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At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald

Part 2 out of 6

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"Yes."

"Then the me you don't know must be the same as the me you do know,--
else there would be two mes?"

"Yes."

"Then the other me you don't know must be as kind as the me you
do know?"

"Yes."

"Besides, I tell you that it is so, only it doesn't look like it.
That I confess freely. Have you anything more to object?"

"No, no, dear North Wind; I am quite satisfied."

"Then I will tell you something you might object. You might say
that the me you know is like the other me, and that I am cruel
all through."

"I know that can't be, because you are so kind."

"But that kindness might be only a pretence for the sake of being
more cruel afterwards."

Diamond clung to her tighter than ever, crying--

"No, no, dear North Wind; I can't believe that. I don't believe it.
I won't believe it. That would kill me. I love you, and you
must love me, else how did I come to love you? How could you
know how to put on such a beautiful face if you did not love
me and the rest? No. You may sink as many ships as you like,
and I won't say another word. I can't say I shall like to see it,
you know."

"That's quite another thing," said North Wind; and as she spoke
she gave one spring from the roof of the hay-loft, and rushed up
into the clouds, with Diamond on her left arm close to her heart.
And as if the clouds knew she had come, they burst into a fresh
jubilation of thunderous light. For a few moments, Diamond seemed
to be borne up through the depths of an ocean of dazzling flame;
the next, the winds were writhing around him like a storm of serpents.
For they were in the midst of the clouds and mists, and they
of course took the shapes of the wind, eddying and wreathing and
whirling and shooting and dashing about like grey and black water,
so that it was as if the wind itself had taken shape, and he saw
the grey and black wind tossing and raving most madly all about him.
Now it blinded him by smiting him upon the eyes; now it deafened
him by bellowing in his ears; for even when the thunder came he
knew now that it was the billows of the great ocean of the air
dashing against each other in their haste to fill the hollow
scooped out by the lightning; now it took his breath quite away
by sucking it from his body with the speed of its rush. But he did
not mind it. He only gasped first and then laughed, for the arm
of North Wind was about him, and he was leaning against her bosom.
It is quite impossible for me to describe what he saw. Did you ever
watch a great wave shoot into a winding passage amongst rocks?
If you ever did, you would see that the water rushed every way
at once, some of it even turning back and opposing the rest;
greater confusion you might see nowhere except in a crowd of
frightened people. Well, the wind was like that, except that it
went much faster, and therefore was much wilder, and twisted
and shot and curled and dodged and clashed and raved ten times
more madly than anything else in creation except human passions.
Diamond saw the threads of the lady's hair streaking it all.
In parts indeed he could not tell which was hair and which was
black storm and vapour. It seemed sometimes that all the great
billows of mist-muddy wind were woven out of the crossing lines
of North Wind's infinite hair, sweeping in endless intertwistings.
And Diamond felt as the wind seized on his hair, which his mother
kept rather long, as if he too was a part of the storm, and some
of its life went out from him. But so sheltered was he by North
Wind's arm and bosom that only at times, in the fiercer onslaught
of some curl-billowed eddy, did he recognise for a moment how wild
was the storm in which he was carried, nestling in its very core and
formative centre.

It seemed to Diamond likewise that they were motionless in this centre,
and that all the confusion and fighting went on around them.
Flash after flash illuminated the fierce chaos, revealing in varied
yellow and blue and grey and dusky red the vapourous contention;
peal after peal of thunder tore the infinite waste; but it seemed
to Diamond that North Wind and he were motionless, all but the hair.
It was not so. They were sweeping with the speed of the wind itself
towards the sea.

CHAPTER VII

THE CATHEDRAL

I MUST not go on describing what cannot be described, for nothing
is more wearisome.

Before they reached the sea, Diamond felt North Wind's hair just
beginning to fall about him.

"Is the storm over, North Wind?" he called out.

"No, Diamond. I am only waiting a moment to set you down.
You would not like to see the ship sunk, and I am going to give you
a place to stop in till I come back for you."

"Oh! thank you," said Diamond. "I shall be sorry to leave you,
North Wind, but I would rather not see the ship go down. And I'm
afraid the poor people will cry, and I should hear them. Oh, dear!"

"There are a good many passengers on board; and to tell the truth,
Diamond, I don't care about your hearing the cry you speak of.
I am afraid you would not get it out of your little head again
for a long time."

"But how can you bear it then, North Wind? For I am sure you are kind.
I shall never doubt that again."

"I will tell you how I am able to bear it, Diamond: I am always hearing,
through every noise, through all the noise I am making myself even,
the sound of a far-off song. I do not exactly know where it is,
or what it means; and I don't hear much of it, only the odour of
its music, as it were, flitting across the great billows of the ocean
outside this air in which I make such a storm; but what I do hear is
quite enough to make me able to bear the cry from the drowning ship.
So it would you if you could hear it."

"No, it wouldn't," returned Diamond, stoutly. "For they wouldn't
hear the music of the far-away song; and if they did, it wouldn't
do them any good. You see you and I are not going to be drowned,
and so we might enjoy it."

"But you have never heard the psalm, and you don't know what it
is like. Somehow, I can't say how, it tells me that all is right;
that it is coming to swallow up all cries."

"But that won't do them any good--the people, I mean," persisted Diamond.

"It must. It must," said North Wind, hurriedly. "It wouldn't
be the song it seems to be if it did not swallow up all their fear
and pain too, and set them singing it themselves with the rest.
I am sure it will. And do you know, ever since I knew I had hair,
that is, ever since it began to go out and away, that song has been
coming nearer and nearer. Only I must say it was some thousand years
before I heard it."

"But how can you say it was coming nearer when you did not hear it?"
asked doubting little Diamond.

"Since I began to hear it, I know it is growing louder, therefore I
judge it was coming nearer and nearer until I did hear it first.
I'm not so very old, you know--a few thousand years only--and I was
quite a baby when I heard the noise first, but I knew it must come
from the voices of people ever so much older and wiser than I was.
I can't sing at all, except now and then, and I can never tell what my
song is going to be; I only know what it is after I have sung it.--
But this will never do. Will you stop here?"

"I can't see anywhere to stop," said Diamond. "Your hair is all
down like a darkness, and I can't see through it if I knock my eyes
into it ever so much."

"Look, then," said North Wind; and, with one sweep of her great
white arm, she swept yards deep of darkness like a great curtain
from before the face of the boy.

And lo! it was a blue night, lit up with stars. Where it did
not shine with stars it shimmered with the milk of the stars,
except where, just opposite to Diamond's face, the grey towers
of a cathedral blotted out each its own shape of sky and stars.

"Oh! what's that?" cried Diamond, struck with a kind of terror,
for he had never seen a cathedral, and it rose before him with an
awful reality in the midst of the wide spaces, conquering emptiness
with grandeur.

"A very good place for you to wait in," said North Wind. "But we
shall go in, and you shall judge for yourself."

There was an open door in the middle of one of the towers, leading out
upon the roof, and through it they passed. Then North Wind set
Diamond on his feet, and he found himself at the top of a stone stair,
which went twisting away down into the darkness for only a little
light came in at the door. It was enough, however, to allow Diamond
to see that North Wind stood beside him. He looked up to find
her face, and saw that she was no longer a beautiful giantess,
but the tall gracious lady he liked best to see. She took his hand,
and, giving him the broad part of the spiral stair to walk on, led him
down a good way; then, opening another little door, led him out upon
a narrow gallery that ran all round the central part of the church,
on the ledges of the windows of the clerestory, and through openings
in the parts of the wall that divided the windows from each other.
It was very narrow, and except when they were passing through the wall,
Diamond saw nothing to keep him from falling into the church.
It lay below him like a great silent gulf hollowed in stone,
and he held his breath for fear as he looked down.

"What are you trembling for, little Diamond?" said the lady, as she
walked gently along, with her hand held out behind her leading him,
for there was not breadth enough for them to walk side by side.

"I am afraid of falling down there," answered Diamond. "It is
so deep down."

"Yes, rather," answered North Wind; "but you were a hundred times
higher a few minutes ago."

"Ah, yes, but somebody's arm was about me then," said Diamond,
putting his little mouth to the beautiful cold hand that had a hold
of his.

"What a dear little warm mouth you've got!" said North Wind.
"It is a pity you should talk nonsense with it. Don't you know I
have a hold of you?"

"Yes; but I'm walking on my own legs, and they might slip.
I can't trust myself so well as your arms."

"But I have a hold of you, I tell you, foolish child."

"Yes, but somehow I can't feel comfortable."

"If you were to fall, and my hold of you were to give way, I should
be down after you in a less moment than a lady's watch can tick,
and catch you long before you had reached the ground."

"I don't like it though," said Diamond.

"Oh! oh! oh!" he screamed the next moment, bent double with terror,
for North Wind had let go her hold of his hand, and had vanished,
leaving him standing as if rooted to the gallery.

She left the words, "Come after me," sounding in his ears.

But move he dared not. In a moment more he would from very terror
have fallen into the church, but suddenly there came a gentle
breath of cool wind upon his face, and it kept blowing upon him in
little puffs, and at every puff Diamond felt his faintness going away,
and his fear with it. Courage was reviving in his little heart,
and still the cool wafts of the soft wind breathed upon him,
and the soft wind was so mighty and strong within its gentleness,
that in a minute more Diamond was marching along the narrow ledge
as fearless for the time as North Wind herself.

He walked on and on, with the windows all in a row on one side of him,
and the great empty nave of the church echoing to every one of his
brave strides on the other, until at last he came to a little
open door, from which a broader stair led him down and down and down,
till at last all at once he found himself in the arms of North Wind,
who held him close to her, and kissed him on the forehead.
Diamond nestled to her, and murmured into her bosom,--"Why did you
leave me, dear North Wind?"

"Because I wanted you to walk alone," she answered.

"But it is so much nicer here!" said Diamond.

"I daresay; but I couldn't hold a little coward to my heart.
It would make me so cold!"

"But I wasn't brave of myself," said Diamond, whom my older readers
will have already discovered to be a true child in this, that he
was given to metaphysics. "It was the wind that blew in my face
that made me brave. Wasn't it now, North Wind?"

"Yes: I know that. You had to be taught what courage was.
And you couldn't know what it was without feeling it: therefore it
was given you. But don't you feel as if you would try to be brave
yourself next time?"

"Yes, I do. But trying is not much."

"Yes, it is--a very great deal, for it is a beginning. And a beginning
is the greatest thing of all. To try to be brave is to be brave.
The coward who tries to be brave is before the man who is brave
because he is made so, and never had to try."

"How kind you are, North Wind!"

"I am only just. All kindness is but justice. We owe it."

"I don't quite understand that."

"Never mind; you will some day. There is no hurry about understanding
it now."

"Who blew the wind on me that made me brave?"

"I did."

"I didn't see you."

"Therefore you can believe me."

"Yes, yes; of course. But how was it that such a little breath
could be so strong?"

"That I don't know."

"But you made it strong?"

"No: I only blew it. I knew it would make you strong, just as it
did the man in the boat, you remember. But how my breath has
that power I cannot tell. It was put into it when I was made.
That is all I know. But really I must be going about my work."

"Ah! the poor ship! I wish you would stop here, and let the poor
ship go."

"That I dare not do. Will you stop here till I come back?"

"Yes. You won't be long?"

"Not longer than I can help. Trust me, you shall get home before
the morning."

In a moment North Wind was gone, and the next Diamond heard
a moaning about the church, which grew and grew to a roaring.
The storm was up again, and he knew that North Wind's hair was flying.

The church was dark. Only a little light came through the windows,
which were almost all of that precious old stained glass which
is so much lovelier than the new. But Diamond could not see
how beautiful they were, for there was not enough of light
in the stars to show the colours of them. He could only just
distinguish them from the walls, He looked up, but could not see
the gallery along which he had passed. He could only tell where it
was far up by the faint glimmer of the windows of the clerestory,
whose sills made part of it. The church grew very lonely about him,
and he began to feel like a child whose mother has forsaken it.
Only he knew that to be left alone is not always to be forsaken.

He began to feel his way about the place, and for a while went
wandering up and down. His little footsteps waked little answering
echoes in the great house. It wasn't too big to mind him.
It was as if the church knew he was there, and meant to make itself
his house. So it went on giving back an answer to every step,
until at length Diamond thought he should like to say something out loud,
and see what the church would answer. But he found he was afraid
to speak. He could not utter a word for fear of the loneliness.
Perhaps it was as well that he did not, for the sound of a spoken
word would have made him feel the place yet more deserted and empty.
But he thought he could sing. He was fond of singing, and at home he
used to sing, to tunes of his own, all the nursery rhymes he knew.
So he began to try `Hey diddle diddle', but it wouldn't do.
Then he tried `Little Boy Blue', but it was no better. Neither would
`Sing a Song of Sixpence' sing itself at all. Then he tried `Poor
old Cockytoo', but he wouldn't do. They all sounded so silly!
and he had never thought them silly before. So he was quiet,
and listened to the echoes that came out of the dark corners in answer
to his footsteps.

At last he gave a great sigh, and said, "I'm so tired." But he did
not hear the gentle echo that answered from far away over his head,
for at the same moment he came against the lowest of a few steps
that stretched across the church, and fell down and hurt his arm.
He cried a little first, and then crawled up the steps on his
hands and knees. At the top he came to a little bit of carpet,
on which he lay down; and there he lay staring at the dull window
that rose nearly a hundred feet above his head.

Now this was the eastern window of the church, and the moon was at
that moment just on the edge of the horizon. The next, she was peeping
over it. And lo! with the moon, St. John and St. Paul, and the rest
of them, began to dawn in the window in their lovely garments.
Diamond did not know that the wonder-working moon was behind,
and he thought all the light was coming out of the window itself,
and that the good old men were appearing to help him, growing out
of the night and the darkness, because he had hurt his arm,
and was very tired and lonely, and North Wind was so long in coming.
So he lay and looked at them backwards over his head, wondering when
they would come down or what they would do next. They were very dim,
for the moonlight was not strong enough for the colours, and he
had enough to do with his eyes trying to make out their shapes.
So his eyes grew tired, and more and more tired, and his eyelids
grew so heavy that they would keep tumbling down over his eyes.
He kept lifting them and lifting them, but every time they were
heavier than the last. It was no use: they were too much for him.
Sometimes before he had got them half up, down they were again;
and at length he gave it up quite, and the moment he gave it up, he was
fast asleep.

CHAPTER VIII

THE EAST WINDOW

THAT Diamond had fallen fast asleep is very evident from the strange
things he now fancied as taking place. For he thought he heard
a sound as of whispering up in the great window. He tried to open
his eyes, but he could not. And the whispering went on and grew
louder and louder, until he could hear every word that was said.
He thought it was the Apostles talking about him. But he could not
open his eyes.

"And how comes he to be lying there, St. Peter?" said one.

"I think I saw him a while ago up in the gallery, under the
Nicodemus window. Perhaps he has fallen down.

"What do you think, St. Matthew?"

"I don't think he could have crept here after falling from such
a height. He must have been killed."

"What are we to do with him? We can't leave him lying there.
And we could not make him comfortable up here in the window:
it's rather crowded already. What do you say, St. Thomas?"

"Let's go down and look at him."

There came a rustling, and a chinking, for some time, and then
there was a silence, and Diamond felt somehow that all the Apostles
were standing round him and looking down on him. And still he
could not open his eyes.

"What is the matter with him, St. Luke?" asked one.

"There's nothing the matter with him," answered St. Luke, who must
have joined the company of the Apostles from the next window,
one would think. "He's in a sound sleep."

"I have it," cried another. "This is one of North Wind's tricks.
She has caught him up and dropped him at our door, like a withered
leaf or a foundling baby. I don't understand that woman's conduct,
I must say. As if we hadn't enough to do with our money,
without going taking care of other people's children! That's not
what our forefathers built cathedrals for."

Now Diamond could not bear to hear such things against North Wind,
who, he knew, never played anybody a trick. She was far too busy
with her own work for that. He struggled hard to open his eyes,
but without success.

"She should consider that a church is not a place for pranks,
not to mention that we live in it," said another.

"It certainly is disrespectful of her. But she always is disrespectful.
What right has she to bang at our windows as she has been doing
the whole of this night? I daresay there is glass broken somewhere.
I know my blue robe is in a dreadful mess with the rain first and
the dust after. It will cost me shillings to clean it."

Then Diamond knew that they could not be Apostles, talking like this.
They could only be the sextons and vergers and such-like, who got
up at night, and put on the robes of deans and bishops, and called
each other grand names, as the foolish servants he had heard his
father tell of call themselves lords and ladies, after their masters
and mistresses. And he was so angry at their daring to abuse North Wind,
that he jumped up, crying--"North Wind knows best what she is about.
She has a good right to blow the cobwebs from your windows, for she
was sent to do it. She sweeps them away from grander places,
I can tell you, for I've been with her at it."

This was what he began to say, but as he spoke his eyes came
wide open, and behold, there were neither Apostles nor vergers there--
not even a window with the effigies of holy men in it, but a dark heap
of hay all about him, and the little panes in the roof of his loft
glimmering blue in the light of the morning. Old Diamond was coming
awake down below in the stable. In a moment more he was on his feet,
and shaking himself so that young Diamond's bed trembled under him.

"He's grand at shaking himself," said Diamond. "I wish I could
shake myself like that. But then I can wash myself, and he can't.
What fun it would be to see Old Diamond washing his face with his
hoofs and iron shoes! Wouldn't it be a picture?"

So saying, he got up and dressed himself. Then he went out into
the garden. There must have been a tremendous wind in the night,
for although all was quiet now, there lay the little summer-house
crushed to the ground, and over it the great elm-tree, which
the wind had broken across, being much decayed in the middle.
Diamond almost cried to see the wilderness of green leaves, which used
to be so far up in the blue air, tossing about in the breeze,
and liking it best when the wind blew it most, now lying so near
the ground, and without any hope of ever getting up into the deep
air again.

"I wonder how old the tree is!" thought Diamond. "It must take
a long time to get so near the sky as that poor tree was."

"Yes, indeed," said a voice beside him, for Diamond had spoken
the last words aloud.

Diamond started, and looking around saw a clergyman, a brother of
Mrs. Coleman, who happened to be visiting her. He was a great scholar,
and was in the habit of rising early.

"Who are you, my man?" he added.

"Little Diamond," answered the boy.

"Oh! I have heard of you. How do you come to be up so early?"

"Because the sham Apostles talked such nonsense, they waked me up."

The clergyman stared. Diamond saw that he had better have held
his tongue, for he could not explain things.

"You must have been dreaming, my little man," said he. "Dear! dear!"
he went on, looking at the tree, "there has been terrible work here.
This is the north wind's doing. What a pity! I wish we lived at
the back of it, I'm sure."

"Where is that sir?" asked Diamond.

"Away in the Hyperborean regions," answered the clergyman, smiling.

"I never heard of the place," returned Diamond.

"I daresay not," answered the clergyman; "but if this tree had
been there now, it would not have been blown down, for there
is no wind there."

"But, please, sir, if it had been there," said Diamond, "we should
not have had to be sorry for it."

"Certainly not."

"Then we shouldn't have had to be glad for it, either."

"You're quite right, my boy," said the clergyman, looking at him
very kindly, as he turned away to the house, with his eyes bent
towards the earth. But Diamond thought within himself, "I will
ask North Wind next time I see her to take me to that country.
I think she did speak about it once before."

CHAPTER IX

HOW DIAMOND GOT TO THE BACK OF THE NORTH WIND

WHEN Diamond went home to breakfast, he found his father and mother
already seated at the table. They were both busy with their bread
and butter, and Diamond sat himself down in his usual place.
His mother looked up at him, and, after watching him for a moment, said:

"I don't think the boy is looking well, husband."

"Don't you? Well, I don't know. I think he looks pretty bobbish.
How do you feel yourself, Diamond, my boy?"

"Quite well, thank you, father; at least, I think I've got
a little headache."

"There! I told you," said his father and mother both at once.

"The child's very poorly" added his mother.

"The child's quite well," added his father.

And then they both laughed.

"You see," said his mother, "I've had a letter from my sister
at Sandwich."

"Sleepy old hole!" said his father.

"Don't abuse the place; there's good people in it," said his mother.

"Right, old lady," returned his father; "only I don't believe there
are more than two pair of carriage-horses in the whole blessed place."

"Well, people can get to heaven without carriages--or coachmen
either, husband. Not that I should like to go without my coachman,
you know. But about the boy?"

"What boy?"

"That boy, there, staring at you with his goggle-eyes."

"Have I got goggle-eyes, mother?" asked Diamond, a little dismayed.

"Not too goggle," said his mother, who was quite proud of her
boy's eyes, only did not want to make him vain.

"Not too goggle; only you need not stare so."

"Well, what about him?" said his father.

"I told you I had got a letter."

"Yes, from your sister; not from Diamond."

"La, husband! you've got out of bed the wrong leg first this morning,
I do believe."

"I always get out with both at once," said his father, laughing.

"Well, listen then. His aunt wants the boy to go down and see her."

"And that's why you want to make out that he ain't looking well."

"No more he is. I think he had better go."

"Well, I don't care, if you can find the money," said his father.

"I'll manage that," said his mother; and so it was agreed that
Diamond should go to Sandwich.

I will not describe the preparations Diamond made. You would have
thought he had been going on a three months' voyage. Nor will I
describe the journey, for our business is now at the place.
He was met at the station by his aunt, a cheerful middle-aged woman,
and conveyed in safety to the sleepy old town, as his father called it.
And no wonder that it was sleepy, for it was nearly dead of old age.

Diamond went about staring with his beautiful goggle-eyes,
at the quaint old streets, and the shops, and the houses.
Everything looked very strange, indeed; for here was a town
abandoned by its nurse, the sea, like an old oyster left on the
shore till it gaped for weariness. It used to be one of the five
chief seaports in England, but it began to hold itself too high,
and the consequence was the sea grew less and less intimate with it,
gradually drew back, and kept more to itself, till at length it
left it high and dry: Sandwich was a seaport no more; the sea
went on with its own tide-business a long way off, and forgot it.
Of course it went to sleep, and had no more to do with ships.
That's what comes to cities and nations, and boys and girls, who say,
"I can do without your help. I'm enough for myself."

Diamond soon made great friends with an old woman who kept a toyshop,
for his mother had given him twopence for pocket-money before he left,
and he had gone into her shop to spend it, and she got talking
to him. She looked very funny, because she had not got any teeth,
but Diamond liked her, and went often to her shop, although he had
nothing to spend there after the twopence was gone.

One afternoon he had been wandering rather wearily about the
streets for some time. It was a hot day, and he felt tired.
As he passed the toyshop, he stepped in.

"Please may I sit down for a minute on this box?" he said,
thinking the old woman was somewhere in the shop. But he got
no answer, and sat down without one. Around him were a great many
toys of all prices, from a penny up to shillings. All at once he
heard a gentle whirring somewhere amongst them. It made him start
and look behind him. There were the sails of a windmill going
round and round almost close to his ear. He thought at first it
must be one of those toys which are wound up and go with clockwork;
but no, it was a common penny toy, with the windmill at the end
of a whistle, and when the whistle blows the windmill goes.
But the wonder was that there was no one at the whistle end blowing,
and yet the sails were turning round and round--now faster, now slower,
now faster again.

"What can it mean?" said Diamond, aloud.

"It means me," said the tiniest voice he had ever heard.

"Who are you, please?" asked Diamond.

"Well, really, I begin to be ashamed of you," said the voice.
"I wonder how long it will be before you know me; or how often
I might take you in before you got sharp enough to suspect me.
You are as bad as a baby that doesn't know his mother in a new bonnet."

"Not quite so bad as that, dear North Wind," said Diamond, "for I
didn't see you at all, and indeed I don't see you yet, although I
recognise your voice. Do grow a little, please."

"Not a hair's-breadth," said the voice, and it was the smallest
voice that ever spoke. "What are you doing here?"

"I am come to see my aunt. But, please, North Wind, why didn't
you come back for me in the church that night?"

"I did. I carried you safe home. All the time you were dreaming
about the glass Apostles, you were lying in my arms."

"I'm so glad," said Diamond. "I thought that must be it, only I
wanted to hear you say so. Did you sink the ship, then?"

"Yes."

"And drown everybody?"

"Not quite. One boat got away with six or seven men in it."

"How could the boat swim when the ship couldn't?"

"Of course I had some trouble with it. I had to contrive a bit,
and manage the waves a little. When they're once thoroughly
waked up, I have a good deal of trouble with them sometimes.
They're apt to get stupid with tumbling over each other's heads.
That's when they're fairly at it. However, the boat got to a desert
island before noon next day."

"And what good will come of that?"

"I don't know. I obeyed orders. Good bye."

"Oh! stay, North Wind, do stay!" cried Diamond, dismayed to see
the windmill get slower and slower.

"What is it, my dear child?" said North Wind, and the windmill
began turning again so swiftly that Diamond could scarcely see it.
"What a big voice you've got! and what a noise you do make with it?
What is it you want? I have little to do, but that little must
be done."

"I want you to take me to the country at the back of the north wind."

"That's not so easy," said North Wind, and was silent for so long
that Diamond thought she was gone indeed. But after he had quite
given her up, the voice began again.

"I almost wish old Herodotus had held his tongue about it.
Much he knew of it!"

"Why do you wish that, North Wind?"

"Because then that clergyman would never have heard of it, and set
you wanting to go. But we shall see. We shall see. You must go
home now, my dear, for you don't seem very well, and I'll see what
can be done for you. Don't wait for me. I've got to break a few
of old Goody's toys; she's thinking too much of her new stock.
Two or three will do. There! go now."

Diamond rose, quite sorry, and without a word left the shop,
and went home.

It soon appeared that his mother had been right about him,
for that same afternoon his head began to ache very much, and he
had to go to bed.

He awoke in the middle of the night. The lattice window of his room
had blown open, and the curtains of his little bed were swinging
about in the wind.

"If that should be North Wind now!" thought Diamond.

But the next moment he heard some one closing the window,
and his aunt came to his bedside. She put her hand on his face,
and said--

"How's your head, dear?"

"Better, auntie, I think."

"Would you like something to drink?"

"Oh, yes! I should, please."

So his aunt gave him some lemonade, for she had been used
to nursing sick people, and Diamond felt very much refreshed,
and laid his head down again to go very fast asleep, as he thought.
And so he did, but only to come awake again, as a fresh burst of wind
blew the lattice open a second time. The same moment he found
himself in a cloud of North Wind's hair, with her beautiful face,
set in it like a moon, bending over him.

"Quick, Diamond!" she said. "I have found such a chance!"

"But I'm not well," said Diamond.

"I know that, but you will be better for a little fresh air.
You shall have plenty of that."

"You want me to go, then?"

"Yes, I do. It won't hurt you."

"Very well," said Diamond; and getting out of the bed-clothes, he
jumped into North Wind's arms.

"We must make haste before your aunt comes," said she, as she
glided out of the open lattice and left it swinging.

The moment Diamond felt her arms fold around him he began to
feel better. It was a moonless night, and very dark, with glimpses
of stars when the clouds parted.

"I used to dash the waves about here," said North Wind, "where cows
and sheep are feeding now; but we shall soon get to them.
There they are."

And Diamond, looking down, saw the white glimmer of breaking water
far below him.

"You see, Diamond," said North Wind, "it is very difficult for me
to get you to the back of the north wind, for that country lies
in the very north itself, and of course I can't blow northwards."

"Why not?" asked Diamond.

"You little silly!" said North Wind. "Don't you see that if I
were to blow northwards I should be South Wind, and that is as much
as to say that one person could be two persons?"

"But how can you ever get home at all, then?"

"You are quite right--that is my home, though I never get farther than
the outer door. I sit on the doorstep, and hear the voices inside.
I am nobody there, Diamond."

"I'm very sorry."

"Why?"

"That you should be nobody."

"Oh, I don't mind it. Dear little man! you will be very glad some
day to be nobody yourself. But you can't understand that now,
and you had better not try; for if you do, you will be certain to go
fancying some egregious nonsense, and making yourself miserable
about it."

"Then I won't," said Diamond.

"There's a good boy. It will all come in good time."

"But you haven't told me how you get to the doorstep, you know."

"It is easy enough for me. I have only to consent to be nobody,
and there I am. I draw into myself and there I am on the doorstep.
But you can easily see, or you have less sense than I think,
that to drag you, you heavy thing, along with me, would take centuries,
and I could not give the time to it."

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" said Diamond.

"What for now, pet?"

"That I'm so heavy for you. I would be lighter if I could, but I
don't know how."

"You silly darling! Why, I could toss you a hundred miles from me
if I liked. It is only when I am going home that I shall find
you heavy."

"Then you are going home with me?"

"Of course. Did I not come to fetch you just for that?"

"But all this time you must be going southwards."

"Yes. Of course I am."

"How can you be taking me northwards, then?"

"A very sensible question. But you shall see. I will get
rid of a few of these clouds--only they do come up so fast!
It's like trying to blow a brook dry. There! What do you see now?"

"I think I see a little boat, away there, down below."

"A little boat, indeed! Well! She's a yacht of two hundred tons;
and the captain of it is a friend of mine; for he is a man of
good sense, and can sail his craft well. I've helped him many
a time when he little thought it. I've heard him grumbling at me,
when I was doing the very best I could for him. Why, I've carried
him eighty miles a day, again and again, right north."

"He must have dodged for that," said Diamond, who had been watching
the vessels, and had seen that they went other ways than the wind blew.

"Of course he must. But don't you see, it was the best I could do?
I couldn't be South Wind. And besides it gave him a share in
the business. It is not good at all--mind that, Diamond--to do
everything for those you love, and not give them a share in the doing.
It's not kind. It's making too much of yourself, my child.
If I had been South Wind, he would only have smoked his pipe all day,
and made himself stupid."

"But how could he be a man of sense and grumble at you when you
were doing your best for him?"

"Oh! you must make allowances," said North Wind, "or you will never
do justice to anybody.--You do understand, then, that a captain
may sail north----"

"In spite of a north wind--yes," supplemented Diamond.

"Now, I do think you must be stupid, my, dear" said North Wind.
"Suppose the north wind did not blow where would he be then?"

"Why then the south wind would carry him."

"So you think that when the north wind stops the south wind blows.
Nonsense. If I didn't blow, the captain couldn't sail his eighty
miles a day. No doubt South Wind would carry him faster, but South
Wind is sitting on her doorstep then, and if I stopped there would
be a dead calm. So you are all wrong to say he can sail north
in spite of me; he sails north by my help, and my help alone.
You see that, Diamond?"

"Yes, I do, North Wind. I am stupid, but I don't want to be stupid."

"Good boy! I am going to blow you north in that little craft, one of
the finest that ever sailed the sea. Here we are, right over it.
I shall be blowing against you; you will be sailing against me;
and all will be just as we want it. The captain won't get on
so fast as he would like, but he will get on, and so shall we.
I'm just going to put you on board. Do you see in front of the tiller--
that thing the man is working, now to one side, now to the other--
a round thing like the top of a drum?"

"Yes," said Diamond.

"Below that is where they keep their spare sails, and some stores
of that sort. I am going to blow that cover off. The same moment
I will drop you on deck, and you must tumble in. Don't be afraid,
it is of no depth, and you will fall on sail-cloth. You will find it
nice and warm and dry-only dark; and you will know I am near you by
every roll and pitch of the vessel. Coil yourself up and go to sleep.
The yacht shall be my cradle and you shall be my baby."

"Thank you, dear North Wind. I am not a bit afraid," said Diamond.

In a moment they were on a level with the bulwarks, and North Wind
sent the hatch of the after-store rattling away over the deck
to leeward. The next, Diamond found himself in the dark, for he
had tumbled through the hole as North Wind had told him, and the
cover was replaced over his head. Away he went rolling to leeward,
for the wind began all at once to blow hard. He heard the call
of the captain, and the loud trampling of the men over his head,
as they hauled at the main sheet to get the boom on board that they
might take in a reef in the mainsail. Diamond felt about until
he had found what seemed the most comfortable place, and there he
snuggled down and lay.

Hours after hours, a great many of them, went by; and still
Diamond lay there. He never felt in the least tired or impatient,
for a strange pleasure filled his heart. The straining of the masts,
the creaking of the boom, the singing of the ropes, the banging
of the blocks as they put the vessel about, all fell in with the
roaring of the wind above, the surge of the waves past her sides,
and the thud with which every now and then one would strike her;
while through it all Diamond could hear the gurgling, rippling,
talking flow of the water against her planks, as she slipped through it,
lying now on this side, now on that--like a subdued air running
through the grand music his North Wind was making about him to keep
him from tiring as they sped on towards the country at the back
of her doorstep.

How long this lasted Diamond had no idea. He seemed to fall
asleep sometimes, only through the sleep he heard the sounds going on.
At length the weather seemed to get worse. The confusion and
trampling of feet grew more frequent over his head; the vessel lay
over more and more on her side, and went roaring through the waves,
which banged and thumped at her as if in anger. All at once arose
a terrible uproar. The hatch was blown off; a cold fierce wind
swept in upon him; and a long arm came with it which laid hold
of him and lifted him out. The same moment he saw the little vessel
far below him righting herself. She had taken in all her sails
and lay now tossing on the waves like a sea-bird with folded wings.
A short distance to the south lay a much larger vessel, with two
or three sails set, and towards it North Wind was carrying Diamond.
It was a German ship, on its way to the North Pole.

"That vessel down there will give us a lift now," said North Wind;
"and after that I must do the best I can."

She managed to hide him amongst the flags of the big ship,
which were all snugly stowed away, and on and on they sped
towards the north. At length one night she whispered in his ear,
"Come on deck, Diamond;" and he got up at once and crept on deck.
Everything looked very strange. Here and there on all sides were
huge masses of floating ice, looking like cathedrals, and castles,
and crags, while away beyond was a blue sea.

"Is the sun rising or setting?" asked Diamond.

"Neither or both, which you please. I can hardly tell which myself.
If he is setting now, he will be rising the next moment."

"What a strange light it is!" said Diamond. "I have heard
that the sun doesn't go to bed all the summer in these parts.
Miss Coleman told me that. I suppose he feels very sleepy,
and that is why the light he sends out looks so like a dream."

"That will account for it well enough for all practical purposes,"
said North Wind.

Some of the icebergs were drifting northwards; one was passing
very near the ship. North Wind seized Diamond, and with a single
bound lighted on one of them--a huge thing, with sharp pinnacles and
great clefts. The same instant a wind began to blow from the south.
North Wind hurried Diamond down the north side of the iceberg,
stepping by its jags and splintering; for this berg had never got
far enough south to be melted and smoothed by the summer sun.
She brought him to a cave near the water, where she entered, and,
letting Diamond go, sat down as if weary on a ledge of ice.

Diamond seated himself on the other side, and for a while was
enraptured with the colour of the air inside the cave. It was a deep,
dazzling, lovely blue, deeper than the deepest blue of the sky.
The blue seemed to be in constant motion, like the blackness when
you press your eyeballs with your fingers, boiling and sparkling.
But when he looked across to North Wind he was frightened;
her face was worn and livid.

"What is the matter with you, dear North Wind?" he said.

"Nothing much. I feel very faint. But you mustn't mind it,
for I can bear it quite well. South Wind always blows me faint.
If it were not for the cool of the thick ice between me and her,
I should faint altogether. Indeed, as it is, I fear I must vanish."

Diamond stared at her in terror, for he saw that her form and face
were growing, not small, but transparent, like something dissolving,
not in water, but in light. He could see the side of the blue cave
through her very heart. And she melted away till all that was left
was a pale face, like the moon in the morning, with two great lucid
eyes in it.

"I am going, Diamond," she said.

"Does it hurt you?" asked Diamond.

"It's very uncomfortable," she answered; "but I don't mind it,
for I shall come all right again before long. I thought I should
be able to go with you all the way, but I cannot. You must not be
frightened though. Just go straight on, and you will come all right.
You'll find me on the doorstep."

As she spoke, her face too faded quite away, only Diamond
thought he could still see her eyes shining through the blue.
When he went closer, however, he found that what he thought her
eyes were only two hollows in the ice. North Wind was quite gone;
and Diamond would have cried, if he had not trusted her so thoroughly.
So he sat still in the blue air of the cavern listening to the wash
and ripple of the water all about the base of the iceberg, as it
sped on and on into the open sea northwards. It was an excellent
craft to go with the current, for there was twice as much of it
below water as above. But a light south wind was blowing too,
and so it went fast.

After a little while Diamond went out and sat on the edge of his
floating island, and looked down into the ocean beneath him.
The white sides of the berg reflected so much light below the water,
that he could see far down into the green abyss. Sometimes he
fancied he saw the eyes of North Wind looking up at him from below,
but the fancy never lasted beyond the moment of its birth. And the time
passed he did not know how, for he felt as if he were in a dream.
When he got tired of the green water, he went into the blue cave;
and when he got tired of the blue cave he went out and gazed all
about him on the blue sea, ever sparkling in the sun, which kept
wheeling about the sky, never going below the horizon. But he
chiefly gazed northwards, to see whether any land were appearing.
All this time he never wanted to eat. He broke off little bits
of the berg now and then and sucked them, and he thought them
very nice.

At length, one time he came out of his cave, he spied far off on
the horizon, a shining peak that rose into the sky like the top
of some tremendous iceberg; and his vessel was bearing him straight
towards it. As it went on the peak rose and rose higher and higher
above the horizon; and other peaks rose after it, with sharp edges
and jagged ridges connecting them. Diamond thought this must be
the place he was going to; and he was right; for the mountains rose
and rose, till he saw the line of the coast at their feet and at
length the iceberg drove into a little bay, all around which were
lofty precipices with snow on their tops, and streaks of ice down
their sides. The berg floated slowly up to a projecting rock.
Diamond stepped on shore, and without looking behind him began to follow
a natural path which led windingly towards the top of the precipice.

When he reached it, he found himself on a broad table of ice,
along which he could walk without much difficulty. Before him,
at a considerable distance, rose a lofty ridge of ice, which shot up
into fantastic pinnacles and towers and battlements. The air was
very cold, and seemed somehow dead, for there was not the slightest
breath of wind.

In the centre of the ridge before him appeared a gap like the opening
of a valley. But as he walked towards it, gazing, and wondering
whether that could be the way he had to take, he saw that what had
appeared a gap was the form of a woman seated against the ice
front of the ridge, leaning forwards with her hands in her lap,
and her hair hanging down to the ground.

"It is North Wind on her doorstep," said Diamond joyfully,
and hurried on.

He soon came up to the place, and there the form sat, like one of
the great figures at the door of an Egyptian temple, motionless,
with drooping arms and head. Then Diamond grew frightened,
because she did not move nor speak. He was sure it was North Wind,
but he thought she must be dead at last. Her face was white as
the snow, her eyes were blue as the air in the ice-cave, and her
hair hung down straight, like icicles. She had on a greenish robe,
like the colour in the hollows of a glacier seen from far off.

He stood up before her, and gazed fearfully into her face for a few
minutes before he ventured to speak. At length, with a great effort
and a trembling voice, he faltered out--

"North Wind!"

"Well, child?" said the form, without lifting its head.

"Are you ill, dear North Wind?"

"No. I am waiting."

"What for?"

"Till I'm wanted."

"You don't care for me any more," said Diamond, almost crying now.

"Yes I do. Only I can't show it. All my love is down at the bottom
of my heart. But I feel it bubbling there."

"What do you want me to do next, dear North Wind?" said Diamond,
wishing to show his love by being obedient.

"What do you want to do yourself?"

"I want to go into the country at your back."

"Then you must go through me."

"I don't know what you mean."

"I mean just what I say. You must walk on as if I were an open door,
and go right through me."

"But that will hurt you."

"Not in the least. It will hurt you, though."

"I don't mind that, if you tell me to do it."

"Do it," said North Wind.

Diamond walked towards her instantly. When he reached her knees,
he put out his hand to lay it on her, but nothing was there save
an intense cold. He walked on. Then all grew white about him;
and the cold stung him like fire. He walked on still, groping through
the whiteness. It thickened about him. At last, it got into his heart,
and he lost all sense. I would say that he fainted--only whereas
in common faints all grows black about you, he felt swallowed up
in whiteness. It was when he reached North Wind's heart that he
fainted and fell. But as he fell, he rolled over the threshold,
and it was thus that Diamond got to the back of the north wind.

CHAPTER X

AT THE BACK OF THE NORTH WIND

I HAVE now come to the most difficult part of my story. And why?
Because I do not know enough about it. And why should I not know
as much about this part as about any other part? For of course
I could know nothing about the story except Diamond had told it;
and why should not Diamond tell about the country at the back of
the north wind, as well as about his adventures in getting there?
Because, when he came back, he had forgotten a great deal,
and what he did remember was very hard to tell. Things there
are so different from things here! The people there do not speak
the same language for one thing. Indeed, Diamond insisted that
there they do not speak at all. I do not think he was right,
but it may well have appeared so to Diamond. The fact is, we have
different reports of the place from the most trustworthy people.
Therefore we are bound to believe that it appears somewhat different
to different people. All, however, agree in a general way about it.

I will tell you something of what two very different people have reported,
both of whom knew more about it, I believe, than Herodotus.
One of them speaks from his own experience, for he visited the country;
the other from the testimony of a young peasant girl who came back
from it for a month's visit to her friends. The former was a great
Italian of noble family, who died more than five hundred years ago;
the latter a Scotch shepherd who died not forty years ago.

The Italian, then, informs us that he had to enter that country
through a fire so hot that he would have thrown himself into
boiling glass to cool himself. This was not Diamond's experience,
but then Durante--that was the name of the Italian, and it means Lasting,
for his books will last as long as there are enough men in the world
worthy of having them--Durante was an elderly man, and Diamond was
a little boy, and so their experience must be a little different.
The peasant girl, on the other hand, fell fast asleep in a wood,
and woke in the same country.

In describing it, Durante says that the ground everywhere smelt sweetly,
and that a gentle, even-tempered wind, which never blew faster
or slower, breathed in his face as he went, making all the leaves
point one way, not so as to disturb the birds in the tops of
the trees, but, on the contrary, sounding a bass to their song.
He describes also a little river which was so full that its little waves,
as it hurried along, bent the grass, full of red and yellow flowers,
through which it flowed. He says that the purest stream in the world
beside this one would look as if it were mixed with something that did
not belong to it, even although it was flowing ever in the brown
shadow of the trees, and neither sun nor moon could shine upon it.
He seems to imply that it is always the month of May in that country.
It would be out of place to describe here the wonderful sights he saw,
for the music of them is in another key from that of this story,
and I shall therefore only add from the account of this traveller,
that the people there are so free and so just and so healthy,
that every one of them has a crown like a king and a mitre like
a priest.

The peasant girl--Kilmeny was her name--could not report such grand
things as Durante, for, as the shepherd says, telling her story
as I tell Diamond's--

"Kilmeny had been she knew not where,
And Kilmeny had seen what she could not declare;
Kilmeny had been where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew.
But it seemed as the harp of the sky had rung,
And the airs of heaven played round her tongue,
When she spoke of the lovely forms she had seen,
And a land where sin had never been;
A land of love and a land of light,
Withouten sun, or moon, or night;
Where the river swayed a living stream,
And the light a pure and cloudless beam:
The land of vision it would seem,
And still an everlasting dream."

The last two lines are the shepherd's own remark, and a matter
of opinion. But it is clear, I think, that Kilmeny must have described
the same country as Durante saw, though, not having his experience,
she could neither understand nor describe it so well.

Now I must give you such fragments of recollection as Diamond
was able to bring back with him.

When he came to himself after he fell, he found himself at the back
of the north wind. North Wind herself was nowhere to be seen.
Neither was there a vestige of snow or of ice within sight.
The sun too had vanished; but that was no matter, for there was
plenty of a certain still rayless light. Where it came from he
never found out; but he thought it belonged to the country itself.
Sometimes he thought it came out of the flowers, which were very bright,
but had no strong colour. He said the river--for all agree that there
is a river there--flowed not only through, but over grass: its channel,
instead of being rock, stones, pebbles, sand, or anything else,
was of pure meadow grass, not over long. He insisted that if it
did not sing tunes in people's ears, it sung tunes in their heads,
in proof of which I may mention that, in the troubles which followed,
Diamond was often heard singing; and when asked what he was singing,
would answer, "One of the tunes the river at the back of the north
wind sung." And I may as well say at once that Diamond never told
these things to any one but--no, I had better not say who it was;
but whoever it was told me, and I thought it would be well to write them
for my child-readers.

He could not say he was very happy there, for he had neither
his father nor mother with him, but he felt so still and quiet
and patient and contented, that, as far as the mere feeling went,
it was something better than mere happiness. Nothing went wrong
at the back of the north wind. Neither was anything quite right,
he thought. Only everything was going to be right some day.
His account disagreed with that of Durante, and agreed with that
of Kilmeny, in this, that he protested there was no wind there at all.
I fancy he missed it. At all events we could not do without wind.
It all depends on how big our lungs are whether the wind is too strong
for us or not.

When the person he told about it asked him whether he saw anybody he
knew there, he answered, "Only a little girl belonging to the gardener,
who thought he had lost her, but was quite mistaken, for there she
was safe enough, and was to come back some day, as I came back,
if they would only wait."

"Did you talk to her, Diamond?"

"No. Nobody talks there. They only look at each other,
and understand everything."

"Is it cold there?"

"No."

"Is it hot?"

"No."

"What is it then?"

"You never think about such things there."

"What a queer place it must be!"

"It's a very good place."

"Do you want to go back again?"

"No; I don't think I have left it; I feel it here, somewhere."

"Did the people there look pleased?"

"Yes--quite pleased, only a little sad."

"Then they didn't look glad?"

"They looked as if they were waiting to be gladder some day."

This was how Diamond used to answer questions about that country.
And now I will take up the story again, and tell you how he got back
to this country.

CHAPTER XI

HOW DIAMOND GOT HOME AGAIN

WHEN one at the back of the north wind wanted to know how things
were going with any one he loved, he had to go to a certain tree,
climb the stem, and sit down in the branches. In a few minutes,
if he kept very still, he would see something at least of what was
going on with the people he loved.

One day when Diamond was sitting in this tree, he began to long very
much to get home again, and no wonder, for he saw his mother crying.
Durante says that the people there may always follow their wishes,
because they never wish but what is good. Diamond's wish was to
get home, and he would fain follow his wish.

But how was he to set about it? If he could only see North Wind!
But the moment he had got to her back, she was gone altogether from
his sight. He had never seen her back. She might be sitting on
her doorstep still, looking southwards, and waiting, white and thin
and blue-eyed, until she was wanted. Or she might have again become
a mighty creature, with power to do that which was demanded of her,
and gone far away upon many missions. She must be somewhere, however.
He could not go home without her, and therefore he must find her.
She could never have intended to leave him always away from his mother.
If there had been any danger of that, she would have told him,
and given him his choice about going. For North Wind was right honest.
How to find North Wind, therefore, occupied all his thoughts.

In his anxiety about his mother, he used to climb the tree every day,
and sit in its branches. However many of the dwellers there did so,
they never incommoded one another; for the moment one got into
the tree, he became invisible to every one else; and it was such
a wide-spreading tree that there was room for every one of the
people of the country in it, without the least interference with
each other. Sometimes, on getting down, two of them would meet
at the root, and then they would smile to each other more sweetly
than at any other time, as much as to say, "Ah, you've been up there too!"

One day he was sitting on one of the outer branches of the tree,
looking southwards after his home. Far away was a blue shining sea,
dotted with gleaming and sparkling specks of white. Those were
the icebergs. Nearer he saw a great range of snow-capped mountains,
and down below him the lovely meadow-grass of the country, with the
stream flowing and flowing through it, away towards the sea.
As he looked he began to wonder, for the whole country lay beneath him
like a map, and that which was near him looked just as small as that
which he knew to be miles away. The ridge of ice which encircled it
appeared but a few yards off, and no larger than the row of pebbles
with which a child will mark out the boundaries of the kingdom he
has appropriated on the sea-shore. He thought he could distinguish
the vapoury form of North Wind, seated as he had left her, on the
other side. Hastily he descended the tree, and to his amazement
found that the map or model of the country still lay at his feet.
He stood in it. With one stride he had crossed the river;
with another he had reached the ridge of ice; with the third he
stepped over its peaks, and sank wearily down at North Wind's knees.
For there she sat on her doorstep. The peaks of the great ridge
of ice were as lofty as ever behind her, and the country at her back
had vanished from Diamond's view.

North Wind was as still as Diamond had left her. Her pale face
was white as the snow, and her motionless eyes were as blue
as the caverns in the ice. But the instant Diamond touched her,
her face began to change like that of one waking from sleep.
Light began to glimmer from the blue of her eyes.

A moment more, and she laid her hand on Diamond's head, and began
playing with his hair. Diamond took hold of her hand, and laid
his face to it. She gave a little start.

"How very alive you are, child!" she murmured. "Come nearer to me."

By the help of the stones all around he clambered up beside her,
and laid himself against her bosom. She gave a great sigh,
slowly lifted her arms, and slowly folded them about him,
until she clasped him close. Yet a moment, and she roused herself,
and came quite awake; and the cold of her bosom, which had pierced
Diamond's bones, vanished.

"Have you been sitting here ever since I went through you,
dear North Wind?" asked Diamond, stroking her hand.

"Yes," she answered, looking at him with her old kindness.

"Ain't you very tired?"

"No; I've often had to sit longer. Do you know how long you
have been?"

"Oh! years and years," answered Diamond.

"You have just been seven days," returned North Wind.

"I thought I had been a hundred years!" exclaimed Diamond.

"Yes, I daresay," replied North Wind. "You've been away
from here seven days; but how long you may have been in
there is quite another thing. Behind my back and before
my face things are so different! They don't go at all by the same rule."

"I'm very glad," said Diamond, after thinking a while.

"Why?" asked North Wind.

"Because I've been such a long time there, and such a little while away
from mother. Why, she won't be expecting me home from Sandwich yet!"

"No. But we mustn't talk any longer. I've got my orders now,
and we must be off in a few minutes."

Next moment Diamond found himself sitting alone on the rock.
North Wind had vanished. A creature like a great humble-bee or
cockchafer flew past his face; but it could be neither, for there
were no insects amongst the ice. It passed him again and again,
flying in circles around him, and he concluded that it must be
North Wind herself, no bigger than Tom Thumb when his mother put
him in the nutshell lined with flannel. But she was no longer
vapoury and thin. She was solid, although tiny. A moment more,
and she perched on his shoulder.

"Come along, Diamond," she said in his ear, in the smallest and highest
of treble voices; "it is time we were setting out for Sandwich."

Diamond could just see her, by turning his head towards
his shoulder as far as he could, but only with one eye,
for his nose came between her and the other.

"Won't you take me in your arms and carry me?" he said in a whisper,
for he knew she did not like a loud voice when she was small.

"Ah! you ungrateful boy," returned North Wind, smiling "how dare
you make game of me? Yes, I will carry you, but you shall walk
a bit for your impertinence first. Come along."

She jumped from his shoulder, but when Diamond looked for her upon
the ground, he could see nothing but a little spider with long legs
that made its way over the ice towards the south. It ran very fast
indeed for a spider, but Diamond ran a long way before it, and then
waited for it. It was up with him sooner than he had expected,
however, and it had grown a good deal. And the spider grew and grew
and went faster and faster, till all at once Diamond discovered
that it was not a spider, but a weasel; and away glided the weasel,
and away went Diamond after it, and it took all the run there was
in him to keep up with the weasel. And the weasel grew, and grew,
and grew, till all at once Diamond saw that the weasel was not
a weasel but a cat. And away went the cat, and Diamond after it.
And when he had run half a mile, he found the cat waiting for him,
sitting up and washing her face not to lose time. And away went
the cat again, and Diamond after it. But the next time he came
up with the cat, the cat was not a cat, but a hunting-leopard.
And the hunting-leopard grew to a jaguar, all covered with spots
like eyes. And the jaguar grew to a Bengal tiger. And at none
of them was Diamond afraid, for he had been at North Wind's back,
and he could be afraid of her no longer whatever she did or grew.
And the tiger flew over the snow in a straight line for the south,
growing less and less to Diamond's eyes till it was only a black
speck upon the whiteness; and then it vanished altogether.
And now Diamond felt that he would rather not run any farther,
and that the ice had got very rough. Besides, he was near the
precipices that bounded the sea, so he slackened his pace to a walk,
saying aloud to himself:

"When North Wind has punished me enough for making game of her,
she will come back to me; I know she will, for I can't go much
farther without her."

"You dear boy! It was only in fun. Here I am!" said North Wind's
voice behind him.

Diamond turned, and saw her as he liked best to see her,
standing beside him, a tall lady.

"Where's the tiger?" he asked, for he knew all the creatures from
a picture book that Miss Coleman had given him. "But, of course,"
he added, "you were the tiger. I was puzzled and forgot. I saw
it such a long way off before me, and there you were behind me.
It's so odd, you know."

"It must look very odd to you, Diamond: I see that. But it
is no more odd to me than to break an old pine in two."

"Well, that's odd enough," remarked Diamond.

"So it is! I forgot. Well, none of these things are odder to me
than it is to you to eat bread and butter."

"Well, that's odd too, when I think of it," persisted Diamond.
"I should just like a slice of bread and butter! I'm afraid to say
how long it is--how long it seems to me, that is--since I had anything
to eat."

"Come then," said North Wind, stooping and holding out her arms.
"You shall have some bread and butter very soon. I am glad to find
you want some."

Diamond held up his arms to meet hers, and was safe upon her bosom.
North Wind bounded into the air. Her tresses began to lift and
rise and spread and stream and flow and flutter; and with a roar
from her hair and an answering roar from one of the great glaciers
beside them, whose slow torrent tumbled two or three icebergs
at once into the waves at their feet, North Wind and Diamond went
flying southwards.

CHAPTER XII

WHO MET DIAMOND AT SANDWICH

As THEY flew, so fast they went that the sea slid away from under
them like a great web of shot silk, blue shot with grey, and green
shot with purple. They went so fast that the stars themselves
appeared to sail away past them overhead, "like golden boats,"
on a blue sea turned upside down. And they went so fast that Diamond
himself went the other way as fast--I mean he went fast asleep
in North Wind's arms.

When he woke, a face was bending over him; but it was not North Wind's;
it was his mother's. He put out his arms to her, and she clasped him
to her bosom and burst out crying. Diamond kissed her again and again
to make her stop. Perhaps kissing is the best thing for crying,
but it will not always stop it.

"What is the matter, mother?" he said.

"Oh, Diamond, my darling! you have been so ill!" she sobbed.

"No, mother dear. I've only been at the back of the north wind,"
returned Diamond.

"I thought you were dead," said his mother.

But that moment the doctor came in.

"Oh! there!" said the doctor with gentle cheerfulness; "we're better
to-day, I see."

Then he drew the mother aside, and told her not to talk to Diamond,
or to mind what he might say; for he must be kept as quiet as possible.
And indeed Diamond was not much inclined to talk, for he felt
very strange and weak, which was little wonder, seeing that all
the time he had been away he had only sucked a few lumps of ice,
and there could not be much nourishment in them.

Now while he is lying there, getting strong again with chicken
broth and other nice things, I will tell my readers what had been
taking place at his home, for they ought to be told it.

They may have forgotten that Miss Coleman was in a very poor
state of health. Now there were three reasons for this.
In the first place, her lungs were not strong. In the second place,
there was a gentleman somewhere who had not behaved very well to her.
In the third place, she had not anything particular to do.
These three nots together are enough to make a lady very ill indeed.
Of course she could not help the first cause; but if the other two
causes had not existed, that would have been of little consequence;
she would only have to be a little careful. The second she could not
help quite; but if she had had anything to do, and had done it well,
it would have been very difficult for any man to behave badly to her.
And for this third cause of her illness, if she had had anything
to do that was worth doing, she might have borne his bad behaviour
so that even that would not have made her ill. It is not always easy,
I confess, to find something to do that is worth doing, but the
most difficult things are constantly being done, and she might
have found something if she had tried. Her fault lay in this,
that she had not tried. But, to be sure, her father and mother
were to blame that they had never set her going. Only then again,
nobody had told her father and mother that they ought to set her going
in that direction. So as none of them would find it out of themselves,
North Wind had to teach them.

We know that North Wind was very busy that night on which she
left Diamond in the cathedral. She had in a sense been blowing
through and through the Colemans' house the whole of the night.
First, Miss Coleman's maid had left a chink of her mistress's
window open, thinking she had shut it, and North Wind had wound
a few of her hairs round the lady's throat. She was considerably
worse the next morning. Again, the ship which North Wind had sunk
that very night belonged to Mr. Coleman. Nor will my readers
understand what a heavy loss this was to him until I have informed
them that he had been getting poorer and poorer for some time.
He was not so successful in his speculations as he had been, for he
speculated a great deal more than was right, and it was time he
should be pulled up. It is a hard thing for a rich man to grow poor;
but it is an awful thing for him to grow dishonest, and some kinds
of speculation lead a man deep into dishonesty before he thinks
what he is about. Poverty will not make a man worthless--he may be
worth a great deal more when he is poor than he was when he was rich;
but dishonesty goes very far indeed to make a man of no value--
a thing to be thrown out in the dust-hole of the creation,
like a bit of a broken basin, or a dirty rag. So North Wind had
to look after Mr. Coleman, and try to make an honest man of him.
So she sank the ship which was his last venture, and he was what
himself and his wife and the world called ruined.

Nor was this all yet. For on board that vessel Miss Coleman's
lover was a passenger; and when the news came that the vessel had
gone down, and that all on board had perished, we may be sure she
did not think the loss of their fine house and garden and furniture
the greatest misfortune in the world.

Of course, the trouble did not end with Mr. Coleman and his family.
Nobody can suffer alone. When the cause of suffering is most deeply
hidden in the heart, and nobody knows anything about it but the
man himself, he must be a great and a good man indeed, such as few
of us have known, if the pain inside him does not make him behave
so as to cause all about him to be more or less uncomfortable.
But when a man brings money-troubles on himself by making haste
to be rich, then most of the people he has to do with must suffer
in the same way with himself. The elm-tree which North Wind blew
down that very night, as if small and great trials were to be
gathered in one heap, crushed Miss Coleman's pretty summer-house:
just so the fall of Mr. Coleman crushed the little family that
lived over his coach-house and stable. Before Diamond was well
enough to be taken home, there was no home for him to go to.
Mr. Coleman--or his creditors, for I do not know the particulars--
had sold house, carriage, horses, furniture, and everything.
He and his wife and daughter and Mrs. Crump had gone to live
in a small house in Hoxton, where he would be unknown,
and whence he could walk to his place of business in the City.
For he was not an old man, and hoped yet to retrieve his fortunes.
Let us hope that he lived to retrieve his honesty, the tail
of which had slipped through his fingers to the very last joint,
if not beyond it.

Of course, Diamond's father had nothing to do for a time, but it was
not so hard for him to have nothing to do as it was for Miss Coleman.
He wrote to his wife that, if her sister would keep her there till
he got a place, it would be better for them, and he would be greatly
obliged to her. Meantime, the gentleman who had bought the house
had allowed his furniture to remain where it was for a little while.

Diamond's aunt was quite willing to keep them as long as she could.
And indeed Diamond was not yet well enough to be moved with safety.

When he had recovered so far as to be able to go out, one day his
mother got her sister's husband, who had a little pony-cart, to carry
them down to the sea-shore, and leave them there for a few hours.
He had some business to do further on at Ramsgate, and would pick them
up as he returned. A whiff of the sea-air would do them both good,
she said, and she thought besides she could best tell Diamond
what had happened if she had him quite to herself.

CHAPTER XIII

THE SEASIDE

DIAMOND and his mother sat down upon the edge of the rough grass
that bordered the sand. The sun was just far enough past its
highest not to shine in their eyes when they looked eastward.
A sweet little wind blew on their left side, and comforted the
mother without letting her know what it was that comforted her.
Away before them stretched the sparkling waters of the ocean,
every wave of which flashed out its own delight back in the face
of the great sun, which looked down from the stillness of its blue
house with glorious silent face upon its flashing children.
On each hand the shore rounded outwards, forming a little bay.
There were no white cliffs here, as further north and south, and the
place was rather dreary, but the sky got at them so much the better.
Not a house, not a creature was within sight. Dry sand was about
their feet, and under them thin wiry grass, that just managed to grow
out of the poverty-stricken shore.

"Oh dear!" said Diamond's mother, with a deep sigh, "it's a sad world!"

"Is it?" said Diamond. "I didn't know."

"How should you know, child? You've been too well taken care of,
I trust."

"Oh yes, I have," returned Diamond. "I'm sorry! I thought you
were taken care of too. I thought my father took care of you.
I will ask him about it. I think he must have forgotten."

"Dear boy!" said his mother. "your father's the best man in the world."

"So I thought!" returned Diamond with triumph. "I was sure
of it!--Well, doesn't he take very good care of you?"

"Yes, yes, he does," answered his mother, bursting into tears.
"But who's to take care of him? And how is he to take care of us
if he's got nothing to eat himself?"

"Oh dear!" said Diamond with a gasp; "hasn't he got anything
to eat? Oh! I must go home to him."

"No, no, child. He's not come to that yet. But what's to become
of us, I don't know."

"Are you very hungry, mother? There's the basket. I thought you
put something to eat in it."

"O you darling stupid! I didn't say I was hungry," returned his mother,
smiling through her tears.

"Then I don't understand you at all," said Diamond. "Do tell me
what's the matter."

"There are people in the world who have nothing to eat, Diamond."

"Then I suppose they don't stop in it any longer. They--they--
what you call--die--don't they?"

"Yes, they do. How would you like that?"

"I don't know. I never tried. But I suppose they go where they
get something to eat."

"Like enough they don't want it," said his mother, petulantly.

"That's all right then," said Diamond, thinking I daresay more
than he chose to put in words.

"Is it though? Poor boy! how little you know about things!
Mr. Coleman's lost all his money, and your father has nothing to do,
and we shall have nothing to eat by and by."

"Are you sure, mother?"

"Sure of what?"

"Sure that we shall have nothing to eat."

"No, thank Heaven! I'm not sure of it. I hope not."

"Then I can't understand it, mother. There's a piece of gingerbread
in the basket, I know."

"O you little bird! You have no more sense than a sparrow that picks
what it wants, and never thinks of the winter and the frost and,
the snow."

"Ah--yes--I see. But the birds get through the winter, don't they?"

"Some of them fall dead on the ground."

"They must die some time. They wouldn't like to be birds always.
Would you, mother?"

"What a child it is!" thought his mother, but she said nothing.

"Oh! now I remember," Diamond went on. "Father told me that day I went
to Epping Forest with him, that the rose-bushes, and the may-bushes,
and the holly-bushes were the bird's barns, for there were the hips,
and the haws, and the holly-berries, all ready for the winter."

"Yes; that's all very true. So you see the birds are provided for.
But there are no such barns for you and me, Diamond."

"Ain't there?"

"No. We've got to work for our bread."

"Then let's go and work," said Diamond, getting up.

"It's no use. We've not got anything to do."

"Then let's wait."

"Then we shall starve."

"No. There's the basket. Do you know, mother, I think I shall call
that basket the barn."

"It's not a very big one. And when it's empty--where are we then?"

"At auntie's cupboard," returned Diamond promptly.

"But we can't eat auntie's things all up and leave her to starve."

"No, no. We'll go back to father before that. He'll have found
a cupboard somewhere by that time."

"How do you know that?"

"I don't know it. But I haven't got even a cupboard, and I've always
had plenty to eat. I've heard you say I had too much, sometimes."

"But I tell you that's because I've had a cupboard for you, child."

"And when yours was empty, auntie opened hers."

"But that can't go on."

"How do you know? I think there must be a big cupboard somewhere,
out of which the little cupboards are filled, you know, mother."

"Well, I wish I could find the door of that cupboard," said his mother.
But the same moment she stopped, and was silent for a good while.
I cannot tell whether Diamond knew what she was thinking, but I
think I know. She had heard something at church the day before,
which came back upon her--something like this, that she hadn't
to eat for tomorrow as well as for to-day; and that what was not
wanted couldn't be missed. So, instead of saying anything more,
she stretched out her hand for the basket, and she and Diamond had
their dinner.

And Diamond did enjoy it. For the drive and the fresh air had made
him quite hungry; and he did not, like his mother, trouble himself
about what they should dine off that day week. The fact was he had
lived so long without any food at all at the back of the north wind,
that he knew quite well that food was not essential to existence;
that in fact, under certain circumstances, people could live without
it well enough.

His mother did not speak much during their dinner. After it was
over she helped him to walk about a little, but he was not able
for much and soon got tired. He did not get fretful, though.
He was too glad of having the sun and the wind again, to fret
because he could not run about. He lay down on the dry sand,
and his mother covered him with a shawl. She then sat by his side,
and took a bit of work from her pocket. But Diamond felt rather
sleepy, and turned on his side and gazed sleepily over the sand.
A few yards off he saw something fluttering.

"What is that, mother?" he said.

"Only a bit of paper," she answered.

"It flutters more than a bit of paper would, I think," said Diamond.

"I'll go and see if you like," said his mother. "My eyes are none
of the best."

So she rose and went and found that they were both right, for it
was a little book, partly buried in the sand. But several of its
leaves were clear of the sand, and these the wind kept blowing about
in a very flutterful manner. She took it up and brought it to Diamond.

"What is it, mother?" he asked.

"Some nursery rhymes, I think," she answered.

"I'm too sleepy," said Diamond. "Do read some of them to me."

"Yes, I will," she said, and began one.--"But this is such nonsense!"
she said again. "I will try to find a better one."

She turned the leaves searching, but three times, with sudden puffs,
the wind blew the leaves rustling back to the same verses.

"Do read that one," said Diamond, who seemed to be of the same mind
as the wind. "It sounded very nice. I am sure it is a good one."

So his mother thought it might amuse him, though she couldn't
find any sense in it. She never thought he might understand it,
although she could not.

Now I do not exactly know what the mother read, but this is
what Diamond heard, or thought afterwards that he had heard.
He was, however, as I have said, very sleepy. And when he thought he
understood the verses he may have been only dreaming better ones.
This is how they went--

I know a river whose waters run asleep run run ever singing in the
shallows dumb in the hollows sleeping so deep and all the swallows
that dip their feathers in the hollows or in the shallows are the
merriest swallows of all for the nests they bake with the clay they
cake with the water they shake from their wings that rake the water
out of the shallows or the hollows will hold together in any weather
and so the swallows are the merriest fellows and have the merriest
children and are built so narrow like the head of an arrow to cut
the air and go just where the nicest water is flowing and the nicest
dust is blowing for each so narrow like head of an arrow is only
a barrow to carry the mud he makes from the nicest water flowing
and the nicest dust that is blowing to build his nest for her he
loves best with the nicest cakes which the sunshine bakes all for
their merry children all so callow with beaks that follow gaping
and hollow wider and wider after their father or after their mother
the food-provider who brings them a spider or a worm the poor hider
down in the earth so there's no dearth for their beaks as yellow
as the buttercups growing beside the flowing of the singing river
always and ever growing and blowing for fast as the sheep awake
or asleep crop them and crop them they cannot stop them but up they
creep and on they go blowing and so with the daisies the little
white praises they grow and they blow and they spread out their
crown and they praise the sun and when he goes down their praising
is done and they fold up their crown and they sleep every one till
over the plain he's shining amain and they're at it again praising
and praising such low songs raising that no one hears them but the sun
who rears them and the sheep that bite them are the quietest sheep
awake or asleep with the merriest bleat and the little lambs are
the merriest lambs they forget to eat for the frolic in their feet
and the lambs and their dams are the whitest sheep with the woolliest
wool and the longest wool and the trailingest tails and they shine
like snow in the grasses that grow by the singing river that sings
for ever and the sheep and the lambs are merry for ever because the
river sings and they drink it and the lambs and their dams are quiet
and white because of their diet for what they bite is buttercups
yellow and daisies white and grass as green as the river can make
it with wind as mellow to kiss it and shake it as never was seen
but here in the hollows beside the river where all the swallows
are merriest of fellows for the nests they make with the clay they
cake in the sunshine bake till they are like bone as dry in the wind
as a marble stone so firm they bind the grass in the clay that dries
in the wind the sweetest wind that blows by the river flowing
for ever but never you find whence comes the wind that blows on
the hollows and over the shallows where dip the swallows alive it
blows the life as it goes awake or asleep into the river that sings
as it flows and the life it blows into the sheep awake or asleep
with the woolliest wool and the trailingest tails and it never fails
gentle and cool to wave the wool and to toss the grass as the lambs
and the sheep over it pass and tug and bite with their teeth
so white and then with the sweep of their trailing tails smooth
it again and it grows amain and amain it grows and the wind as it
blows tosses the swallows over the hollows and down on the shallows
till every feather doth shake and quiver and all their feathers go
all together blowing the life and the joy so rife into the swallows
that skim the shallows and have the yellowest children for the wind
that blows is the life of the river flowing for ever that washes
the grasses still as it passes and feeds the daisies the little
white praises and buttercups bonny so golden and sunny with butter
and honey that whiten the sheep awake or asleep that nibble and bite
and grow whiter than white and merry and quiet on the sweet diet fed
by the river and tossed for ever by the wind that tosses the swallow
that crosses over the shallows dipping his wings to gather the water
and bake the cake that the wind shall make as hard as a bone as dry
as a stone it's all in the wind that blows from behind and all in
the river that flows for ever and all in the grasses and the white
daisies and the merry sheep awake or asleep and the happy swallows
skimming the shallows and it's all in the wind that blows from behind

Here Diamond became aware that his mother had stopped reading.

"Why don't you go on, mother dear?" he asked.

"It's such nonsense!" said his mother. "I believe it would go
on for ever."

"That's just what it did," said Diamond.

"What did?" she asked.

"Why, the river. That's almost the very tune it used to sing."

His mother was frightened, for she thought the fever was coming
on again. So she did not contradict him.

"Who made that poem?" asked Diamond.

"I don't know," she answered. "Some silly woman for her children,
I suppose--and then thought it good enough to print."

"She must have been at the back of the north wind some time
or other, anyhow," said Diamond. "She couldn't have got a hold of it
anywhere else. That's just how it went." And he began to chant
bits of it here and there; but his mother said nothing for fear
of making him, worse; and she was very glad indeed when she saw
her brother-in-law jogging along in his little cart. They lifted
Diamond in, and got up themselves, and away they went, "home again,
home again, home again," as Diamond sang. But he soon grew quiet,
and before they reached Sandwich he was fast asleep and dreaming
of the country at the back of the north wind.

CHAPTER XIV

OLD DIAMOND

AFTER this Diamond recovered so fast, that in a few days he was quite
able to go home as soon as his father had a place for them to go.
Now his father having saved a little money, and finding that no
situation offered itself, had been thinking over a new plan.
A strange occurrence it was which turned his thoughts in that direction.
He had a friend in the Bloomsbury region, who lived by letting
out cabs and horses to the cabmen. This man, happening to meet
him one day as he was returning from an unsuccessful application,
said to him:

"Why don't you set up for yourself now--in the cab line, I mean?"

"I haven't enough for that," answered Diamond's father.

"You must have saved a goodish bit, I should think. Just come home
with me now and look at a horse I can let you have cheap. I bought him
only a few weeks ago, thinking he'd do for a Hansom, but I was wrong.
He's got bone enough for a waggon, but a waggon ain't a Hansom.
He ain't got go enough for a Hansom. You see parties as takes
Hansoms wants to go like the wind, and he ain't got wind enough,

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