“Thank God, you are safe! Did you see how near it was?”
“I saw there was just time, Eric said lightly.
“A soldier must learn to carry his life in his hand, you know.
I’m all right now. Shall we go to the telegraph-office again?
I daresay it’s come by this time.”
I went to join the Earl and the children, and we waited–almost in
silence, for no one seemed inclined to talk, and Bruno was half-asleep
on Sylvie’s lap–till the others joined us. No telegram had come.
“I’ll take a stroll with the children,” I said, feeling that we were a
little de trop, “and I’ll look in, in the course of the evening.”
“We must go back into the wood, now,” Sylvie said, as soon as we were
out of hearing.
“We ca’n’t stay this size any longer.”
“Then you will be quite tiny Fairies again, next time we meet?”
“Yes,” said Sylvie: “but we’ll be children again some day–if you’ll
let us. Bruno’s very anxious to see Lady Muriel again.”
“She are welly nice,” said Bruno.
“I shall be very glad to take you to see her again,” I said.
“Hadn’t I better give you back the Professor’s Watch?
It’ll be too large for you to carry when you’re Fairies, you know.”
Bruno laughed merrily. I was glad to see he had quite recovered from
the terrible scene he had gone through. “Oh no, it won’t!” he said.
“When we go small, it’ll go small!”
“And then it’ll go straight to the Professor,” Sylvie added, “and you
won’t be able to use it anymore: so you’d better use it all you can, now.
We must go small when the sun sets. Good-bye!”
“Good-bye!” cried Bruno. But their voices sounded very far away, and,
when I looked round, both children had disappeared.
“And it wants only two hours to sunset!” I said as I strolled on.
“I must make the best of my time!”
AN OUTLANDISH WATCH.
As I entered the little town, I came upon two of the fishermen’s wives
interchanging that last word “which never was the last”:
and it occurred to me, as an experiment with the Magic Watch, to wait
till the little scene was over, and then to ‘encore’ it.
“Well, good night t’ye! And ye winna forget to send us word when your
“Nay, ah winna forget. An’ if she isn’t suited, she can but coom back.
Good night t’ye!”
A casual observer might have thought “and there ends the dialogue!”
That casual observer would have been mistaken.
“Ah, she’ll like ’em, I war’n’ ye! They’ll not treat her bad, yer may
depend. They’re varry canny fowk. Good night!”
“Ay, they are that! Good night!”
“Good night! And ye’ll send us word if she writes?”
“Aye, ah will, yer may depend! Good night t’ye!”
And at last they parted. I waited till they were some twenty yards
apart, and then put the Watch a minute back. The instantaneous change
was startling: the two figures seemed to flash back into their former
“–isn’t suited, she can but coom back. Good night t’ye!” one of them
was saying: and so the whole dialogue was repeated, and, when they had
parted for the second time, I let them go their several ways,
and strolled on through the town.
“But the real usefulness of this magic power,” I thought,
“would be to undo some harm, some painful event, some accident–”
I had not long to wait for an opportunity of testing this property also
of the Magic Watch, for, even as the thought passed through my mind,
the accident I was imagining occurred. A light cart was standing at
the door of the ‘Great Millinery Depot’ of Elveston, laden with
card-board packing-cases, which the driver was carrying into the shop,
one by one. One of the cases had fallen into the street,
but it scarcely seemed worth while to step forward and pick it up,
as the man would be back again in a moment. Yet, in that moment,
a young man riding a bicycle came sharp round the corner of the street
and, in trying to avoid running over the box, upset his machine,