shock. So've you, my poor boy. So've we all. Only p'w'aps it's worse for you and my little Marwy than for the others."
And he opened his eyes a bit, and said, "Have you got into Cosy Cottage yet, you and Baby?"
So Tiny cheered up and answered, "Yes, Sir. We settled in last night, as jolly as can be. Baby sings all the time she's so happy."
Then the Colonel nodded to and fro, murmuring,
"Ah, my poor boy! my poor Baby!--bad, bad, bad."
Then he wiped his eyes, and picked up a blue writing that was lying on the bed, and handed it Tiny, saying,
"It's all in there, my poor boy--all in there. Wead it yourself. I wouldn't have it otherwise for the world. Still it's wather a shock--that's all: especially for you and my little Marwy."
Then Tiny took the writing to the dusty sunbeam that lit the loft through a crack in the thatch.
And the writing was in a great blob hand that Tiny knew well; and it went,
_Move to-day, u and the Redgement, and any more u like, to another Fort if u can find one. Why? Because I order you--I am_
The Right Honorary St Jack-Assquire, Own blud brudder to George, Commander-in-Chief at the Castle now, And hope to be Royal King one day.
_P.S.--I send u a midjut of me in my khaki with what Willie give me on my right turn. I send it u free, because to show I've got no grudge against u.... Shew it round. It shud encurudge recruutin. Send me some reports on this soon as u know._
Then as Tiny read it through for the second time, the Colonel said from the bed,
"Wather wude--ain't it'?" And he sniffed a bit. "But there! dear old St Jacky! I can't help loving the chap--he is so very stwaight."
All the same his mouth began to go, and he went on rather gaspy,
"I don't mind for myself. It's my little Marwy. Her mother's buried here. I think it will bweak her h-h-heart." And one tear went. "And it means a move for you too, poor fellow. Cosy Cottage goes with the Fort, you know."
And he dabbed and went on,
"I wonder what it all means."
Then Tiny, who was rather white, answered,
"It means spite, Sir," and he told the Colonel about the Commander-in-Chief's great ambition, and his attempt on Goliath by night, and his toe, and so on etc.: for they had not told the Colonel before, because they always kept from him anything that would give him pain.
And when he heard that, he said,
"I'm disappointed in St Jack--vewy disappointed. I thought he was a gweat man," for he always took everybody at their own opinion of themselves, which was very sweet and simple of him.
But Tiny tore the writing into little bits, and put them on the fire; so that it was like hell for the bits.
And he said to himself out loud,
"Debbel-debbel-damb-damb," which he knew quite well he shouldn't.
Then he ran across the floor pitter-pat; and down the ladder to the bottom, bump; and across the square patter-pit; screaming,
"I don't care! I will say!--Debbel-debbel-damb-damb."
So Tiny ran out of the Fort to tell Baby they must move out of Cosy Cottage at once, quickly this minute.
And a little woolly white dog came out after him in a great state, and stood on four legs, and barked till it shook.
But Tiny only ran on like lead.
So the little woolly white dog pretended he'd driven him off, and walked across the road and back very stiff on his toes, to try to take the cat in. But the cat just sat on the wall, and blinked instead.
Then Tiny pounded down the hill with his heart in his heels.
And the hedges on either side looked like crawly purple caterpillars with grey-green leper splotches where the privet grew; and a plump little wren flitted in and out before him as he ran, mocking; while the Pond on the Common beneath winked each time the wind blew, like a leering great eye.
And Tiny loathed them all.
So he ran across the little Bridge, and round the Wood, where the beeches flushed among the grey of the ashes, and across the Common among the gorse, till he came to Cosy Cottage.
And the sun shone on it; and the sparrows chirped in the creepers; and mannikin sang in the boot-hole at the back; and Phyllis was at the door polishing the knocker; and even the Others were leaning out of upstairs, pretending with dusters, while they tried to carry on with the King, who was cleaning the Castle-window round the corner; while the Queen scowled from the wash-tub.
And when Tiny saw all that, and remembered Baby singing so happy that morning, his heart stopped dead. And he stood with his hand on the gate, and just looked.
Then the door burst open, and out rushed Baby in an apron, with a scream and a scurry, yelling,
"O, Tiny! what _do_ you think?"
But Tiny only answered quite dull and dead,
So Baby cried,
"The Commander-in-Chief's been to call!--And hee came disguised as a parson--only he forgot about his cocked hat, which he was wearing. So of course I found him out, and roared. And when he saw he was discovered, he looked rather silly at first. Then he cheered up, and said it was all a joke done to amuse me. And really he was so sweet and smiling--you can't think. He bowed up and down in the door, and said he'd come to ask if I was happy in my little home, for that was all he cared about; and there were quite tears in his eyes. And when I said I should just think I was, he seemed delighted--honestly. Wasn't that nice of him?"
[Illustration: DISGUISED AS A PARSON]
And she hopped on the path, her hand upon Tiny's arm, and her hair all splendid and babbled on,
"So of course I asked him in, and showed him over, and all my improvements and that. And he rubbed his hands and chuckled, and said how cosy and comfie, and hoped I should live to enjoy it as long as I liked. And after that he asked how mannikin was getting on, and if he might see him, and said that was really why he came, and the reason of his disguise. So I took him myself. And he gave him quite a nice little talking to on being good and not spiteful and that; and said if he didn't try to escape perhaps the King would let him out some day. But mannikin behaved shockingly and cuddled away in the corner, nibbling his nut, and giggled till I was really quite ashamed."
And when Baby remembered that, and the Commander-in-Chief standing in the door of the boot-hole in his parson's clothes and cocked hat talking pi, she laughed like anything.
But Tiny just said nothing.
So Baby babbled on,
"And after that he shook hands, and said he could feel happy about me now--Wasn't it nice of him? And he took off his cocked hat, and went down the road, whistling. So you see he's quite a reformed character." And she laid her hand on Tiny's arm, and twinkled up at him, and said slowly,
Then she looked in her pocket, and cried,
"But O! I forgot. I was to give this writing to Captain Tiny with his _dear_ love. So you see, Tiny, he can forgive."
But Tiny said nothing, and took the writing.
And it was in pencil on some greasy paper that had folded a dead fish: for St Jack was good at insults if he was good at nothing else.
And the writing ran,
_I paid u one for your snuk. This pays u for your share in Goliuf. And I will pay u one more yet because I love u so._
_P.S.--I have got orders from the King to burn down Cosy Cottage before night, because I told him it had been lived in by swines, who had had swine-fever. So clear out at once or sooner._
Then Tiny wound round Baby, and walked her up and down in the road under the yew-hedge, where nobody could see, only Methuselah, who didn't matter, and told her all about it very tenderly.
And when Baby heard that, she went quite pale, and leaned on Tiny, so that he wound round very tight indeed.
But all she said was,
"Pooh! move to another Fort!--what's it matter?--means a change of house--that's all."
Only when she got back to the garden, and saw her little home so cosy under creepers, and the two windows in front so neat and nice, with tiny white curtains with waists that she'd put up herself that morning, and the one behind, with nothing yet, but soon would have, and everybody so busy and happy and good, she did blink a bit.
And when Tiny saw that, he said in her ear,
"You poor old duck, you!"
But Baby just hopped and cried,
"Pah!--I hate this little dog-hole. Not enough room to swing a cat in. Thankful to be shut of it."
All the same she let go Tiny's arm and ran quickly. And when she got into her dear little parlour that she'd arranged so cosy and stuffy and huggy-warm and tight up to the top with things, and Tiny's big chair one side the hearth where he was to have learned up E in the evenings, and her little one on the other side where she was to have heard him say it, she locked the door and sat down and began.
Then Tiny came up outside.
And when he heard what was going on inside, he tried hard to get in.
But Baby wouldn't let him.
So Tiny whispered with his mouth, close to the crack,
"O, Baby, d'you forgive for this morning?"
Then Baby came to the door, and undid a bit, and shoved her little finger through.
So Tiny took it, and said, all sobby,
"Best and booflest!--Gobbless. Gobbless. Gobbless. Amen. Amen. Amen. No more now. See you again some day. Bye. Goobye."
And he ran out.
Then as the clock struck twelve the Colonel marched out of the Fort, with little Marwy, the regimental baa-lamb, on a string, and his sword drawn, saying,
And behind him came the Fellows saying in a sort of chorus,
And behind the Fellows came old Goly and the Boy, drawing the great cannon: which was really what Goly was for, only they used him for rides instead.
And as they passed the Wood, the Commander-in-Chief sat on a gate, with his cocked hat on the back of his head and said to himself out loud,
"And if they don't find a Fort then that proves they're no soldiers. So out of the Country they go for shams. And if they do, then I come and plough the lot in E. So guess I've got um either way."
And he threw his legs about and laughed.
But the Colonel walked on without a word: for he was grieved about the Commander-in-Chief.
Then Tiny came by.
And when the Commander-in-Chief saw him, he pointed his finger, and laughed till he had to wipe his eyes, rocking to and fro, and crying,
"O dear! O dear! O dear!--Souse me, won't you?--It does make me laff so--you and Baby all settled in so cosy and comfie in your little home, and now turned out, and got to find a new house before night or leave the Country. E! E! E! Master Tiny! E! E! E!"
But Tiny marched on quite brave and steady: for he was true to Baby, and what she had taught him; which was Love.
Then St Jack laughed so that at last he toppled off the gate backwards on to his cocked hat, and bashed it.
But he pulled himself together, and scrambled on his knees, and pelted stones at Goliath's back-view, which he couldn't help hitting, and yelled,
"Fat beast! I'll have my ride yet, you'll see."
But Goly did nothing, only went with a whisky tail: for old Goly knew about discipline. Only he stored it up in his memory for the future all the same.
Then the Regiment marched on across the Common, only stopping to pat Methuselah under the thorn for the last time.
[Illustration: THEN THE REGIMENT MARCHED ON]
But as they were passing by the old yew, little Marwy baaed, and tugged away towards her mother's grave; where the clover grew.
Then the Colonel stooped, swallowing his throat. And he picked her up in his arms, and marched on without a word.
And they went down a rutty lane that seemed to have no turning, until by good luck they came to a Fort in a Hole at the bottom.
And when the Colonel saw that, he said,
"What about in here?" for he knew it didn't matter where they went, so long as they went somewhere. For the Commander-in-Chief was like a lot more, he had only one idea, which was to give trouble.
So the Colonel walked across the drawbridge with little Marwy in his arms, and banged with his sword-hilt.
And when nobody came, he peeped in.
And it was all empty inside, only for a lot of weeds, and an old speckled seagull with a dagger-beak, limping up and down the barrack-square.
And when the Colonel saw the gull, his eyes shone, and he said,
"This'll do. Come on," and he put down little Marwy, and trotted in; and the Fellows followed with Goliath and the great cannon rumbling over the draw-bridge behind.
Then the Fellows set the cannon up with its nose over the wall; for it was a low wall; and the Fort was in a Hole. So when they fired the cannon off to see if it was all all right, the ball only hit the mud-bank that ran round, and bounded back and took the yellow one's wind rather; which cheered Tiny up a bit.
But, as the big brown captain said, when he saw the cannon wouldn't shoot over the bank, it didn't really matter much: for it was the noise that kept Them down, supposing They were there.
And while the Fellows rubbed the yellow one, the Colonel ran and made friends with the gull.
But Tiny went apart, and wrote a writing on his cuff, and sent it by Cooey to Baby.
And the writing ran,
_Found a Fort in a Hole come quicks-you-can by Puck and get a house near by to put things in.--TINY._
And when Baby got the writing, she led out Puck from the shed, and put him in the little cart, while Phyllis held the shafts, and mannikin screamed a lot of orders through the crack of the boot-hole: for mannikin was like Tiny, and wanted everybody to think he was horsey.
But Baby and Phyllis paid no heed, and just did up the band instead, while Puck tried to bite them, which was a very favourite thing of Puck's.
Then they put the things under the seat, and Baby got in, with mannikin and the Junior Subaltern on the back-seat: for the Colonel had left the Junior Subaltern behind to sweep up; which was always his little job.
Then Baby took the reins, and tugged, and Puck went off at a run-away patter; while Phyllis walked, and the Others trailed behind on high heels.
And it was Winter by now. And Baby always said she liked Winter best, for the same reason as Autumn.
And the roads were good with frost; and Puck's feet rang as he pattered; and the robins sat about and sang; and there were red berries on the holly, and apples to chew, so Baby chewed them as she drove.
Only there were no houses near the Hole to be found, which made it rather difficult for Baby to find one. But Baby wouldn't be beat, because she didn't believe in it.
So she drove round and round the rim of the Hole all day looking.
And when ever they came to the corner of the road there was the Commander-in-Chief sitting on a mud-heap, reading up out of a great book.
And each time they came round he jumped up, and took off his cocked hat very courteously, saying,
"And have you found a house yet, Mrs. Tiny?"
And each time Baby smiled back and answered,
"Almost nearly quite, thank-you."
Then the Commander-in-Chief cooed,
"_So_ glad," and went back to his book with a little snigger.
But Baby flicked up Puck and drove on.
Then towards evening she came to a white house with windows under an elm with rooks.
And when Baby heard the rooks, one tear went, for it made her think of her home in the Hall several miles off.
And when the Junior Subaltern saw Baby's tear go, his tear went too: for his heart was pretty juicy still.
So Baby pulled up Puck, while mannikin ran to his head to show he knew all about it.
Then Baby looked over the gate, and said, rather trembly,
"Why not this?"
So the Junior Subaltern glanced over his shoulder, and whispered,
"Cause you can't," and pointed to a great notice-board in the garden that said in huge letters,
But Baby cheered up and cocked her nose, and said to show him,
"Can't I, Boy? Can," and she whipped up Puck, and nearly ran over mannikin, and went up the drive under the elms in the dusk.
But the Junior Subaltern did what the notice-board told him, and jumped off, and ran away down to the Fort in the Hole, as hard as his little legs would carry him.
And there they spanked him for being out after dark.
But Baby drew up at the white house, and ran up the steps, and peeped into the drawing-room, where tea was, and smiled in, and said,
"May we have your house, please, Tiny and me?"
Then the old lady put down the teapot, and said very graciously,
"Why should you, my dear?"
So Baby thought for a long time with her nose in the door, and said at last,
"Only because I like its looks."
Then the old lady, who was a very beautiful character, and great on giving up things, said very smilingly,
"Then there's no more to be said."
And she got up and said to her daughter,
"Come, my dear."
So they went out, while Baby held the door for them.
And when they got outside they remembered they were relations of the King's. So they tramped across to the Castle, and stayed there.
And when they were quite gone, Baby went in, and bagged a postage-stamp out of their box, and wrote on the back of it in large great letters,
LET by BABY,
and stuck it in the window to show everybody: for when Baby had done a thing, she liked everybody to know about it.
Then she tore out to Phyllis and the Others who were coming up the drive, crying,
"O don't I manage well!" for Baby really thought there was nobody in the whole world managed like she did.
Only when she got outside she saw the Commander-in-Chief sitting on the lawn in the moon, reading up out of the great book.
So she steadied herself and walked across to him.
But the Commander-in-Chief stayed deep in his book, and waved away with his hand, saying in a squeaky voice,
"'Scuse me, won't you!--Truth is I have to examine pore Captain Tiny and the others in E about to-morrow. Only hope they'll pass--that's all; because if they don't they'll have to leave the country."
But Baby stood before him in the moon and said, very grave and sad,
"You haven't been very loving, have you, Jacky?"
Then the Commander-in-Chief read on all the harder.
But Baby said, very low and quiet,
"Have you, Jacky?"
Then the Commander-in-Chief shut the book snap, and got up quick, and walked away with his shoulders rather high.
[Illustration: Book VII headpiece]
BOOK VII.--GOLIATH PAYS THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
So they moved into the white house.
And it was in a garden with a grass-walk.
And there was a lawn under an elm with rooks, and a drive.
And at the bottom of the drive was a cottage among currant-bushes. And there a little old woman lived behind a lattice and crooned all day,
"Little Old Lollypop Lived in a Stuffy Shop, Watching the Crickets Hop-pop, Hop-pop."
So Baby loved it all better even than Cosy Cottage.
And when, she and Phyllis had arranged the things round the wall, she sat down and wrote to the Commander-in-Chief,
_DEAR JACKY,--Will you come and have tea with me? Your loving,--BABY,_
to show she forgave him quite and quite.
But St Jack wrote back, very short and simple,
_No. I wun't,_
to show he wouldn't be forgiven: for he was a very straight little fellow when it suited him.
And St Jack wouldn't go, for he knew very well that if he did he would repent, because of Baby; and he preferred bad.
And besides he was kept on duty all day at the Castle just now, handing tea-cakes to the visitors, which he was rather good at; for St Jack's manners, when he liked, were very remarkable.
So That Country had peace and quiet for some time: for the visitors settled to stay at the Castle perhaps for ever, because of the tea-cakes.
Then St Valentine's Day came with the crocuses.
And on that day all the birds are married in That Country.
And after that the blackbirds join with the thrushes, and sing in the bare trees very rich and jolly: for the blackbirds mayn't sing till they're married, because that is one of the rules; but when they do begin they sing more songs and sing them better than the thrushes, which shout and whistle more.
And when the blackbirds begin the robins rather leave off: for the robins are like a lot more, they want to have it all to themselves all the time; only they just can't.
So they sulk instead.
Then Spring came, and jolly began. And Baby always said she liked Spring best, because of as before.
And the sky became a song, and the earth a garden. And the robins went into the woods; and the swallows came out of the ponds; and the larks ran up the sky; and everybody was glad.
And the sap rose everywhere, and rather got into mannikin's head; and he became so dreadfully excited that at last Baby took Tiny down to see him, because she was afraid his poor little brain was going.
So they came to the hole, and looked in.
And there was mannikin standing on the knife-board, and plugging the blacking-bottles on to the bricks.
And when Tiny said
Mannikin sucked his thumb and answered,
"Becob I like to see the ink splosh so."
Then Tiny, who loved lecturing better than anything else in the world, took the blacking-bottles away from him, and told him he was only making it worse for himself, and the badder he behaved the longer he'd be there, and how the King was very strict, although he was so good and kind.
But Mannikin didn't seem to mind, and strutted up and down the boot-hole, with his hands in his pockets, singing,
"I'm the cock of the boot-hole! I'm the cock of the boot-hole! See me! See me! I'm the cock of the boot-hole!"
And after that May and June came.
And there were tad-poles in the ponds, and lilacs with purple plumes, and chestnuts with white ones, and cuckoos calling and little flop-birds that tried to fly, and tumbled on the lawn instead. And everything was jolly all around.
And Tiny played cricket in the Fort in the Hole, while Baby sat on the wall with the Fellows, and watched him, and afterwards wrote round,
_Tiny played four balls, and hit one. The next bowled him, and the Junior Subaltern umpired him out. So that wasn't so bad--for us, was it!_
And every day when the Regiment went out to War, after the first pellet, the Colonel fell out, because he said he'd be a casualty now, and let the other Fellows have a go, which Tiny always took to mean him.
And the Colonel ran away bent up double behind the wild cherry-hedge till he came where Baby was waiting him under the laburnum at the little gate into her garden.
And when she had let him in, they ran hand in hand to the elm, where there was a great bowl of milk and a cabbage-leaf of strawberries ready.
Then the dear old Colonel took off his shako, and was quite quite bald. And he sat on a little stool among the elm-roots, and drank the milk, and ate the strawberries, while Baby leaned up against the elm with her feet straight before her, and read him a story of a naughty pussy-kitten out of a great picture-book.
And that pleased the Colonel so that he lifted himself on his hands and swung to and fro, chuckling.
And after that Baby had a grey kitten of her own, which the Colonel gave her; and she played with it all the time.
And every day she took the kitten on her shoulder, and went down the drive under the trees in the dappled sunshine to meet Tiny when he came home from the Fort, which he usually did about an hour after he'd started for it. For work tired Tiny very easily so that he had to be careful not to overdo it.
And Baby and Tiny walked home arm in arm, when they thought nobody was looking, though everybody was, especially mannikin behind the bars of the boot-hole at one end of the drive, and little old Lollypop through the lattice at the other end.
And Baby hugged Tiny's arm, and Tiny hugged Baby's. And Tiny looked down, and Baby looked up.
And Baby said,
"Now me!" and hopped.
And Tiny said,
"Now me!" and skipped.
Then both said,
"Now bofe!" and jumped.
And Baby smiled, and Tiny grinned, and neither spoke. And sometimes tears came because of nobody knew why, and sometimes roars because of so jolly. And half the time they were so wise you wouldn't believe, and half the time so silly you can't think, and whole the time so happy I couldn't tell you.
But with Summer coming, the Commander-in-Chief began to stir again.
For the Queen at the Castle came with her hands on her hips and said she could do no more tea-cakes just now, and they must ave mustard and cress instead.
[Illustration: SHE COULD DO NO MORE TEA CAKES]
Then the King cocked his crown, and asked if he might be so good as to inquire her reasons.
So the Queen mopped and answered,
"Because of too warm."
But the old lady, when she heard that, got up, and said to her daughter rather bitterly, for too many tea-cakes had soured her nature,
"_Then_ I think it's time for us to be going." And they went out with their heads very high, and camped on the Common instead; which you may as soon as the grass is dry.
But the King was really rather glad: for he was a bit bored.
And the Commander-in-Chief was glad too; for he was free to do his bad best once more.
And that very afternoon, as the Colonel and Tiny were taking their daily ride on Goliath--the Colonel with the sea-gull in his arms to give it a swim in the Pond,--the Commander-in-Chief, disguised as a nigger-boy, leaped out of the Wood, and tried to storm Goly by the tail.
But Goly just turned his trunk, and gave the Commander-in-Chief a good old clout instead, which sent him sprawling.
Then the Colonel, who was sitting towards the head, said,
"What is it?"
So Tiny, who was sitting towards the tail, answered, very loud,
"Only a dirty little black boy, Sir, whom Goly spanked for tweaking his tail." But Tiny really knew quite well, because the Commander-in-Chief's hump stuck up in the air, as he lay flat-face in the mud.
And when the Commander-in-Chief heard what Tiny said, tie raised his face, with his nose all muddy, and screamed,
"I'll tell the King! I'll tell the King! I'll tell the King!" and he buried his face in the road again, and simplee kicked.
But Tiny just cried back anyhow,
"Dummind if you do," for he knew he was all right: for if when you are Commander-in-Chief you disguise as a nigger-boy, you mustn't mind if you do get spanked.
Besides Tiny knew that St Jack had been growing so old of late, that even the good King had begun to notice it.
And Tiny knew _that_ because the Queen who was a bit of a blab, honest soul, had told him in secret that morning, when he went to the Castle for the washing; which was always his little job.
For the Queen does all the washing in That Country.
A few minutes later as Baby came panting up the lane with Tiny's boat, which he was going to sail on the Pond against the Colonel's gull, she found the Commander-in-Chief sitting in the middle of the path, fiddling his nose about between his fingers, and blubbing rather.
And when she saw how muddy his nose was, and how he fiddled it, she ran up with her eyes round-wide, crying,
"O, you poor little thing!--What _have_ they been doing to you?--Let me wipe your nose for you."
Then the Commander-in-Chief answered very brave, as he leaned back on his hands, with his nose up for Baby to do,
"Why, I was comin up the lane, when all of a sudden--pop! bang! They set on me--ten hundud times ten hundud of um. But I beat um off--and I killed um all." And he bubbled his eyes and whispered--"There was some true live blood."
Then Baby whistled as she did his nose with her handkerchief, and said,
"Strikes me, you are the bravest in all the world--only Tiny."
But when the Commander-in-Chief heard that, he slapped Baby's hand away, and scrambled to his feet, and bowed up and down with a sort of a smile, saying,
"Thank-_ku_," and went away down the lane with his hump up high: for it only rose when he was in a temper.
But St Jack was not the only one who was growing old in That Country about now.
For the Others, who had never been young, were aging very rapidly, because of Phyllis, who scolded them when they didn't work, and cuffed them when they did.
So one evening when Phyllis had run down to little old Lollypop for some fruit for supper (for you have pretty well all fruit in the summer in That Country) the Others came and stood in a row before Baby on the lawn, and said,
"Please, 'M," and the rest, like they do in Abroad; and let go a tear they had got ready.
So when Phyllis ran back up the drive, Baby peeped through the golden bush and called,
Then Phyllis came, with the great basket of cherries on her head.
And Baby stood by the golden bush, and pulled a leaf to pieces, and said, very grave and sad,
"Is it true?"
So Phyllis cocked her nose, and answered,
"Some is, Miss; most ain't," which is usually the way with stories from folk in Abroad.
Then Baby turned her face away, and said,
"You are very straight and true, Phyllis. So I love you. Only I must sack you all the same, because you mustn't pinch," for that is one of the rules.
Then Phyllis nearly cried, and said,
"Very well, Miss. Only why can't the Others go back to Abroad where they belong?"
And when Baby heard that, she went to the back-door, and peeped.
And there were the Others trying on huge flower-hats before the glass, and saying there was only one puffect gentleman in That Country, and he was the Commander-in-Chief.
So Baby said very gently,
"My dears, don't you think you'd be happier back in Abroad, where you belong?"
Then the Others turned up their noses, and drooped down their mouths, and said,
"Thank-ye for nothin--We was just hon the go."
And they swept out arm-in-arm, and flounced back to Abroad, where they belonged; and a good job too.
But Phyllis stayed with Baby for ever and ever.
Then about next morning the Commander-in-Chief came to the Fort in the Hole, and knocked.
And he was wearing a cap and gown over his khaki-coat, so people might take him for a scholar; and under his arm was the great E-book.
And when the Junior Subaltern came to the gate, and asked him what he wanted, he dropped his eyes, and answered very piously, "I have come to examine you all in E,--and especially my deah Captain Tiny."
So the Junior Subaltern let him in, because he knew he could do it all right.
Then the Commander-in-Chief came in, walking with his shoulders rather round, and his knees rather knocky, because that was how he thought you did if you were a scholar.
But when he got to the square, there was the King in his crown walking up and down arm in arm with the Colonel and Tiny.
And they were laughing and chattering all together at once; and the King was telling about his visitors, and how they had gone at last; and the Colonel was talking about the sea-gull, and how he had christened him Moses; and Tiny was telling about mannikin, and what a good little mannikin he was growing under Baby, who had him out of his hole every day to pick daisies, and taught him.
But when they saw the Commander-in-Chief slouching across the square, with the E-book under his arm, they all stopped.
Then the King stepped forward, and took off his crown very courteously, and said,
"Ah, St Jack! I see why you've come. Well. I'll tell you. I have just examined these gentlemen for you. And I know no one will be so glad as you to hear that they have all passed, and especially your deah Captain Tiny, as nobody ever passed before. So now you can go back to the Castle whence you came. Thank-you very much all the same. How d'you do?--Good-bye."
Then the Commander-in-Chief, when he heard that, bowed up and down with a sort of a smile.
And after that he slouched back across the square to the gate: for there was nothing else to do.
But Tiny ran before him in a great bustle, saying,
"Let me, Sir!" and held the gate for him, for nobody could be more charming than Tiny when he liked, which was mostly always never.
And as the Commander-in-Chief went through, he said most sweetly,
"_So_ sorry you've had all your trouble for nothing, Sir."
But the Commander-in-Chief ran away, snorting; and when he got outside he took off his moustaches and whacked his hand with them; which he always did in a passion.
And that evening he sulked so after tea, that the King got up in a rage, and after pouring the dominoes over his head, shouted,
"Look here! I'm sick o you. You grow older and horrider every day. Go to Abroad!" And he marched to the door.
Then St Jack sat very tight in his chair, and said,
"What ye mean?"
So the King threw his crown into the corner, and roared,
"The sack--that's what I mean!" and he held the door open.
Then Jacky went out in a terrible rage, the King's toe behind him.
And after that, Summer came.
And Baby always said she liked Summer best, because of you know why.
And she lived in the garden all day in a flap-hat and gauntlets, and messed, and loved it.
And the Junior Subaltern lived there with her in a coat of many colours and a white hat, and white shoes, and a little sash round his waist, and ate things.
And he loved Baby in a pink and proper way. And Baby loved him to love her, and taught him, so that he became almost like a little man.
And the Junior Subaltern was easier to teach than Tiny, because of younger and squashier. But though he learned quickest, he forgot quickest too--which is often the way. So it really came about to about the same in the end.
But when the Junior Subaltern was there, Tiny walked by himself at the other end of the garden with his back rather turned.
And because he was full of unkindness he too began to grow old.
And he became more and more like a common man from Abroad for the time being, and less and less like a native of That Country.
Then one day when Baby saw Tiny alone by himself like so, she put her finger to her lip, and said to herself out loud,
"I wonder why?"
Then the Junior Subaltern whispered,
"Because of about my umpiring him out at cricket, I spect."
So Baby nodded and said,
"Probly praps. Go and make it up. I turn my back." And she stooped with her kitten on her shoulder and gardened a flower.
Then the Junior Subaltern went.
But Tiny, when he saw him coming, only turned his back more than ever, and walked away, very proud and pokery.
Only when he got round the hollyhocks, where Baby couldn't see, all of a sudden he stopped and bumped backwards into the Junior Subaltern. And when Tiny felt the bump, he whispered skew-wise out of the corner of his mouth, very fierce,
"What ye mean by it?"
So the Junior Subaltern answered,
Then Tiny whispered fiercer than ever,
"Don't answer me, Sir! or I'll put you under arrest or something--you ugh!" and he pretended sick over the flower-bed.
But when the Junior Subaltern heard about you ugh! which is pretty well the worst you can say in That Country, and saw what Tiny was pretending over the flower-bed, he turned pale under the pink, and came up close, and whispered,
"May I be so good as to ask you to splain yourself, Sir?"
Then Tiny answered very short,
"No, ye mayn't," which was a very favourite saying of his.
Then the Junior Subaltern trembled, and answered rather hubbly-bubbly,
"I shan't love _you_ any more, Captain Tiny."
But Tiny just smacked the heads off Baby's flowers, and answered,
"Don't then. Duncare."
So the Junior Subaltern bowed up and down to Tiny's back, and strutted away, all puffed up like a little pouty pigeon, never to return till next day.
But when Baby looked up from gardening the flower, and saw the bristles at the back of the Junior Subaltern's head as he marched away, she ran to Tiny, and dug his ribs with the trowel, and said,
"What you been doing to my nice boy, pig?"
Then Tiny bent and gardened a weed, and grumbled,
But Baby dug him some more, and said,
"O you have!--look at the look of the back of his neck."
So Tiny came up from the weed rather red and sulky, and said,
"Only been teachin the boy manners--that's all."
Then Baby said,
"Well, I wish you'd leave teaching him to me," and she took Tiny's arm, and walked him up and down the grass-walk, with the dial at one end, and the herb-border on either side, all sweet in the evening, and taught him till he came good and nice and like you ought to be, if you are to live in That Country.
And next morning on his way down to the Fort, Tiny tapped at little old Lollypop's lattice, and said,
"Good-morning, kind Lollypop. Some red currants, please."
Then Lollypop came out in a sun-bonnet; and her face was all wrinkles and redness like an old crab-apple; and she picked some currants, and did them up in a bag, and wiped her hands on her apron, and gave them to Tiny, saying,
"There, young gentleman!"
And Tiny gave her his penny pocket-money Baby had given him before he went out, for it was Saturday; and ran on down to the Fort with the bag.
And when he got there he shared the currants with the Junior Subaltern on parade, when the Colonel had his back turned, which he had mostly always.
And after that Tiny and the Junior Subaltern became better friends than ever till next time, which you do in that Army.
Meanwhile Jacky had gone down to the market, and taken off his Commander-in-Chief's clothes in public there, and sold them to the Junior Subaltern's mother; who laid them away in a drawer for her son, ready for Commander-in-Chief in days to come.
And after that, Jacky swore by little Marwy, who was supposed to be dying, that he would have his ride on Goliath, or leave That Country.
Then he went into hiding in the Wood, and sent round a message by Cooey to say he wasn't there.
But that afternoon as the Boy rode by with the Colonel and the gull on the way to the Pond, he saw Jacky squatting in a hole he'd dug in the ground.
And Jacky was rolling a bit of paper between his fingers, and spying over his shoulder, to see if he was being seen. For he knew very well that what he was doing was dead against the rules of That Country. But he was going from bad to worst so fast that he cared for nothing very much now.
Indeed he was said to have said that, next to a ride, his great wish was to be like a man from Abroad.
Then the Boy, now he knew where Jacky was, lay awake all night with Goly, planning a booby-trap. And old Goly entered into it with all his might: for he loved the Boy, because they had jokes together; and hated Jacky, because of fat beast.
So next day they started out of the Fort together, the Boy riding with his red parasol up to attract attention.
And they went past the Wood, where they could see Jacky quite plainly, hiding up an elder bush, disguised as a cannibal. And he was holding something between his lips. And when he saw them he took it out of his mouth, and held it up in his fingers, and puffed: for he was pretty well dead to all shame now.
But they paid no heed, and strolled on instead.
Then when they got to the Pond they stopped.
And Goly went to sleep with one eye wide, and his back to the Wood.
And he stood with his trunk a tiny bit _retroussé_, and his tail the least leetle bit out towards the Wood to tempt Jacky.
And Jacky was tempted.
For after about a bit out he crawled in his disguise, and crept up on his hands and knees, and swarmed up Goly by the tail, and threw the Boy down after not much of a tussle; while Goly just stood still and chuckled.
And when Jacky had done dancing and screaming,
"There! There! I told you I would! I told you I would! ha! ha! ha! Who's won now? Who's won now?" he sat down across Goly for his ride.
And he dug his heels in, and bobbed up and down, to pretend he was rising in stirrups, and went with his arms like he'd seen men on horse-back, and cried in a bass-voice,
"Gee up, fat beast! gee up!" and slapped with his hands.
So Goly winked one eyelid, and went for a little bit of a canter round the Pond.
Then Jacky, who wasn't much of a horseman at the best of times, sprawled on Goly's back, gasping,
"I'm having my ride! I'm having my ride. O, I say!--Isn't it j-j-just lubly?" which was quite a lie, for he hated it, because of the bumpety bump.
So he was just going to slither off when Goly shyed with a skip and a squeal, and landed plump in the Pond.
And when the waves had gone down a bit, all you could see was the tip of Goly's trunk, and the top of his back showing above water like a little black island with a shipwrecked cannibal on it, screaming for help.
But there was no help to be had: for the Boy, as soon as he could walk for laughing, tottered back to the Fort, to tell the Fellows!
So the Fellows all came across the Common arm in arm to see. Only the Colonel didn't come, because of too kind. Besides he was sitting up with little Marwy, who was supposed to be dying of a broken heart, because of her mother's grave.
And when the Fellows saw Jacky stranded on Goly's back, they just sat down together round the Pond in a ring, and roared.
And Tiny tossed to and fro, and wiped the tears away, and said,
"Sense me, won't you!--It does make me laff so--you so cosy and comfie out there, Royal King of your own little island, and likely to stay there, for ever so far as I can see. E! E! E! Master Jacky. E! E! E!"
And all the Fellows tossed to and fro, and said in a sort of chorus,
"E! E! E! Master Jacky. E! E! E!"
So they just sat round all that afternoon and evening, and tumbled up against each other with laughing.
But about dusk, Tiny stood up, and said he'd been asked to say a few words.
So they stopped laughing; and there was silence. And Tiny soaped his hands, and lectured, and simplee loved it.
And he said pretty well what Baby had often said to him, only altered a bit, and went on about how Jacky's conduct had grieved him; and how wrong it was to be spiteful and bear malice; and how it not only hurt other people, but it hurt yourself most, because it soured your nature. And if Jacky couldn't be kind and loving then he had better leave That Country. And if he would neither be good, nor go, then they must put him out, for they had found him out now.
And after that he lifted his hand and forgave Jacky on behalf of himself and Baby, and the Regiment, and said he would now say goodnight.
So he bowed up and down, and the Fellows rose, and bowed up and down. Then they all went back across the Common in the dusk arm in arm.
And Jacky was left alone on his island.
But about midnight Goliath knelt down suddenly.
Then Jacky would have been drowned, but that he was washed ashore in the surgings that arose.
[Illustration: SWAGGERED OFF TO ABROAD]
And after that Goliath rose and waded out; and the Boy, who was waiting on the bank, dried him with his handkerchief, and got on; and they went back to the Fort at a good round trot.
But Jacky, when he had changed out of his cannibal clothes, swaggered off to Abroad, in a new suit, smoking a cigarette.
[Illustration: Book VIII headpiece]
BOOK VIII.--A SURPRISE-PRESENT FOR BABY
Then about next day the good old doctor rode over from the Castle very mysteriously, and asked to see Baby.
And when he had shut the door, and drawn his chair up very close, he told her in a whisper there was a Surprise-present coming for her from the King at the Castle; only she wasn't to tell any one, because it was a secret.
Then Baby opened her eyes, and whispered,
"Mayn't I know?"
But the good old doctor chuckled,
"Certainly not, my dear. You may guess--if you can," and he got up to go.
Then Baby got up too, and asked,
"When may I know?"
So the doctor answered,
"About to-morrow," and went out, chuckling.
But Baby stayed behind in the window, and guessed and guessed.
Then all of a sudden her heart leaped up; and she blushed and trembled so that she had to sit down.
So all the rest of the day she sat under the elm, very busy, making secret little clothes, that nobody was supposed to know anything about.
But of course mannikin must leave his daisies, and come and poke and pry and bother with questions, until at last Baby got up and took him by his little hand, and led him back to his hole, saying,
"You're a very naughty little man indeed. And I'm very cross with you--very cross."
But mannikin only swaggered along at her side, nodding his head very wisely, and saying,
"I know--I know," which was a very favourite saying of mannikin's.
But Baby answered very short,
"I'm sure you don't," and locked him in good and tight for the rest of the day.
And that evening when Tiny came back from the Fort, Baby hid the little clothes away, and walked about on his arm, talking poetry-talk in the twilight among the roses; and she didn't say one word about the secret.
But Tiny saw there was something up all the same. And when he went to tidy up the boot-hole for the night, mannikin came to him in tears, and begged him to get Baby to forgive him, and to say he promised not to mention one word about the little clothes.
And when Tiny heard about the little clothes, he thought,
"_Now_ I know!" and went pale all over with excitement.
For at that time every year, the good King sends a Surprise-present to the best married girl of That Country: for that is one of the rules.
And the Surprise-present is always the same, and so jolly you can't think.
So every nice married girl wants to win it; only you can't unless you have been truly good and loving.
And Tiny knew Baby was best by far; and he believed the King knew it too.
For as he was leaving the Fort that afternoon, he had seen the King whispering in the Colonel's ear behind the water-butt.
And when the Colonel heard, he hopped up high, crying,
"Dear old Baby!"
And the Colonel was Baby's great friend.
But Tiny didn't say one word to Baby all the same, but just gave her mannikin's message instead.
Then Baby cried,
"O poor little chap!--I _clean_ forgot him," and she ran to the boot-hole.
And when she got there she heard a tiny little noise inside.
So she undid and peeped.
And there was mannikin sobbing in a heap in the corner.
Then Baby cried,
But mannikin only sobbed,
"Becob you're cross."
So Baby ran to him, and said,
"Dear little mannikin!--It's nothing--only you mustn't bother with questions just now about things you can't understand."
And she sat down, and took him on her lap, and comforted him.
And mannikin leaned his head on her shoulder, and said, very sniffy,
"Lub me," for he was a sentimental little thing.
And he told Baby about his home in a cottage in the Forest far away, where he used to live with his old mother, and little lame sister, and the tortoise-shell cat, till the King came and took him.
And when he told about that, he began to cry again.
Then Baby jigged him a bit, and said,
"Now I'll tell you a secret the Queen told me last time she came round with the butter.--The King is going to let you out soon now, because at all events you _try_ to be good. There!"
And when mannikin heard that, he sniffed and said,
And after that Baby tied an empty reel to a thread, and gave it him.
And he quite cheered up, and bobbed the reel, and twinkled his eyes, and said he a little fisherman, trying to catch a Surprise-present for being so truly good and loving.
Next morning, as Tiny entered the Fort, all the Fellows came rushing out from the shed, shouting,
"Well done, Baby!--Good luck to you both!" for it usually leaks out who has won the Surprise-present for the year, before it is stuck up on the Castle-door.
Then Tiny stopped and said,
"But you don't _know_."
So all the Fellows crowded round, and they answered,
"No, we don't _know_. But the Queen got talking to the Junior Subaltern when he went to the Castle for his glass of milk this morning. So we next door to know."
Just then the dear old Colonel came up with Moses on his shoulder, and little Marwy, who had quite recovered from her broken heart, trotting behind.
And he stopped and patted Tiny on the back, saying,
"Ah, my dear boy!--I believe I have to congratulate you."
Then Tiny blushed and answered,
"Well, Sir, we've heard nothing from the King as yet. Still--we hope."
So the Colonel nodded very wisely and said,
"Well, we shall see what we shall see."
And he passed on to Sunday-school: for the Colonel always attended himself, and tried to get the Fellows to come too; only they always had sore throats or something, and couldn't.
Then Tiny ran home, quite sure now.
And when he got there he found a white paper pinned on to the door, saying,
_I have gone to my room to wait. Don't come._
So Tiny waited down below all day.
But towards evening, he crept up, and peeped.
And there was Baby waiting by the window, nursing her pussy-kitten.
And as she nursed, she sang,
"Hushaby, Hushaby, Here at twilight, Waiting, I, Sweet-contented, Know not why-- Hushaby, Hushaby."
Then Tiny put his finger to his lips, and stole away without a word.
But Baby waited at the window, looking East.
Then at dusk the good old doctor came from the Castle with a basket on his arm.
And the basket was full of lovely little Stars of Bethlehem, which flower about then in That Country.
And on the basket was a label written in the King's hand,
_Baby from The King because She Is so truly Good and Loving._
Then the old doctor went up the stairs in the dusk very quietly.
And he knocked at Baby's door and entered, the little Stars of Bethlehem shining white about him, as he went.
Then after about a bit he came downstairs smiling, the basket empty now, only for the bulrushes that had lined it.
And he came out to where Tiny was holding his white cob, and said,
"Ha, my boy!--what d'you think I've brought for you?"
Then Tiny trembled and said,
So the good old doctor answered,
"Go to Baby's room; and you'll see." And he climbed on to his cob, and jogged away, chuckling.
And the kitten walked after him down the drive with its tail up tight.
Then Tiny came to Baby's door and knocked.
But there came no answer.
So he went in.
And within all was still and twilight.
[Illustration: WITHIN ALL WAS STILL AND TWILIGHT]
And the only light came from the Stars of Bethlehem strewn about the floor.
And in the middle of these kneeled Baby, rocking to and fro with something in her arms.
And when Tiny came in, she looked up; and he could see her eyes shining in the dusk.
Then Tiny came to her upon his toes, and kneeled beside her.
And he laid his lips to her ear, and whispered, "Mother."
Then they kissed each other and It.
[Illustration: Chapter VIII Tailpiece]
ON THE STORY THAT GOES ON FOR EVER
So this story ends the same as all other stories that ever were written, and that is happily.
And really there is only one Story, and it is the best Story in the world; but it is not finished yet, and never will be.
And this Story grows better and better all the time, which is how we know it from the written stories that we read.
But it is told in bits, so that unless we're sort of in the secret, we may mistake it for a lot of little stories, all separate, and all telling against each other.
Yet all the little bits fit in together at the end most perfectly; and not one word is wasted, although it seems as if there would be thousands; to say nothing of bad spellings, and erasures, and great blots of ink and tears.
And it is the same end always, and always a happy end.
For no story really ends sadly for the very good reason that it can't.
For Love is Love, and in the end end of all Love must win.
So after we have finished our bit of the Story, and our friends have read it, and scribbled on the blank space at the bottom,
THE END: HE WAS A SINNER--
And after they have whispered about us in public, and the ladies have gone behind their handkerchieves, and said,
"We must hope for the best, and expect the worst," and the men have yawned and said,
"Ah, well--De mortuis nil nisi bonum," which means--"He was the Devil's darling from his youth up, and I always told you so."
We need not mind so very much; for it may be that we have done better than we thought; and it is certain that while the world knows nothing of our aim, of our failure it knows more than all.
Moreover let us remember to our comfort that after that dead
which seems to wind us up so blankly, there is always a
And the strange thing about that Beyond is that it is really no Beyond at all: it is There all the time; but we can hardly see it for the rather odd reason that we are too close.
And this Beyond that is always There is the real Story, if we only knew it.
What we read is only foot-notes at the bottom of the page to explain the real Story.
But because our eyes are so close to the page, and because the page is so very large, we often only see the foot-notes, which are most interesting of themselves.
Then sometimes we deny that the page is there, saying the foot-notes are all, which is rather foolish: for what is the good of Notes on Nothing?
And a man who buries his nose in the Notes, and tries to read the writing by smelling it, is a sinner; and _he_ usually knows a lot about nothing.
And a man who holds his eyes close to the page, and pries into the Notes, is a scientist; and _he_ usually knows a lot about the Notes, and nothing about the Story, which the Notes are on.
And a man who stands back a bit, and says he can read the whole thing, Notes and all, and explain it easily, is a Philosopher; and _he_ usually knows a little about both Notes and Story.
And a man who stands still further back, and looks at the Story very quietly, and tells truly all he sees, without trying to explain it, is a Poet; and he usually knows a lot about both Notes and Story.
And this Beyond that is always There is always the same, and is always a Love-story.
And we are characters in this Love-story, and walk for ever through its pages.
But if we walk apart by ourselves, rather proud and puffed up, saying that it isn't a real Story, and that we don't belong to it, and will take no part, then we lose all the interest.
For that comes from joining in, and feeling that we are characters in the Story, and must help it along by helping the other characters.
While if we enter in, then we very soon find out that it is the best Story in the world, and that if we will, we can be little heroes, and play our part, and win in the end quite splendidly.
_Then_ it becomes exciting.
And once we have joined in, we find oddly enough that as we grow older we grow younger, until at length we become as little children, happy all the time, our work our play, our life a Song of Innocence, not unlike the natives of That Country.
* * * * *