The Enchanted Castle/Chapter 9

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The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit
Chapter 9

CHAPTER IX


There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs for ever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets, and the like, almost anything may happen. Thus it is not surprising that Mabel and Kathleen, conscientiously conducting one of the dullest dolls tea-parties at which either had ever assisted, should suddenly, and both at once, have felt a strange, unreasonable, but quite irresistible desire to return instantly to the Temple of Flora—even at the cost of leaving the dolls tea-service in an unwashed state, and only half the raisins eaten. They went—as one has to go when the magic impulse drives one—against their better judgement, against their wills almost.

And the nearer they came to the Temple of Flora, in the golden hush of the afternoon, the more certain each was that they could not possibly have done otherwise.

And this explains exactly how it was that when Gerald and Jimmy, holding hands in the darkness of the passage, uttered their first concerted yell, "just for the lark of the thing", that yell was instantly answered from outside.

A crack of light showed in that part of the passage where they had least expected the door to be. The stone door itself swung slowly open, and they were out of it, in the Temple of Flora, blinking in the good daylight, an unresisting prey to Kathleen's embraces and the questionings of Mabel.

"And you left that Ugly-Wugly loose in London," Mabel pointed out; "you might have wished it to be with you, too."

"It's all right where it is," said Gerald. "I couldn't think of everything. And besides, no, thank you! Now we'll go home and seal up the ring in an envelope."

"I haven't done anything with the ring yet," said Kathleen.

"I shouldn't think you'd want to when you see the sort of things it does with you," said Gerald.

"It wouldn't do things like that if I was wishing with it," Kathleen protested.

"Look here," said Mabel, "let's just put it back in the treasure-room and have done with it. I oughtn't ever to have taken it away, really. It's a sort of stealing. It's quite as bad, really, as Eliza borrowing it to astonish her gentleman friend with."

"I don't mind putting it back if you like," said Gerald, "only if any of us do think of a sensible wish you'll let us have it out again, of course?"

"Of course, of course," Mabel agreed.

So they trooped up to the castle, and Mabel once more worked the spring that let down the panelling and showed the jewels, and the ring was put back among the odd dull ornaments that Mabel had once said were magic.

"How innocent it looks!" said Gerald. "You wouldn't think there was any magic about it. It's just like an old silly ring. I wonder if what Mabel said about the other things is true! Suppose we try."

"Don't!" said Kathleen. "I think magic things are spiteful. They just enjoy getting you into tight places."

"I'd like to try," said Mabel, "only—well, everything's been rather upsetting, and I've forgotten what I said anything was."

So had the others. Perhaps that was why, when Gerald said that a bronze buckle laid on the foot would have the effect of seven-league boots, it didn't; when Jimmy, a little of the City man he had been clinging to him still, said that the steel collar would ensure your always having money in your pockets, his own remained empty; and when Mabel and Kathleen invented qualities of the most delightful nature for various rings and chains and brooches, nothing at all happened.

"It's only the ring that's magic," said Mabel at last; "and, I say!" she added, in quite a different voice.

"What?"

"Suppose even the ring isn't!"

"But we know it is."

"I don't," said Mabel. "I believe it's not today at all. I believe it's the other day—we've just dreamed all these things. It's the day I made up that nonsense about the ring."

"No, it isn't," said Gerald; "you were in your Princess-clothes then.

"What Princess-clothes?" said Mabel, opening her dark eyes very wide.

"Oh, don't be silly," said Gerald wearily.

"I'm not silly," said Mabel; "and I think it's time you went. I'm sure Jimmy wants his tea."

"Of course I do," said Jimmy. "But you had got the Princess-clothes that day. Come along; let's shut up the shutters and leave the ring in its long home."

"What ring?" said Mabel.

"Don't take any notice of her," said Gerald. "She's only trying to be funny."

"No, I'm not," said Mabel; "but I'm inspired like a Python or a Sibylline lady. What ring?"

"The wishing-ring," said Kathleen; "the invisibility ring."

"Don't you see now," said Mabel, her eyes wider than ever, "the ring's what you say it is? That's how it came to make us invisible—I just said it. Oh, we can't leave it here, if that's what it is. It isn't stealing, really, when it's as valuable as that, you see. Say what it is."

"It's a wishing-ring," said Jimmy.

"We've had that before—and you had your silly wish," said Mabel, more and more excited. "I say it isn't a wishing-ring. I say it's a ring that makes the wearer four yards high."

She had caught up the ring as she spoke, and even as she spoke the ring showed high above the children's heads on the finger of an impossible Mabel, who was, indeed, twelve feet high.

"Now you've done it!" said Gerald—and he was right. It was in vain that Mabel asserted that the ring was a wishing-ring. It quite clearly wasn't; it was what she had said it was.

"And you can't tell at all how long the effect will last," said Gerald. "Look at the invisibleness." This is difficult to do, but the others understood him.

"It may last for days," said Kathleen. "Oh, Mabel, it was silly of you!"

"That's right, rub it in," said Mabel bitterly; "you should have believed me when I said it was what I said it was. Then I shouldn't have had to show you, and I shouldn't be this silly size. What am I to do now, I should like to know?"

"We must conceal you till you get your right size again—that's all," said Gerald practically.

"Yes—but where?" said Mabel, stamping a foot twenty-four inches long.

"In one of the empty rooms. You wouldn't be afraid?"

"Of course not," said Mabel. "Oh, I do wish we'd just put the ring back and left it."

"Well, it wasn't us that didn't," said Jimmy, with more truth than grammar.

"I shall put it back now," said Mabel, tugging at it.

"I wouldn't if I were you," said Gerald thoughtfully. "You don't want to stay that length, do you? And unless the ring's on your finger when the time's up, I dare say it wouldn't act."

The exalted Mabel sullenly touched the spring. The panels slowly slid into place, and all the bright jewels were hidden. Once more the room was merely eight-sided, panelled, sunlit, and unfurnished.

"Now," said Mabel, "where am I to hide? It's a good thing auntie gave me leave to stay the night with you. As it is, one of you will have to stay the night with me. I'm not going to be left alone, the silly height I am."

Height was the right word; Mabel had said "four yards high"—and she was four yards high. But she was hardly any thicker than when her height was four feet seven, and the effect was, as Gerald remarked, "wonderfully worm-like". Her clothes had, of course, grown with her, and she looked like a little girl reflected in one of those long bent mirrors at Rosherville Gardens, that make stout people look so happily slender, and slender people so sadly scraggy. She sat down suddenly on the floor, and it was like a four-fold foot-rule folding itself up.

"It's no use sitting there, girl," said Gerald.

Enchanted Castle Page 250.jpg

SHE SAT DOWN SUDDENLY ON THE FLOOR, AND IT WAS LIKE A FOUR-FOLD FOOT-RULE FOLDING ITSELF UP.

"I'm not sitting here," retorted Mabel; "I only got down so as to be able to get through the door. It'll have to be hands and knees through most places for me now, I suppose."

"Aren't you hungry?" Jimmy asked suddenly.

"I don't know," said Mabel desolately; "it's—it's such a long way off!"

"Well, I'll scout," said Gerald; "if the coast's clear——"

"Look here," said Mabel, "I think I'd rather be out of doors till it gets dark."

"You can't. Someone's certain to see you."

"Not if I go through the yew-hedge," said Mabel. "There's a yew-hedge with a passage along its inside like the box-hedge in 'The Luck of the Vails.'"

"In what?"

"'The Luck of the Vails.' It's a ripping book. It was that book first set me on to hunt for hidden doors in panels and things. If I crept along that on my front, like a serpent—it comes out amongst the rhododendrons, close by the dinosaurus—we could camp there."

"There's tea," said Gerald, who had had no dinner.

"That's just what there isn't," said Jimmy, who had had none either.

"Oh, you won't desert me!" said Mabel. "Look here—I'll write to auntie. She'll give you the things for a picnic, if she's there and awake. If she isn't, one of the maids will."

So she wrote on a leaf of Gerald's invaluable pocketbook:—

"Dearest Auntie,—

"Please may we have some things for a picnic? Gerald will bring them. I would come myself, but I am a little tired. I think I have been growing rather fast.—Your loving niece,

"Mabel."

"P.S.—Lots, please, because some of us are very hungry."


It was found difficult, but possible, for Mabel to creep along the tunnel in the yew-hedge. Possible, but slow, so that the three had hardly had time to settle themselves among the rhododendrons and to wonder bitterly what on earth Gerald was up to, to be such a time gone, when he returned, panting under the weight of a covered basket. He dumped it down on the fine grass carpet, groaned, and added, "But it's worth it. Where's our Mabel?"

The long, pale face of Mabel peered out from rhododendron leaves, very near the ground.

"I look just like anybody else like this, don't I?" she asked anxiously; "all the rest of me's miles away, under different bushes."

"We've covered up the bits between the bushes with bracken and leaves," said Kathleen, avoiding the question; "don't wriggle, Mabel, or you'll waggle them off."

Jimmy was eagerly unpacking the basket. It was a generous tea. A long loaf, butter in a cabbage-leaf, a bottle of milk, a bottle of water, cake, and large, smooth, yellow gooseberries in a box that had once held an extra-sized bottle of somebody's matchless something for the hair and moustache. Mabel cautiously advanced her incredible arms from the rhododendron and leaned on one of her spindly elbows, Gerald cut bread and butter, while Kathleen obligingly ran round, at Mabel's request, to see that the green coverings had not dropped from any of the remoter parts of Mabel's person. Then there was a happy, hungry silence, broken only by those brief, impassioned suggestions natural to such an occasion:—

"More cake, please."

"Milk ahoy, there."

"Chuck us the goosegogs."

Everyone grew calmer—more contented with their lot. A pleasant feeling, half tiredness and half restfulness, crept to the extremities of the party. Even the unfortunate Mabel was conscious of it in her remote feet, that lay crossed under the third rhododendron to the north-north-west of the tea-party. Gerald did but voice the feelings of the others when he said, not without regret:—

"Well, I'm a new man, but I couldn't eat so much as another goosegog if you paid me."

"I could," said Mabel; "yes, I know they re all gone, and I've had my share. But I could. It's me being so long, I suppose."

A delicious after-food peace filled the summer air. At a little distance the green-lichened grey of the vast stone dinosaurus showed through the shrubs. He, too, seemed peaceful and happy. Gerald caught his stone eye through a gap in the foliage. His glance seemed somehow sympathetic.

"I dare say he liked a good meal in his day," said Gerald, stretching luxuriously.

"Who did?"

"The dino what's-his-name," said Gerald.

"He had a meal today," said Kathleen, and giggled.

"Yes—didn't he?" said Mabel, giggling also.

"You mustn't laugh lower than your chest," said Kathleen anxiously, "or your green stuff will joggle off."

"What do you mean—a meal?" Jimmy asked suspiciously. "What are you sniggering about?"

"He had a meal. Things to put in his inside," said Kathleen, still giggling.

"Oh, be funny if you want to," said Jimmy, suddenly cross. "We don't want to know—do we, Jerry?"

"I do," said Gerald witheringly; "I'm dying to know. Wake me, you girls, when you've finished pretending you're not going to tell."

He tilted his hat over his eyes, and lay back in the attitude of slumber.

"Oh, don't be stupid!" said Kathleen hastily. "It's only that we fed the dinosaurus through the hole in his stomach with the clothes the Ugly-Wuglies were made of!"

"We can take them home with us, then," said Gerald, chewing the white end of a grass stalk, "so that's all right."

"Look here," said Kathleen suddenly; "I've got an idea. Let me have the ring a bit. I won't say what the idea is, in case it doesn't come off, and then you'd say I was silly. I'll give it back before we go."

"Oh, but you aren't going yet!" said Mabel, pleading. She pulled off the ring. "Of course, she added earnestly, "I'm only too glad for you to try any idea, however silly it is."

Now, Kathleen's idea was quite simple. It was only that perhaps the ring would change its powers if someone else renamed it—someone who was not under the power of its enchantment. So the moment it had passed from the long, pale hand of Mabel to one of her own fat, warm, red paws, she jumped up, crying, "Let's go and empty the dinosaurus now," and started to run swiftly towards that prehistoric monster. She had a good start. She wanted to say aloud, yet so that the others could not hear her, "This is a wishing-ring. It gives you any wish you choose." And she did say it. And no one heard her, except the birds and a squirrel or two, and perhaps a stone faun, whose pretty face seemed to turn a laughing look on her as she raced past its pedestal.

The way was uphill; it was sunny, and Kathleen had run her hardest, though her brothers caught her up before she reached the great black shadow of the dinosaurus. So that when she did reach that shadow she was very hot indeed and not in any state to decide calmly on the best wish to ask for.

"I'll get up and move the things down, because I know exactly where I put them," she said.

Gerald made a back, Jimmy assisted her to climb up, and she disappeared through the hole into the dark inside of the monster. In a moment a shower began to descend from the opening—a shower of empty waistcoats, trousers with wildly waving legs, and coats with sleeves uncontrolled.

"Heads below!" called Kathleen, and down came walking-sticks and golf-sticks and hockey-sticks and broom-sticks, rattling and chattering to each other as they came.

"Come on," said Jimmy.

"Hold on a bit," said Gerald. "I'm coming up. He caught the edge of the hole above in his hands and jumped. Just as he got his shoulders through the opening and his knees on the edge he heard Kathleen's boots on the floor of the dinosaurus's inside, and Kathleen's voice saying: "Isn't it jolly cool in here? I suppose statues are always cool. I do wish I was a statue. Oh!"

The "oh" was a cry of horror and anguish. And it seemed to be cut off very short by a dreadful stony silence.

"What's up?" Gerald asked. But in his heart he knew. He climbed up into the great hollow. In the little light that came up through the hole he could see something white against the grey of the creature's sides. He felt in his pockets, still kneeling, struck a match, and when the blue of its flame changed to clear yellow he looked up to see what he had known he would see—the face of Kathleen, white, stony, and lifeless. Her hair was white, too, and her hands, clothes, shoes—everything was white, with the hard, cold whiteness of marble. Kathleen had her wish: she was a statue. There was a long moment of perfect stillness in the inside of the dinosaurus. Gerald could not speak. It was too sudden, too terrible. It was worse than anything that had happened yet. Then he turned and spoke down out of that cold, stony silence to Jimmy, in the green, sunny, rustling, live world outside.

"Jimmy, he said, in tones perfectly ordinary and matter of fact, "Kathleen's gone and said that ring was a wishing-ring. And so it was, of course. I see now what she was up to, running like that. And then the young duffer went and wished she was a statue."

"And she is?" asked Jimmy, below.

"Come up and have a look," said Gerald. And Jimmy came, partly with a pull from Gerald and partly with a jump of his own.

"She's a statue, right enough," he said, in awestruck tones. "Isn't it awful!"

"Not at all," said Gerald firmly. "Come on—let's go and tell Mabel."

To Mabel, therefore, who had discreetly remained with her long length screened by rhododendrons, the two boys returned and broke the news. They broke it as one breaks a bottle with a pistol-shot.

"Oh, my goodness!" said Mabel, and writhed
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KATHLEEN HAD HER WISH: SHE WAS A STATUE.

her long length so that the leaves and fern tumbled off in little showers, and she felt the sun suddenly hot on the backs of her legs. "What next? Oh, my goodness!"

"She'll come all right," said Gerald, with outward calm.

"Yes; but what about me?" Mabel urged. "I haven't got the ring. And my time will be up before hers is. Couldn't you get it back? Can't you get it off her hand? I'd put it back on her hand the very minute I was my right size again—faithfully I would."

"Well, it's nothing to blub about," said Jimmy, answering the sniffs that had served her in this speech for commas and full-stops; "not for you, anyway."

"Ah! you don't know," said Mabel; "you don't know what it is to be as long as I am. Do—do try and get the ring. After all, it is my ring more than any of the rest of yours, anyhow, because I did find it, and I did say it was magic."

The sense of justice always present in the breast of Gerald awoke to this appeal.

"I expect the ring's turned to stone her—boots have, and all her clothes. But I'll go and see. Only if I can't, I can't, and it's no use your making a silly fuss."

The first match lighted inside the dinosaurus showed the ring dark on the white hand of the statuesque Kathleen.

The fingers were stretched straight out. Gerald took hold of the ring, and, to his it slipped easily off the cold, smooth marble finger.

"I say, Cathy, old girl, I am sorry," he said, and gave the marble hand a squeeze. Then it came to him that perhaps she could hear him. So he told the statue exactly what he and the others meant to do. This helped to clear up his ideas as to what he and the others did mean to do. So that when, after thumping the statue hearteningly on its marble back, he returned to the rhododendrons, he was able to give his orders with the clear precision of a born leader, as he later said. And since the others had, neither of them, thought of any plans, his plan was accepted, as the plans of born leaders are apt to be.

"Here's your precious ring," he said to Mabel. "Now you're not frightened of anything, are you?"

"No," said Mabel, in surprise. "I'd forgotten that. Look here, I'll stay here or farther up in the wood if you'll leave me all the coats, so that I shan't be cold in the night. Then I shall be here when Kathleen comes out of the stone again."

"Yes," said Gerald, "that was exactly the born leader's idea.

"You two go home and tell Mademoiselle that Kathleen's staying at the Towers. She is."

"Yes," said Jimmy, "she certainly is."

"The magic goes in seven-hour lots," said Gerald; "your invisibility was twenty-one hours, mine fourteen, Eliza's seven. When it was a wishing-ring it began with seven. But there's no knowing what number it will be really. So there's no knowing which of you will come right first. Anyhow, we'll sneak out by the cistern window and come down the trellis, after we've said good night to Mademoiselle, and come and have a look at you before we go to bed. I think you'd better come close up to the dinosaurus and we'll leaf you over before we go."

Mabel crawled into cover of the taller trees, and there stood up looking as slender as a poplar and as unreal as the wrong answer to a sum in long division. It was to her an easy matter to crouch beneath the dinosaurus, to put her head up through the opening, and thus to behold the white form of Kathleen.

"It's all right, dear," she told the stone image; "I shall be quite close to you. You call me as soon as you feel you're coming right again."

The statue remained motionless, as statues usually do, and Mabel withdrew her head, lay down, was covered up, and left. The boys went home. It was the only reasonable thing to do. It would never have done for Mademoiselle to become anxious and set the police on their track. Everyone felt that. The shock of discovering the missing Kathleen, not only in a dinosaurus's stomach, but, further, in a stone statue of herself, might well have unhinged the mind of any constable, to say nothing of the mind of Mademoiselle, which, being foreign,
Enchanted Castle Page 268.jpg

MABEL LAY DOWN, WAS COVERED UP, AND LEFT.

would necessarily be a mind more light and easy to upset. While as for Mabel——

"Well, to look at her as she is now," said Gerald, "why, it would send any one off their chump—except us."

"We're different, said Jimmy; "our chumps have had to jolly well get used to things. It would take a lot to upset us now."

"Poor old Cathy! all the same," said Gerald.

"Yes, of course," said Jimmy.


The sun had died away behind the black trees and the moon was rising. Mabel, her preposterous length covered with coats, waistcoats, and trousers laid along it, slept peacefully in the chill of the evening. Inside the dinosaurus Kathleen, alive in her marble, slept too. She had heard Gerald's words—had seen the lighted matches. She was Kathleen just the same as ever only she was Kathleen in a case of marble that would not let her move. It would not have let her cry, even if she wanted to. But she had not wanted to cry. Inside, the marble was not cold or hard. It seemed, somehow, to be softly lined with warmth and pleasantness and safety. Her back did not ache with stooping. Her limbs were not stiff with the hours that they had stayed moveless. Everything was well—better than well. One had only to wait quietly and quite comfortably and one would come out of this stone case, and once more be the Kathleen one had always been used to being. So she waited happily and calmly, and presently waiting changed to not waiting to not anything; and, close held in the soft inwardness of the marble, she slept as peacefully and calmly as though she had been lying in her own bed.

She was awakened by the fact that she was not lying in her own bed—was not, indeed, lying at all—by the fact that she was standing and that her feet had pins and needles in them. Her arms, too, held out in that odd way, were stiff and tired. She rubbed her eyes, yawned, and remembered. She had been a statue a statue inside the stone dinosaurus.

"Now I'm alive again," was her instant conclusion, "and I'll get out of it."

She sat down, put her feet through the hole that showed faintly grey in the stone beast's underside, and as she did so a long, slow lurch threw her sideways on the stone where she sat. The dinosaurus was moving!

"Oh!" said Kathleen inside it, "how dreadful! It must be moonlight, and it's come alive, like Gerald said.

It was indeed moving. She could see through the hole the changing surface of grass and bracken and moss as it waddled heavily along. She dared not drop through the hole while it moved, for fear it should crush her to death with its gigantic feet. And with that thought came another: where was Mabel? Somewhere—somewhere near? Suppose one of the great feet planted itself on some part of Mabel's inconvenient length? Mabel being the size she was now it would be quite difficult not to step on some part or other of her, if she should happen to be in one's way—quite difficult, however much one tried. And the dinosaurus would not try: Why should it? Kathleen hung in an agony over the round opening. The huge beast swung from side to side. It was going faster; it was no good, she dared not jump out. Anyhow, they must be quite away from Mabel by now. Faster and faster went the dinosaurus. The floor of its stomach sloped. They were going downhill. Twigs cracked and broke as it pushed through a belt of evergreen oaks; gravel crunched, ground beneath its stony feet. Then stone met stone. There was a pause. A splash! They were close to water—the lake where by moonlight Hermes fluttered and Janus and the dinosaurus swam together. Kathleen dropped swiftly through the hole on to the flat marble that edged the basin, rushed sideways, and stood panting in the shadow of a statue's pedestal. Not a moment too soon, for even as she crouched the monster lizard slipped heavily into the water, drowning a thousand smooth, shining lily pads, and swam away towards the central island.

"Be still, little lady. I leap!" The voice came from the pedestal, and next moment Phœbus had jumped from the pedestal in his little temple, clearing the steps, and landing a couple of yards away.

"You are new," said Phœbus over his graceful
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THE MONSTER LIZARD SLIPPED HEAVILY INTO THE WATER.

shoulder. "I should not have forgotten you if once I had seen you."

"I am," said Kathleen, "quite, quite new. And I didn't know you could talk."

"Why not?" Phœbus laughed. "You can talk."

"But I'm alive."

"Am not I?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, I suppose so," said Kathleen, distracted, but not afraid; "only I thought you had to have the ring on before one could even see you move."

Phœbus seemed to understand her, which was rather to his credit, for she had certainly not expressed herself with clearness.

"Ah! that's for mortals," he said. "We can hear and see each other in the few moments when life is ours. That is a part of the beautiful enchantment."

"But I am a mortal," said Kathleen.

"You are as modest as you are charming," said Phoebus Apollo absently; "the white water calls me! I go," and the next moment rings of liquid silver spread across the lake, widening and widening, from the spot where the white joined hands of the Sun-god had struck the water as he dived.

Kathleen turned and went up the hill towards the rhododendron bushes. She must find Mabel, and they must go home at once. If only Mabel was of a size that one could conveniently take home with one! Most likely, at this hour of enchantments, she was. Kathleen, heartened by the thought, hurried on. She passed through the rhododendron bushes, remembered the pointed painted paper face that had looked out from the glossy leaves, expected to be frightened—and wasn't. She found Mabel easily enough, and much more easily than she would have done had Mabel been as she wished to find her. For quite a long way off in the moonlight, she could see that long and worm-like form, extended to its full twelve feet and covered with coats and trousers and waistcoats. Mabel looked like a drain-pipe that has been covered in sacks in frosty weather. Kathleen touched her long cheek gently, and she woke.

"What's up?" she said sleepily.

"It's only me," Kathleen explained.

"How cold your hands are!" said Mabel.

"Wake up," said Kathleen, "and let's talk."

"Can't we go home now? I'm awfully tired, and it's so long since tea-time."

"You're too long to go home yet," said Kathleen sadly, and then Mabel remembered.

She lay with closed eyes—then suddenly she stirred and cried out:—

"Oh! Cathy, I feel so funny like one of those horn snakes when you make it go short to get it into its box. I am—yes—I know I am——"

She was; and Kathleen, watching her, agreed that it was exactly like the shortening of a horn spiral snake between the closing hands of a child. Mabel's distant feet drew near—Mabel's long, lean arms grew shorter—Mabel's face was no longer half a yard long.

"You're coming right—you are! Oh, I am so glad!" cried Kathleen.

"I know I am," said Mabel; and as she said it she became once more Mabel, not only in herself which, of course, she had been all the time, but in her outward appearance.

"You are all right. Oh, hooray! hooray! I am so glad!" said Kathleen kindly; "and now we'll go home at once, dear."

"Go home?" said Mabel, slowly sitting up and staring at Kathleen with her big dark eyes. "Go home—like that?"

"Like what?" Kathleen asked impatiently.

"Why, you," was Mabel's odd reply.

"I'm all right," said Kathleen. "Come on."

"Do you mean to say you don't know?" said Mabel. "Look at yourself—your hands—your dress—everything."

Kathleen looked at her hands. They were of marble whiteness. Her dress, too—her shoes, her stockings, even the ends of her hair. She was white as new-fallen snow.

"What is it?" she asked, beginning to tremble. "What am I all this horrid colour for?"

"Don't you see? Oh, Cathy, don't you see? You've not come right. You're a statue still."

"I'm not—I'm alive—I'm talking to you."

"I know you are, darling," said Mabel, soothing her as one soothes a fractious child. "That's because it's moonlight."

"But you can see I'm alive."

"Of course I can. I've got the ring."

"But I'm all right; I know I am."

Enchanted Castle Page 276.jpg

"WHAT IS IT?" SHE ASKED, BEGINNING TO TREMBLE. "WHAT AM I ALL THIS HORRID COLOUR FOR?"

"Don't you see," said Mabel gently, taking her white marble hand, "you're not all right? It's moonlight, and you're a statue, and you've just come alive with all the other statues. And when the moon goes down you'll just be a statue again. That's the difficulty, dear, about our going home again. You're just a statue still, only you've come alive with the other marble things. Where's the dinosaurus?"

"In his bath," said Kathleen, "and so are all the other stone beasts."

Well," said Mabel, trying to look on the bright side of things, "then we've got one thing, at any rate, to be thankful for!"