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At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald

Part 5 out of 6

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and every day?" resumed Mr. Raymond.

"So father says, when he feels his ribs of a morning. But then he
says the old horse do eat well, and the moment he's had his supper,
down he goes, and never gets up till he's called; and, for the legs
of him, father says that makes no end of a differ. Some horses, sir! they
won't lie down all night long, but go to sleep on their four pins,
like a haystack, father says. I think it's very stupid of them,
and so does old Diamond. But then I suppose they don't know better,
and so they can't help it. We mustn't be too hard upon them,
father says."

"Your father must be a good man, Diamond." Diamond looked up
in Mr. Raymond's face, wondering what he could mean.

"I said your father must be a good man, Diamond."

"Of course," said Diamond. "How could he drive a cab if he wasn't?"

"There are some men who drive cabs who are not very good,"
objected Mr. Raymond.

Diamond remembered the drunken cabman, and saw that his friend
was right.

"Ah, but," he returned, "he must be, you know, with such a horse
as old Diamond."

"That does make a difference," said Mr. Raymond. "But it is quite
enough that he is a good man without our trying to account for it.
Now, if you like, I will give you a proof that I think him a good man.
I am going away on the Continent for a while--for three months,
I believe--and I am going to let my house to a gentleman who does
not want the use of my brougham. My horse is nearly as old, I fancy,
as your Diamond, but I don't want to part with him, and I don't
want him to be idle; for nobody, as you say, ought to be idle;
but neither do I want him to be worked very hard. Now, it has come
into my head that perhaps your father would take charge of him,
and work him under certain conditions."

"My father will do what's right," said Diamond. "I'm sure of that."

"Well, so I think. Will you ask him when he comes home to call
and have a little chat with me--to-day, some time?"

"He must have his dinner first," said Diamond. "No, he's got
his dinner with him to-day. It must be after he's had his tea."

"Of course, of course. Any time will do. I shall be at home
all day."

"Very well, sir. I will tell him. You may be sure he will come.
My father thinks you a very kind gentleman, and I know he is right,
for I know your very own self, sir."

Mr. Raymond smiled, and as they had now reached his door,
they parted, and Diamond went home. As soon as his father entered
the house, Diamond gave him Mr. Raymond's message, and recounted
the conversation that had preceded it. His father said little,
but took thought-sauce to his bread and butter, and as soon as he
had finished his meal, rose, saying:

"I will go to your friend directly, Diamond. It would be a grand thing
to get a little more money. We do want it." Diamond accompanied
his father to Mr. Raymond's door, and there left him.

He was shown at once into Mr. Raymond's study, where he gazed with
some wonder at the multitude of books on the walls, and thought
what a learned man Mr. Raymond must be.

Presently Mr. Raymond entered, and after saying much the same
about his old horse, made the following distinct proposal--
one not over-advantageous to Diamond's father, but for which he
had reasons--namely, that Joseph should have the use of Mr. Raymond's
horse while he was away, on condition that he never worked him
more than six hours a day, and fed him well, and that, besides,
he should take Nanny home as soon as she was able to leave
the hospital, and provide for her as one of his own children,
neither better nor worse--so long, that is, as he had the horse.

Diamond's father could not help thinking it a pretty close bargain.
He should have both the girl and the horse to feed, and only six hours'
work out of the horse.

"It will save your own horse," said Mr. Raymond.

"That is true," answered Joseph; "but all I can get by my own horse
is only enough to keep us, and if I save him and feed your horse
and the girl--don't you see, sir?"

"Well, you can go home and think about it, and let me know
by the end of the week. I am in no hurry before then."

So Joseph went home and recounted the proposal to his wife,
adding that he did not think there was much advantage to be got
out of it.

"Not much that way, husband," said Diamond's mother; "but there
would be an advantage, and what matter who gets it!"

"I don't see it," answered her husband. "Mr. Raymond is a gentleman
of property, and I don't discover any much good in helping him to save
a little more. He won't easily get one to make such a bargain, and I
don't mean he shall get me. It would be a loss rather than a gain--
I do think--at least if I took less work out of our own horse."

"One hour would make a difference to old Diamond. But that's
not the main point. You must think what an advantage it would
be to the poor girl that hasn't a home to go to!"

"She is one of Diamond's friends," thought his father.

"I could be kind to her, you know," the mother went on, "and teach
her housework, and how to handle a baby; and, besides, she would
help me, and I should be the stronger for it, and able to do an odd
bit of charing now and then, when I got the chance."

"I won't hear of that," said her husband. "Have the girl by all means.
I'm ashamed I did not think of both sides of the thing at once.
I wonder if the horse is a great eater. To be sure, if I gave Diamond
two hours' additional rest, it would be all the better for the old bones
of him, and there would be four hours extra out of the other horse.
That would give Diamond something to do every day. He could drive
old Diamond after dinner, and I could take the other horse out for
six hours after tea, or in the morning, as I found best. It might
pay for the keep of both of them,--that is, if I had good luck.
I should like to oblige Mr. Raymond, though he be rather hard,
for he has been very kind to our Diamond, wife. Hasn't he now?"

"He has indeed, Joseph," said his wife, and there the conversation ended.

Diamond's father went the very next day to Mr. Raymond, and accepted
his proposal; so that the week after having got another stall in
the same stable, he had two horses instead of one. Oddly enough,
the name of the new horse was Ruby, for he was a very red chestnut.
Diamond's name came from a white lozenge on his forehead.
Young Diamond said they were rich now, with such a big diamond and
such a big ruby.

CHAPTER XXX

NANNY'S DREAM

NANNY was not fit to be moved for some time yet, and Diamond went
to see her as often as he could. But being more regularly engaged now,
seeing he went out every day for a few hours with old Diamond,
and had his baby to mind, and one of the horses to attend to,
he could not go so often as he would have liked.

One evening, as he sat by her bedside, she said to him:

"I've had such a beautiful dream, Diamond! I should like to tell
it you."

"Oh! do," said Diamond; "I am so fond of dreams!"

"She must have been to the back of the north wind," he said to himself.

"It was a very foolish dream, you know. But somehow it was so pleasant!
What a good thing it is that you believe the dream all the time
you are in it!"

My readers must not suppose that poor Nanny was able to say what she
meant so well as I put it down here. She had never been to school,
and had heard very little else than vulgar speech until she
came to the hospital. But I have been to school, and although
that could never make me able to dream so well as Nanny, it has
made me able to tell her dream better than she could herself.
And I am the more desirous of doing this for her that I have already
done the best I could for Diamond's dream, and it would be a shame
to give the boy all the advantage.

"I will tell you all I know about it," said Nanny. "The day
before yesterday, a lady came to see us--a very beautiful lady,
and very beautifully dressed. I heard the matron say to her that it
was very kind of her to come in blue and gold; and she answered that she
knew we didn't like dull colours. She had such a lovely shawl on,
just like redness dipped in milk, and all worked over with flowers
of the same colour. It didn't shine much, it was silk, but it kept
in the shine. When she came to my bedside, she sat down, just where
you are sitting, Diamond, and laid her hand on the counterpane.
I was sitting up, with my table before me ready for my tea. Her hand
looked so pretty in its blue glove, that I was tempted to stroke it.
I thought she wouldn't be angry, for everybody that comes to the
hospital is kind. It's only in the streets they ain't kind.
But she drew her hand away, and I almost cried, for I thought I
had been rude. Instead of that, however, it was only that she
didn't like giving me her glove to stroke, for she drew it off,
and then laid her hand where it was before. I wasn't sure, but I
ventured to put out my ugly hand."

"Your hand ain't ugly, Nanny," said Diamond; but Nanny went on--

"And I stroked it again, and then she stroked mine,--think of that!
And there was a ring on her finger, and I looked down to see what it
was like. And she drew it off, and put it upon one of my fingers.
It was a red stone, and she told me they called it a ruby."

"Oh, that is funny!" said Diamond. "Our new horse is called Ruby.
We've got another horse--a red one--such a beauty!"

But Nanny went on with her story.

"I looked at the ruby all the time the lady was talking to me,--
it was so beautiful! And as she talked I kept seeing deeper and deeper
into the stone. At last she rose to go away, and I began to pull
the ring off my finger; and what do you think she said?--"Wear
it all night, if you like. Only you must take care of it.
I can't give it you, for some one gave it to me; but you may keep it
till to-morrow." Wasn't it kind of her? I could hardly take my tea,
I was so delighted to hear it; and I do think it was the ring
that set me dreaming; for, after I had taken my tea, I leaned back,
half lying and half sitting, and looked at the ring on my finger.
By degrees I began to dream. The ring grew larger and larger,
until at last I found that I was not looking at a red stone,
but at a red sunset, which shone in at the end of a long street
near where Grannie lives. I was dressed in rags as I used to be,
and I had great holes in my shoes, at which the nasty mud came
through to my feet. I didn't use to mind it before, but now I thought
it horrid. And there was the great red sunset, with streaks of green
and gold between, standing looking at me. Why couldn't I live in
the sunset instead of in that dirt? Why was it so far away always?
Why did it never come into our wretched street? It faded away,
as the sunsets always do, and at last went out altogether.
Then a cold wind began to blow, and flutter all my rags about----"

"That was North Wind herself," said Diamond.

"Eh?" said Nanny, and went on with her story.

"I turned my back to it, and wandered away. I did not know where I
was going, only it was warmer to go that way. I don't think it
was a north wind, for I found myself in the west end at last.
But it doesn't matter in a dream which wind it was."

"I don't know that," said Diamond. "I believe North Wind can get
into our dreams--yes, and blow in them. Sometimes she has blown
me out of a dream altogether."

"I don't know what you mean, Diamond," said Nanny.

"Never mind," answered Diamond. "Two people can't always understand
each other. They'd both be at the back of the north wind directly,
and what would become of the other places without them?"

"You do talk so oddly!" said Nanny. "I sometimes think they must
have been right about you."

"What did they say about me?" asked Diamond.

"They called you God's baby."

"How kind of them! But I knew that."

"Did you know what it meant, though? It meant that you were not
right in the head."

"I feel all right," said Diamond, putting both hands to his head,
as if it had been a globe he could take off and set on again.

"Well, as long as you are pleased I am pleased," said Nanny.

"Thank you, Nanny. Do go on with your story. I think I like
dreams even better than fairy tales. But they must be nice ones,
like yours, you know."

"Well, I went on, keeping my back to the wind, until I came to a fine
street on the top of a hill. How it happened I don't know, but the
front door of one of the houses was open, and not only the front door,
but the back door as well, so that I could see right through the house--
and what do you think I saw? A garden place with green grass,
and the moon shining upon it! Think of that! There was no moon
in the street, but through the house there was the moon. I looked
and there was nobody near: I would not do any harm, and the grass
was so much nicer than the mud! But I couldn't think of going on
the grass with such dirty shoes: I kicked them off in the gutter,
and ran in on my bare feet, up the steps, and through the house,
and on to the grass; and the moment I came into the moonlight,
I began to feel better."

"That's why North Wind blew you there," said Diamond.

"It came of Mr. Raymond's story about Princess Daylight," returned Nanny.
"Well, I lay down upon the grass in the moonlight without thinking
how I was to get out again. Somehow the moon suited me exactly.
There was not a breath of the north wind you talk about; it was
quite gone."

"You didn't want her any more, just then. She never goes where she's
not wanted," said Diamond. "But she blew you into the moonlight, anyhow."

"Well, we won't dispute about it," said Nanny: "you've got
a tile loose, you know."

"Suppose I have," returned Diamond, "don't you see it may let
in the moonlight, or the sunlight for that matter?"

"Perhaps yes, perhaps no," said Nanny.

"And you've got your dreams, too, Nanny."

"Yes, but I know they're dreams."

"So do I. But I know besides they are something more as well."

"Oh! do you?" rejoined Nanny. "I don't."

"All right," said Diamond. "Perhaps you will some day."

"Perhaps I won't," said Nanny.

Diamond held his peace, and Nanny resumed her story.

"I lay a long time, and the moonlight got in at every tear
in my clothes, and made me feel so happy----"

"There, I tell you!" said Diamond.

"What do you tell me?" returned Nanny.

"North Wind----"

"It was the moonlight, I tell you," persisted Nanny, and again
Diamond held his peace.

"All at once I felt that the moon was not shining so strong.
I looked up, and there was a cloud, all crapey and fluffy,
trying to drown the beautiful creature. But the moon was so round,
just like a whole plate, that the cloud couldn't stick to her.
She shook it off, and said there and shone out clearer and brighter
than ever. But up came a thicker cloud,--and "You shan't,"
said the moon; and "I will," said the cloud,--but it couldn't: out
shone the moon, quite laughing at its impudence. I knew her ways,
for I've always been used to watch her. She's the only thing worth
looking at in our street at night."

"Don't call it your street," said Diamond. "You're not going back
to it. You're coming to us, you know."

"That's too good to be true," said Nanny.

"There are very few things good enough to be true," said Diamond;
"but I hope this is. Too good to be true it can't be. Isn't true
good? and isn't good good? And how, then, can anything be too good
to be true? That's like old Sal--to say that."

"Don't abuse Grannie, Diamond. She's a horrid old thing,
she and her gin bottle; but she'll repent some day, and then
you'll be glad not to have said anything against her."

"Why?" said Diamond.

"Because you'll be sorry for her."

"I am sorry for her now."

"Very well. That's right. She'll be sorry too. And there'll
be an end of it."

"All right. You come to us," said Diamond.

"Where was I?" said Nanny.

"Telling me how the moon served the clouds."

"Yes. But it wouldn't do, all of it. Up came the clouds and the clouds,
and they came faster and faster, until the moon was covered up.
You couldn't expect her to throw off a hundred of them at once--
could you?"

"Certainly not," said Diamond.

"So it grew very dark; and a dog began to yelp in the house. I looked
and saw that the door to the garden was shut. Presently it was opened--
not to let me out, but to let the dog in--yelping and bounding.
I thought if he caught sight of me, I was in for a biting first,
and the police after. So I jumped up, and ran for a little
summer-house in the corner of the garden. The dog came after me,
but I shut the door in his face. It was well it had a door--
wasn't it?"

"You dreamed of the door because you wanted it," said Diamond.

"No, I didn't; it came of itself. It was there, in the true dream."

"There--I've caught you!" said Diamond. "I knew you believed
in the dream as much as I do."

"Oh, well, if you will lay traps for a body!" said Nanny.
"Anyhow, I was safe inside the summer-house. And what do you think?--
There was the moon beginning to shine again--but only through
one of the panes--and that one was just the colour of the ruby.
Wasn't it funny?"

"No, not a bit funny," said Diamond.

"If you will be contrary!" said Nanny.

"No, no," said Diamond; "I only meant that was the very pane I
should have expected her to shine through."

"Oh, very well!" returned Nanny.

What Diamond meant, I do not pretend to say. He had curious notions
about things.

"And now," said Nanny, "I didn't know what to do, for the dog kept
barking at the door, and I couldn't get out. But the moon was so
beautiful that I couldn't keep from looking at it through the red pane.
And as I looked it got larger and larger till it filled the whole
pane and outgrew it, so that I could see it through the other panes;
and it grew till it filled them too and the whole window, so that
the summer-house was nearly as bright as day.

"The dog stopped barking, and I heard a gentle tapping at the door,
like the wind blowing a little branch against it."

"Just like her," said Diamond, who thought everything strange
and beautiful must be done by North Wind.

"So I turned from the window and opened the door; and what do you
think I saw?"

"A beautiful lady," said Diamond.

"No--the moon itself, as big as a little house, and as round
as a ball, shining like yellow silver. It stood on the grass--
down on the very grass: I could see nothing else for the
brightness of it: And as I stared and wondered, a door opened
in the side of it, near the ground, and a curious little old man,
with a crooked thing over his shoulder, looked out, and said:
'Come along, Nanny; my lady wants you. We're come to fetch you."
I wasn't a bit frightened. I went up to the beautiful bright thing,
and the old man held down his hand, and I took hold of it,
and gave a jump, and he gave me a lift, and I was inside the moon.
And what do you think it was like? It was such a pretty little house,
with blue windows and white curtains! At one of the windows sat
a beautiful lady, with her head leaning on her hand, looking out.
She seemed rather sad, and I was sorry for her, and stood staring
at her.

"`You didn't think I had such a beautiful mistress as that!'
said the queer little man. `No, indeed!' I answered: `who would have
thought it?' `Ah! who indeed? But you see you don't know everything.'
The little man closed the door, and began to pull at a rope which hung
behind it with a weight at the end. After he had pulled a while,
he said--`There, that will do; we're all right now.' Then he took
me by the hand and opened a little trap in the floor, and led me
down two or three steps, and I saw like a great hole below me.
`Don't be frightened,' said the tittle man. `It's not a hole.
It's only a window. Put your face down and look through.' I did as he
told me, and there was the garden and the summer-house, far away,
lying at the bottom of the moonlight. `There!' said the little man;
`we've brought you off! Do you see the little dog barking at us
down there in the garden?' I told him I couldn't see anything
so far. `Can you see anything so small and so far off?' I said.
`Bless you, child!' said the little man; `I could pick up a needle
out of the grass if I had only a long enough arm. There's one
lying by the door of the summer-house now.' I looked at his eyes.
They were very small, but so bright that I think he saw by the light
that went out of them. Then he took me up, and up again by a little
stair in a corner of the room, and through another trapdoor,
and there was one great round window above us, and I saw the blue
sky and the clouds, and such lots of stars, all so big and shining
as hard as ever they could!"

"The little girl-angels had been polishing them," said Diamond.

"What nonsense you do talk!" said Nanny.

"But my nonsense is just as good as yours, Nanny. When you have done,
I'll tell you my dream. The stars are in it--not the moon, though.
She was away somewhere. Perhaps she was gone to fetch you then.
I don't think that, though, for my dream was longer ago than yours.
She might have been to fetch some one else, though; for we can't
fancy it's only us that get such fine things done for them.
But do tell me what came next."

Perhaps one of my child-readers may remember whether the moon came
down to fetch him or her the same night that Diamond had his dream.
I cannot tell, of course. I know she did not come to fetch me,
though I did think I could make her follow me when I was a boy--
not a very tiny one either.

"The little man took me all round the house, and made me look
out of every window. Oh, it was beautiful! There we were,
all up in the air, in such a nice, clean little house! `Your work
will be to keep the windows bright,' said the little man.
`You won't find it very difficult, for there ain't much dust up here.
Only, the frost settles on them sometimes, and the drops of rain
leave marks on them.' `I can easily clean them inside,' I said;
`but how am I to get the frost and rain off the outside of them?'
`Oh!' he said, `it's quite easy. There are ladders all about.
You've only got to go out at the door, and climb about. There are
a great many windows you haven't seen yet, and some of them look into
places you don't know anything about. I used to clean them myself,
but I'm getting rather old, you see. Ain't I now?' `I can't tell,'
I answered. `You see I never saw you when you were younger.'
`Never saw the man in the moon?' said he. `Not very near,'
I answered, `not to tell how young or how old he looked. I have
seen the bundle of sticks on his back.' For Jim had pointed that
out to me. Jim was very fond of looking at the man in the moon.
Poor Jim! I wonder he hasn't been to see me. I'm afraid he's
ill too."

"I'll try to find out," said Diamond, "and let you know."

"Thank you," said Nanny. "You and Jim ought to be friends."

"But what did the man in the moon say, when you told him you had
seen him with the bundle of sticks on his back?"

"He laughed. But I thought he looked offended too. His little
nose turned up sharper, and he drew the corners of his mouth down
from the tips of his ears into his neck. But he didn't look cross,
you know."

"Didn't he say anything?"

"Oh, yes! He said: `That's all nonsense. What you saw was my bundle
of dusters. I was going to clean the windows. It takes a good many,
you know. Really, what they do say of their superiors down there!'
`It's only because they don't know better,' I ventured to say.
`Of course, of course,' said the little man. `Nobody ever does
know better. Well, I forgive them, and that sets it all right,
I hope.' `It's very good of you,' I said. `No!' said he, `it's not
in the least good of me. I couldn't be comfortable otherwise.'
After this he said nothing for a while, and I laid myself on the floor
of his garret, and stared up and around at the great blue beautifulness.
I had forgotten him almost, when at last he said: `Ain't you done yet?'
`Done what?' I asked. `Done saying your prayers,' says he.
'I wasn't saying my prayers,' I answered. `Oh, yes, you were,'
said he, `though you didn't know it! And now I must show you
something else.'

"He took my hand and led me down the stair again, and through
a narrow passage, and through another, and another, and another.
I don't know how there could be room for so many passages in such
a little house. The heart of it must be ever so much farther from
the sides than they are from each other. How could it have an
inside that was so independent of its outside? There's the point.
It was funny--wasn't it, Diamond?"

"No," said Diamond. He was going to say that that was very much
the sort of thing at the back of the north wind; but he checked
himself and only added, "All right. I don't see it. I don't see
why the inside should depend on the outside. It ain't so with
the crabs. They creep out of their outsides and make new ones.
Mr. Raymond told me so."

"I don't see what that has got to do with it," said Nanny.

"Then go on with your story, please," said Diamond. "What did
you come to, after going through all those winding passages into
the heart of the moon?"

"I didn't say they were winding passages. I said they were long
and narrow. They didn't wind. They went by corners."

"That's worth knowing," remarked Diamond. "For who knows how soon
he may have to go there? But the main thing is, what did you come
to at last?"

"We came to a small box against the wall of a tiny room.
The little man told me to put my ear against it. I did so,
and heard a noise something like the purring of a cat, only not
so loud, and much sweeter. `What is it?' I asked. `Don't you
know the sound?' returned the little man. `No,' I answered.
`Don't you know the sound of bees?' he said. I had never heard bees,
and could not know the sound of them. `Those are my lady's bees,'
he went on. I had heard that bees gather honey from the flowers.
`But where are the flowers for them?' I asked. `My lady's bees
gather their honey from the sun and the stars,' said the little man.
`Do let me see them,' I said. `No. I daren't do that,' he answered.
`I have no business with them. I don't understand them.
Besides, they are so bright that if one were to fly into your eye,
it would blind you altogether.' `Then you have seen them?'
`Oh, yes! Once or twice, I think. But I don't quite know:
they are so very bright--like buttons of lightning. Now I've
showed you all I can to-night, and we'll go back to the room.'
I followed him, and he made me sit down under a lamp that hung from
the roof, and gave me some bread and honey.

"The lady had never moved. She sat with her forehead leaning
on her hand, gazing out of the little window, hung like the rest
with white cloudy curtains. From where I was sitting I looked out
of it too, but I could see nothing. Her face was very beautiful,
and very white, and very still, and her hand was as white as
the forehead that leaned on it. I did not see her whole face--
only the side of it, for she never moved to turn it full upon me,
or even to look at me.

"How long I sat after I had eaten my bread and honey, I don't know.
The little man was busy about the room, pulling a string here,
and a string there, but chiefly the string at the back of the door.
I was thinking with some uneasiness that he would soon be wanting
me to go out and clean the windows, and I didn't fancy the job.
At last he came up to me with a great armful of dusters. `It's time
you set about the windows,' he said; `for there's rain coming,
and if they're quite clean before, then the rain can't spoil them.'
I got up at once. `You needn't be afraid,' he said. `You won't
tumble off. Only you must be careful. Always hold on with one hand
while you rub with the other.' As he spoke, he opened the door.
I started back in a terrible fright, for there was nothing but blue
air to be seen under me, like a great water without a bottom at all.
But what must be must, and to live up here was so much nicer
than down in the mud with holes in my shoes, that I never thought
of not doing as I was told. The little man showed me how and
where to lay hold while I put my foot round the edge of the door
on to the first round of a ladder. `Once you're up,' he said,
`you'll see how you have to go well enough.' I did as he told me,
and crept out very carefully. Then the little man handed me the
bundle of dusters, saying, `I always carry them on my reaping hook,
but I don't think you could manage it properly. You shall have
it if you like.' I wouldn't take it, however, for it looked
dangerous.

"I did the best I could with the dusters, and crawled up to the
top of the moon. But what a grand sight it was! The stars
were all over my head, so bright and so near that I could almost
have laid hold of them. The round ball to which I clung went
bobbing and floating away through the dark blue above and below
and on every side. It was so beautiful that all fear left me,
and I set to work diligently. I cleaned window after window.
At length I came to a very little one, in at which I peeped.
There was the room with the box of bees in it! I laid my ear
to the window, and heard the musical hum quite distinctly.
A great longing to see them came upon me, and I opened the window
and crept in. The little box had a door like a closet. I opened it--
the tiniest crack--when out came the light with such a sting that I
closed it again in terror--not, however, before three bees had shot
out into the room, where they darted about like flashes of lightning.
Terribly frightened, I tried to get out of the window again, but I
could not: there was no way to the outside of the moon but through
the door; and that was in the room where the lady sat. No sooner
had I reached the room, than the three bees, which had followed me,
flew at once to the lady, and settled upon her hair. Then first
I saw her move. She started, put up her hand, and caught them;
then rose and, having held them into the flame of the lamp one after
the other, turned to me. Her face was not so sad now as stern.
It frightened me much. `Nanny, you have got me into trouble,'
she said. `You have been letting out my bees, which it is all I can
do to manage. You have forced me to burn them. It is a great loss,
and there will be a storm.' As she spoke, the clouds had gathered
all about us. I could see them come crowding up white about
the windows. `I am sorry to find,' said the lady, `that you are
not to be trusted. You must go home again--you won't do for us.'
Then came a great clap of thunder, and the moon rocked and swayed.
All grew dark about me, and I fell on the floor and lay half-stunned.
I could hear everything but could see nothing. `Shall I throw her
out of the door, my lady?' said the little man. `No,' she answered;
`she's not quite bad enough for that. I don't think there's much
harm in her; only she'll never do for us. She would make dreadful
mischief up here. She's only fit for the mud. It's a great pity.
I am sorry for her. Just take that ring off her finger. I am sadly
afraid she has stolen it.' The little man caught hold of my hand,
and I felt him tugging at the ring. I tried to speak what was
true about it, but, after a terrible effort, only gave a groan.
Other things began to come into my head. Somebody else had a hold
of me. The little man wasn't there. I opened my eyes at last,
and saw the nurse. I had cried out in my sleep, and she had come
and waked me. But, Diamond, for all it was only a dream, I cannot
help being ashamed of myself yet for opening the lady's box of
bees."

"You woudn't do it again--would you--if she were to take you back?"
said Diamond.

"No. I don't think anything would ever make me do it again.
But where's the good? I shall never have the chance."

"I don't know that," said Diamond.

"You silly baby! It was only a dream," said Nanny.

"I know that, Nanny, dear. But how can you tell you mayn't dream
it again?"

"That's not a bit likely."

"I don't know that," said Diamond.

"You're always saying that," said Nanny. "I don't like it."

"Then I won't say it again--if I don't forget." said Diamond.
"But it was such a beautiful dream!--wasn't it, Nanny? What a pity
you opened that door and let the bees out! You might have had
such a long dream, and such nice talks with the moon-lady. Do try
to go again, Nanny. I do so want to hear more."

But now the nurse came and told him it was time to go; and Diamond went,
saying to himself, "I can't help thinking that North Wind had something
to do with that dream. It would be tiresome to lie there all day
and all night too--without dreaming. Perhaps if she hadn't done that,
the moon might have carried her to the back of the north wind--
who knows?"

CHAPTER XXXI

THE NORTH WIND DOTH BLOW

IT WAS a great delight to Diamond when at length Nanny was well
enough to leave the hospital and go home to their house. She was not
very strong yet, but Diamond's mother was very considerate of her,
and took care that she should have nothing to do she was not quite
fit for. If Nanny had been taken straight from the street, it is very
probable she would not have been so pleasant in a decent household,
or so easy to teach; but after the refining influences of her illness
and the kind treatment she had had in the hospital, she moved about
the house just like some rather sad pleasure haunting the mind.
As she got better, and the colour came back to her cheeks,
her step grew lighter and quicker, her smile shone out more readily,
and it became certain that she would soon be a treasure of help.
It was great fun to see Diamond teaching her how to hold the baby,
and wash and dress him, and often they laughed together over
her awkwardness. But she had not many such lessons before she was
able to perform those duties quite as well as Diamond himself.

Things however did not go well with Joseph from the very arrival of Ruby.
It almost seemed as if the red beast had brought ill luck with him.
The fares were fewer, and the pay less. Ruby's services did indeed
make the week's income at first a little beyond what it used to be,
but then there were two more to feed. After the first month he fell lame,
and for the whole of the next Joseph dared not attempt to work him.
I cannot say that he never grumbled, for his own health was far
from what it had been; but I can say that he tried to do his best.
During all that month, they lived on very short commons indeed,
seldom tasting meat except on Sundays, and poor old Diamond,
who worked hardest of all, not even then--so that at the end of it
he was as thin as a clothes-horse, while Ruby was as plump and sleek
as a bishop's cob.

Nor was it much better after Ruby was able to work again, for it
was a season of great depression in business, and that is very soon
felt amongst the cabmen. City men look more after their shillings,
and their wives and daughters have less to spend. It was besides
a wet autumn, and bread rose greatly in price. When I add to this
that Diamond's mother was but poorly, for a new baby was coming,
you will see that these were not very jolly times for our friends
in the mews.

Notwithstanding the depressing influences around him, Joseph was able
to keep a little hope alive in his heart; and when he came home
at night, would get Diamond to read to him, and would also make
Nanny produce her book that he might see how she was getting on.
For Diamond had taken her education in hand, and as she was a
clever child, she was very soon able to put letters and words together.

Thus the three months passed away, but Mr. Raymond did not return.
Joseph had been looking anxiously for him, chiefly with the desire
of getting rid of Ruby--not that he was absolutely of no use to him,
but that he was a constant weight upon his mind. Indeed, as far
as provision went, he was rather worse off with Ruby and Nanny than
he had been before, but on the other hand, Nanny was a great help
in the house, and it was a comfort to him to think that when the new
baby did come, Nanny would be with his wife.

Of God's gifts a baby is of the greatest; therefore it is no
wonder that when this one came, she was as heartily welcomed
by the little household as if she had brought plenty with her.
Of course she made a great difference in the work to be done--
far more difference than her size warranted, but Nanny was no end
of help, and Diamond was as much of a sunbeam as ever, and began
to sing to the new baby the first moment he got her in his arms.
But he did not sing the same songs to her that he had sung to
his brother, for, he said, she was a new baby and must have new songs;
and besides, she was a sister-baby and not a brother-baby, and of
course would not like the same kind of songs. Where the difference
in his songs lay, however, I do not pretend to be able to point out.
One thing I am sure of, that they not only had no small share
in the education of the little girl, but helped the whole family
a great deal more than they were aware.

How they managed to get through the long dreary expensive winter,
I can hardly say. Sometimes things were better, sometimes worse.
But at last the spring came, and the winter was over and gone,
and that was much. Still, Mr. Raymond did not return, and although
the mother would have been able to manage without Nanny now,
they could not look for a place for her so long as they had Ruby;
and they were not altogether sorry for this. One week at last was
worse than they had yet had. They were almost without bread before
it was over. But the sadder he saw his father and mother looking,
the more Diamond set himself to sing to the two babies.

One thing which had increased their expenses was that they had been
forced to hire another little room for Nanny. When the second
baby came, Diamond gave up his room that Nanny might be at hand
to help his mother, and went to hers, which, although a fine place
to what she had been accustomed to, was not very nice in his eyes.
He did not mind the change though, for was not his mother the more
comfortable for it? And was not Nanny more comfortable too?
And indeed was not Diamond himself more comfortable that other people
were more comfortable? And if there was more comfort every way,
the change was a happy one.

CHAPTER XXXII

DIAMOND AND RUBY

IT WAS Friday night, and Diamond, like the rest of the household,
had had very little to eat that day. The mother would always pay
the week's rent before she laid out anything even on food. His father
had been very gloomy--so gloomy that he had actually been cross
to his wife. It is a strange thing how pain of seeing the suffering
of those we love will sometimes make us add to their suffering
by being cross with them. This comes of not having faith enough
in God, and shows how necessary this faith is, for when we lose it,
we lose even the kindness which alone can soothe the suffering.
Diamond in consequence had gone to bed very quiet and thoughtful--
a little troubled indeed.

It had been a very stormy winter. and even now that the spring
had come, the north wind often blew. When Diamond went to his bed,
which was in a tiny room in the roof, he heard it like the
sea moaning; and when he fell asleep he still heard the moaning.
All at once he said to himself, "Am I awake, or am I asleep?"
But he had no time to answer the question, for there was North
Wind calling him. His heart beat very fast, it was such a long
time since he had heard that voice. He jumped out of bed,
and looked everywhere, but could not see her. "Diamond, come here,"
she said again and again; but where the here was he could not tell.
To be sure the room was all but quite dark, and she might be close
beside him.

"Dear North Wind," said Diamond, "I want so much to go to you,
but I can't tell where."

"Come here, Diamond," was all her answer.

Diamond opened the door, and went out of the room, and down the stair
and into the yard. His little heart was in a flutter, for he had
long given up all thought of seeing her again. Neither now was he
to see her. When he got out, a great puff of wind came against him,
and in obedience to it he turned his back, and went as it blew.
It blew him right up to the stable-door, and went on blowing.

"She wants me to go into the stable," said Diamond to himself.
"but the door is locked."

He knew where the key was, in a certain hole in the wall--far too
high for him to get at. He ran to the place, however: just as he
reached it there came a wild blast, and down fell the key clanging
on the stones at his feet. He picked it up, and ran back and opened
the stable-door, and went in. And what do you think he saw?

A little light came through the dusty window from a gas-lamp,
sufficient to show him Diamond and Ruby with their two heads up,
looking at each other across the partition of their stalls. The light
showed the white mark on Diamond's forehead, but Ruby's eye shone
so bright, that he thought more light came out of it than went in.
This is what he saw.

But what do you think he heard?

He heard the two horses talking to each other--in a strange language,
which yet, somehow or other, he could understand, and turn over in
his mind in English. The first words he heard were from Diamond,
who apparently had been already quarrelling with Ruby.

"Look how fat you are Ruby!" said old Diamond. "You are so plump
and your skin shines so, you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"There's no harm in being fat," said Ruby in a deprecating tone.
"No, nor in being sleek. I may as well shine as not."

"No harm?" retorted Diamond. "Is it no harm to go eating up all
poor master's oats, and taking up so much of his time grooming you,
when you only work six hours--no, not six hours a day, and, as I hear,
get along no faster than a big dray-horse with two tons behind him?--
So they tell me."

"Your master's not mine," said Ruby. "I must attend to my own
master's interests, and eat all that is given me, and be sleek
and fat as I can, and go no faster than I need."

"Now really if the rest of the horses weren't all asleep, poor things--
they work till they're tired--I do believe they would get up and kick
you out of the stable. You make me ashamed of being a horse.
You dare to say my master ain't your master! That's your gratitude
for the way he feeds you and spares you! Pray where would your
carcass be if it weren't for him?"

"He doesn't do it for my sake. If I were his own horse, he would
work me as hard as he does you."

"And I'm proud to be so worked. I wouldn't be as fat as you--
not for all you're worth. You're a disgrace to the stable. Look at
the horse next you. He's something like a horse--all skin and bone.
And his master ain't over kind to him either. He put a stinging lash
on his whip last week. But that old horse knows he's got the wife
and children to keep--as well as his drunken master--and he works
like a horse. I daresay he grudges his master the beer he drinks,
but I don't believe he grudges anything else."

"Well, I don't grudge yours what he gets by me," said Ruby.

"Gets!" retorted Diamond. "What he gets isn't worth grudging.
It comes to next to nothing--what with your fat and shine.

"Well, at least you ought to be thankful you're the better for it.
You get a two hours' rest a day out of it."

"I thank my master for that--not you, you lazy fellow! You go
along like a buttock of beef upon castors--you do."

"Ain't you afraid I'll kick, if you go on like that, Diamond?"

"Kick! You couldn't kick if you tried. You might heave your rump
up half a foot, but for lashing out--oho! If you did, you'd be
down on your belly before you could get your legs under you again.
It's my belief, once out, they'd stick out for ever. Talk of kicking!
Why don't you put one foot before the other now and then when you're
in the cab? The abuse master gets for your sake is quite shameful.
No decent horse would bring it on him. Depend upon it, Ruby, no cabman
likes to be abused any more than his fare. But his fares, at least
when you are between the shafts, are very much to be excused.
Indeed they are."

"Well, you see, Diamond, I don't want to go lame again."

"I don't believe you were so very lame after all--there!"

"Oh, but I was."

"Then I believe it was all your own fault. I'm not lame.
I never was lame in all my life. You don't take care of your legs.
You never lay them down at night. There you are with your huge carcass
crushing down your poor legs all night long. You don't even care
for your own legs--so long as you can eat, eat, and sleep, sleep.
You a horse indeed!"

"But I tell you I was lame."

"I'm not denying there was a puffy look about your off-pastern.
But my belief is, it wasn't even grease--it was fat."

"I tell you I put my foot on one of those horrid stones they make
the roads with, and it gave my ankle such a twist."

"Ankle indeed! Why should you ape your betters? Horses ain't
got any ankles: they're only pasterns. And so long as you
don't lift your feet better, but fall asleep between every step,
you'll run a good chance of laming all your ankles as you call them,
one after another. It's not your lively horse that comes to grief
in that way. I tell you I believe it wasn't much, and if it was,
it was your own fault. There! I've done. I'm going to sleep.
I'll try to think as well of you as I can. If you would but step out
a bit and run off a little of your fat!" Here Diamond began to double
up his knees; but Ruby spoke again, and, as young Diamond thought,
in a rather different tone.

"I say, Diamond, I can't bear to have an honest old horse like you
think of me like that. I will tell you the truth: it was my own
fault that I fell lame."

"I told you so," returned the other, tumbling against the partition
as he rolled over on his side to give his legs every possible
privilege in their narrow circumstances.

"I meant to do it, Diamond."

At the words, the old horse arose with a scramble like thunder,
shot his angry head and glaring eye over into Ruby's stall,
and said--

"Keep out of my way, you unworthy wretch, or I'll bite you.
You a horse! Why did you do that?"

"Because I wanted to grow fat."

"You grease-tub! Oh! my teeth and tail! I thought you were a humbug!
Why did you want to get fat? There's no truth to be got out of you
but by cross-questioning. You ain't fit to be a horse."

"Because once I am fat, my nature is to keep fat for a long time;
and I didn't know when master might come home and want to see me."

"You conceited, good-for-nothing brute! You're only fit for the
knacker's yard. You wanted to look handsome, did you? Hold your tongue,
or I'll break my halter and be at you--with your handsome fat!"

"Never mind, Diamond. You're a good horse. You can't hurt me."

"Can't hurt you! Just let me once try."

"No, you can't."

"Why then?"

"Because I'm an angel."

"What's that?"

"Of course you don't know."

"Indeed I don't."

"I know you don't. An ignorant, rude old human horse, like you,
couldn't know it. But there's young Diamond listening to all
we're saying; and he knows well enough there are horses in heaven
for angels to ride upon, as well as other animals, lions and eagles
and bulls, in more important situations. The horses the angels ride,
must be angel-horses, else the angels couldn't ride upon them.
Well, I'm one of them."

"You ain't."

"Did you ever know a horse tell a lie?"

"Never before. But you've confessed to shamming lame."

"Nothing of the sort. It was necessary I should grow fat,
and necessary that good Joseph, your master, should grow lean.
I could have pretended to be lame, but that no horse, least of all an
angel-horse would do. So I must be lame, and so I sprained my ankle--
for the angel-horses have ankles--they don't talk horse-slang up there--
and it hurt me very much, I assure you, Diamond, though you mayn't
be good enough to be able to believe it."

Old Diamond made no reply. He had lain down again, and a sleepy snort,
very like a snore, revealed that, if he was not already asleep,
he was past understanding a word that Ruby was saying. When young
Diamond found this, he thought he might venture to take up the dropt
shuttlecock of the conversation.

"I'm good enough to believe it, Ruby," he said.

But Ruby never turned his head, or took any notice of him.
I suppose he did not understand more of English than just what
the coachman and stableman were in the habit of addressing
him with. Finding, however, that his companion made no reply,
he shot his head over the partition and looking down at him said--

"You just wait till to-morrow, and you'll see whether I'm speaking
the truth or not.--I declare the old horse is fast asleep!--
Diamond!--No I won't."

Ruby turned away, and began pulling at his hayrack in silence.

Diamond gave a shiver, and looking round saw that the door of the
stable was open. He began to feel as if he had been dreaming,
and after a glance about the stable to see if North Wind was
anywhere visible, he thought he had better go back to bed.

CHAPTER XXXIII

THE PROSPECT BRIGHTENS

THE next morning, Diamond's mother said to his father, "I'm not
quite comfortable about that child again."

"Which child, Martha?" asked Joseph. "You've got a choice now."

"Well, Diamond I mean. I'm afraid he's getting into his queer
ways again. He's been at his old trick of walking in his sleep.
I saw him run up the stair in the middle of the night."

"Didn't you go after him, wife?"

"Of course I did--and found him fast asleep in his bed. It's because
he's had so little meat for the last six weeks, I'm afraid."

"It may be that. I'm very sorry. But if it don't please God
to send us enough, what am I to do, wife?"

"You can't help it, I know, my dear good man," returned Martha.
"And after all I don't know. I don't see why he shouldn't get on
as well as the rest of us. There I'm nursing baby all this time,
and I get along pretty well. I'm sure, to hear the little man singing,
you wouldn't think there was much amiss with him."

For at that moment Diamond was singing like a lark in the clouds.
He had the new baby in his arms, while his mother was dressing herself.
Joseph was sitting at his breakfast--a little weak tea, dry bread,
and very dubious butter--which Nanny had set for him, and which he
was enjoying because he was hungry. He had groomed both horses,
and had got old Diamond harnessed ready to put to.

"Think of a fat angel, Dulcimer!" said Diamond.

The baby had not been christened yet, but Diamond, in reading
his Bible, had come upon the word dulcimer, and thought it so pretty
that ever after he called his sister Dulcimer!

"Think of a red, fat angel, Dulcimer!" he repeated; "for Ruby's
an angel of a horse, Dulcimer. He sprained his ankle and got fat
on purpose."

"What purpose, Diamond?" asked his father.

"Ah! that I can't tell. I suppose to look handsome when his
master comes," answered Diamond.--"What do you think, Dulcimer?
It must be for some good, for Ruby's an angel."

"I wish I were rid of him, anyhow," said his father; "for he weighs
heavy on my mind."

"No wonder, father: he's so fat," said Diamond. "But you needn't
be afraid, for everybody says he's in better condition than when you
had him."

"Yes, but he may be as thin as a tin horse before his owner comes.
It was too bad to leave him on my hands this way."

"Perhaps he couldn't help it," suggested Diamond. "I daresay he
has some good reason for it."

"So I should have said," returned his father, "if he had not driven
such a hard bargain with me at first."

"But we don't know what may come of it yet, husband," said his wife.
"Mr. Raymond may give a little to boot, seeing you've had more of
the bargain than you wanted or reckoned upon."

"I'm afraid not: he's a hard man," said Joseph, as he rose and went
to get his cab out.

Diamond resumed his singing. For some time he carolled snatches
of everything or anything; but at last it settled down into something
like what follows. I cannot tell where or how he got it.

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs' wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.

"You never made that song, Diamond," said his mother.

"No, mother. I wish I had. No, I don't. That would be to take it
from somebody else. But it's mine for all that."

"What makes it yours?"

"I love it so."

"Does loving a thing make it yours?"

"I think so, mother--at least more than anything else can. If I didn't
love baby (which couldn't be, you know) she wouldn't be mine a bit.
But I do love baby, and baby is my very own Dulcimer."

"The baby's mine, Diamond."

"That makes her the more mine, mother."

"How do you make that out?"

"Because you're mine, mother."

"Is that because you love me?"

"Yes, just because. Love makes the only myness," said Diamond.

When his father came home to have his dinner, and change Diamond
for Ruby, they saw him look very sad, and he told them he had not
had a fare worth mentioning the whole morning.

"We shall all have to go to the workhouse, wife," he said.

"It would be better to go to the back of the north wind,"
said Diamond, dreamily, not intending to say it aloud.

"So
it would," answered his father. "But how are we to get there, Diamond?"

"We must wait till we're taken," returned Diamond.

Before his father could speak again, a knock came to the door,
and in walked Mr. Raymond with a smile on his face. Joseph got up
and received him respectfully, but not very cordially. Martha set
a chair for him, but he would not sit down.

"You are not very glad to see me," he said to Joseph. "You don't
want to part with the old horse."

"Indeed, sir, you are mistaken there. What with anxiety about him,
and bad luck, I've wished I were rid of him a thousand times.
It was only to be for three months, and here it's eight or nine."

"I'm sorry to hear such a statement," said Mr. Raymond. "Hasn't he
been of service to you?"

"Not much, not with his lameness"

"Ah!" said Mr. Raymond, hastily--"you've been laming him--have you?
That accounts for it. I see, I see."

"It wasn't my fault, and he's all right now. I don't know
how it happened, but"

"He did it on purpose," said Diamond. "He put his foot on a stone
just to twist his ankle."

"How do you know that, Diamond?" said his father, turning to him.
"I never said so, for I could not think how it came."

"I heard it--in the stable," answered Diamond.

"Let's have a look at him," said Mr. Raymond.

"If you'll step into the yard," said Joseph, "I'll bring him out."

They went, and Joseph, having first taken off his harness,
walked Ruby into the middle of the yard.

"Why," said Mr. Raymond, "you've not been using him well."

"I don't know what you mean by that, sir. I didn't expect to hear
that from you. He's sound in wind and limb--as sound as a barrel."

"And as big, you might add. Why, he's as fat as a pig! You don't
call that good usage!"

Joseph was too angry to make any answer.

"You've not worked him enough, I say. That's not making good use
of him. That's not doing as you'd be done by."

"I shouldn't be sorry if I was served the same, sir."

"He's too fat, I say."

"There was a whole month I couldn't work him at all, and he did
nothing but eat his head off. He's an awful eater. I've taken
the best part of six hours a day out of him since, but I'm always
afraid of his coming to grief again, and so I couldn't make the most
even of that. I declare to you, sir, when he's between the shafts,
I sit on the box as miserable as if I'd stolen him. He looks all
the time as if he was a bottling up of complaints to make of me
the minute he set eyes on you again. There! look at him now,
squinting round at me with one eye! I declare to you, on my word,
I haven't laid the whip on him more than three times."

"I'm glad to hear it. He never did want the whip."

"I didn't say that, sir. If ever a horse wanted the whip, he do.
He's brought me to beggary almost with his snail's pace. I'm very
glad you've come to rid me of him."

"I don't know that," said Mr. Raymond. "Suppose I were to ask you
to buy him of me--cheap."

"I wouldn't have him in a present, sir. I don't like him.
And I wouldn't drive a horse that I didn't like--no, not for gold.
It can't come to good where there's no love between 'em."

"Just bring out your own horse, and let me see what sort of a pair
they'd make."

Joseph laughed rather bitterly as he went to fetch Diamond.

When the two were placed side by side, Mr. Raymond could
hardly keep his countenance, but from a mingling of feelings.
Beside the great, red, round barrel, Ruby, all body and no legs,
Diamond looked like a clothes-horse with a skin thrown over it.
There was hardly a spot of him where you could not descry some
sign of a bone underneath. Gaunt and grim and weary he stood,
kissing his master, and heeding no one else.

"You haven't been using him well," said Mr. Raymond.

"I must say," returned Joseph, throwing an arm round his horse's neck,
"that the remark had better have been spared, sir. The horse
is worth three of the other now."

"I don't think so. I think they make a very nice pair.
If the one's too fat, the other's too lean--so that's all right.
And if you won't buy my Ruby, I must buy your Diamond."

"Thank you, sir," said Joseph, in a tone implying anything but thanks.

"You don't seem to like the proposal," said Mr. Raymond.

"I don't," returned Joseph. "I wouldn't part with my old Diamond
for his skin as full of nuggets as it is of bones."

"Who said anything about parting with him?"

"You did now, sir."

"No; I didn't. I only spoke of buying him to make a pair with Ruby.
We could pare Ruby and patch Diamond a bit. And for height, they are
as near a match as I care about. Of course you would be the coachman--
if only you would consent to be reconciled to Ruby."

Joseph stood bewildered, unable to answer.

"I've bought a small place in Kent," continued Mr. Raymond, "and I
must have a pair to my carriage, for the roads are hilly thereabouts.
I don't want to make a show with a pair of high-steppers. I think
these will just do. Suppose, for a week or two, you set yourself
to take Ruby down and bring Diamond up. If we could only lay a pipe
from Ruby's sides into Diamond's, it would be the work of a moment.
But I fear that wouldn't answer."

A strong inclination to laugh intruded upon Joseph's inclination
to cry, and made speech still harder than before.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said at length. "I've been so miserable,
and for so long, that I never thought you was only a chaffing of me
when you said I hadn't used the horses well. I did grumble at you,
sir, many's the time in my trouble; but whenever I said anything,
my little Diamond would look at me with a smile, as much as to say:
"I know him better than you, father;" and upon my word, I always
thought the boy must be right."

"Will you sell me old Diamond, then?"

"I will, sir, on one condition--that if ever you want to part
with him or me, you give me the option of buying him. I could
not part with him, sir. As to who calls him his, that's nothing;
for, as Diamond says, it's only loving a thing that can make it yours--
and I do love old Diamond, sir, dearly."

"Well, there's a cheque for twenty pounds, which I wrote to offer
you for him, in case I should find you had done the handsome thing
by Ruby. Will that be enough?"

"It's too much, sir. His body ain't worth it--shoes and all.
It's only his heart, sir--that's worth millions--but his heart'll be
mine all the same--so it's too much, sir."

"I don't think so. It won't be, at least, by the time we've got him
fed up again. You take it and welcome. Just go on with your cabbing
for another month, only take it out of Ruby and let Diamond rest;
and by that time I shall be ready for you to go down into the country."

"Thank you, sir. thank you. Diamond set you down for a friend,
sir, the moment he saw you. I do believe that child of mine
knows more than other people."

"I think so, too," said Mr. Raymond as he walked away.

He had meant to test Joseph when he made the bargain about Ruby,
but had no intention of so greatly prolonging the trial. He had been
taken ill in Switzerland, and had been quite unable to return sooner.
He went away now highly gratified at finding that he had stood the test,
and was a true man.

Joseph rushed in to his wife who had been standing at the window
anxiously waiting the result of the long colloquy. When she
heard that the horses were to go together in double harness,
she burst forth into an immoderate fit of laughter. Diamond came
up with the baby in his arms and made big anxious eyes at her, saying--

"What is the matter with you, mother dear? Do cry a little.
It will do you good. When father takes ever so small a drop of spirits,
he puts water to it."

"You silly darling!" said his mother; "how could I but laugh at
the notion of that great fat Ruby going side by side with our poor
old Diamond?"

"But why not, mother? With a month's oats, and nothing to do,
Diamond'll be nearer Ruby's size than you will father's. I think
it's very good for different sorts to go together. Now Ruby will
have a chance of teaching Diamond better manners."

"How dare you say such a thing, Diamond?" said his father, angrily.
"To compare the two for manners, there's no comparison possible.
Our Diamond's a gentleman."

"I don't mean to say he isn't, father; for I daresay some
gentlemen judge their neighbours unjustly. That's all I mean.
Diamond shouldn't have thought such bad things of Ruby. He didn't
try to make the best of him."

"How do you know that, pray?"

"I heard them talking about it one night."

"Who?"

"Why Diamond and Ruby. Ruby's an angel."

Joseph stared and said no more. For all his new gladness,
he was very gloomy as he re-harnessed the angel, for he thought
his darling Diamond was going out of his mind.

He could not help thinking rather differently, however, when he found
the change that had come over Ruby. Considering his fat, he exerted
himself amazingly, and got over the ground with incredible speed.
So willing, even anxious, was he to go now, that Joseph had to hold
him quite tight.

Then as he laughed at his own fancies, a new fear came upon him lest
the horse should break his wind, and Mr. Raymond have good cause
to think he had not been using him well. He might even suppose
that he had taken advantage of his new instructions, to let out
upon the horse some of his pent-up dislike; whereas in truth,
it had so utterly vanished that he felt as if Ruby, too, had been
his friend all the time.

CHAPTER XXXIV

IN THE COUNTRY

BEFORE the end of the month, Ruby had got respectably thin,
and Diamond respectably stout. They really began to look fit
for double harness.

Joseph and his wife got their affairs in order, and everything ready
for migrating at the shortest notice; and they felt so peaceful
and happy that they judged all the trouble they had gone through
well worth enduring. As for Nanny, she had been so happy ever
since she left the hospital, that she expected nothing better,
and saw nothing attractive in the notion of the country.
At the same time, she had not the least idea of what the word
country meant, for she had never seen anything about her but streets
and gas-lamps. Besides, she was more attached to Jim than to Diamond:
Jim was a reasonable being, Diamond in her eyes at best only an amiable,
over-grown baby, whom no amount of expostulation would ever bring
to talk sense, not to say think it. Now that she could manage
the baby as well as he, she judged herself altogether his superior.
Towards his father and mother, she was all they could wish.

Diamond had taken a great deal of pains and trouble to find Jim,
and had at last succeeded through the help of the tall policeman,
who was glad to renew his acquaintance with the strange child.
Jim had moved his quarters, and had not heard of Nanny's illness till
some time after she was taken to the hospital, where he was too shy
to go and inquire about her. But when at length she went to live
with Diamond's family, Jim was willing enough to go and see her.
It was after one of his visits, during which they had been talking
of her new prospects, that Nanny expressed to Diamond her opinion of
the country.

"There ain't nothing in it but the sun and moon, Diamond."

"There's trees and flowers," said Diamond.

"Well, they ain't no count," returned Nanny.

"Ain't they? They're so beautiful, they make you happy to look
at them."

"That's because you're such a silly."

Diamond smiled with a far-away look, as if he were gazing
through clouds of green leaves and the vision contented him.
But he was thinking with himself what more he could do for Nanny;
and that same evening he went to find Mr. Raymond, for he had heard
that he had returned to town.

"Ah! how do you do, Diamond?" said Mr. Raymond; "I am glad to see you."

And he was indeed, for he had grown very fond of him. His opinion
of him was very different from Nanny's.

"What do you want now, my child?" he asked.

"I'm always wanting something, sir," answered Diamond.

"Well, that's quite right, so long as what you want is right.
Everybody is always wanting something; only we don't mention it in
the right place often enough. What is it now?"

"There's a friend of Nanny's, a lame boy, called Jim."

"I've heard of him," said Mr. Raymond. "Well?"

"Nanny doesn't care much about going to the country, sir."

"Well, what has that to do with Jim?"

"You couldn't find a corner for Jim to work in--could you, sir?"

"I don't know that I couldn't. That is, if you can show good reason
for it."

"He's a good boy, sir."

"Well, so much the better for him."

"I know he can shine boots, sir."

"So much the better for us."

"You want your boots shined in the country--don't you, sir?"

"Yes, to be sure."

"It wouldn't be nice to walk over the flowers with dirty boots--
would it, sir?"

"No, indeed."

"They wouldn't like it--would they?"

"No, they wouldn't."

"Then Nanny would be better pleased to go, sir."

"If the flowers didn't like dirty boots to walk over them,
Nanny wouldn't mind going to the country? Is that it? I don't
quite see it."

"No, sir; I didn't mean that. I meant, if you would take Jim with
you to clean your boots, and do odd jobs, you know, sir, then Nanny
would like it better. She's so fond of Jim!"

"Now you come to the point, Diamond. I see what you mean, exactly.
I will turn it over in my mind. Could you bring Jim to see me?"

"I'll try, sir. But they don't mind me much. They think I'm silly,"
added Diamond, with one of his sweetest smiles.

What Mr. Raymond thought, I dare hardly attempt to put down here.
But one part of it was, that the highest wisdom must ever appear folly
to those who do not possess it.

"I think he would come though--after dark, you know," Diamond continued.
"He does well at shining boots. People's kind to lame boys,
you know, sir. But after dark, there ain't so much doing."

Diamond succeeded in bringing Jim to Mr. Raymond, and the consequence
was that he resolved to give the boy a chance. He provided
new clothes for both him and Nanny; and upon a certain day,
Joseph took his wife and three children, and Nanny and Jim,
by train to a certain station in the county of Kent, where they
found a cart waiting to carry them and their luggage to The Mound,
which was the name of Mr. Raymond's new residence. I will not
describe the varied feelings of the party as they went, or when
they arrived. All I will say is, that Diamond, who is my only care,
was full of quiet delight--a gladness too deep to talk about.

Joseph returned to town the same night, and the next morning drove
Ruby and Diamond down, with the carriage behind them, and Mr. Raymond
and a lady in the carriage. For Mr. Raymond was an old bachelor
no longer: he was bringing his wife with him to live at The Mound.
The moment Nanny saw her, she recognised her as the lady who had lent
her the ruby-ring. That ring had been given her by Mr. Raymond.

The weather was very hot, and the woods very shadowy. There were not
a great many wild flowers, for it was getting well towards autumn,
and the most of the wild flowers rise early to be before the leaves,
because if they did not, they would never get a glimpse of the sun
for them. So they have their fun over, and are ready to go to bed
again by the time the trees are dressed. But there was plenty of
the loveliest grass and daisies about the house, and Diamond's chief
pleasure seemed to be to lie amongst them, and breathe the pure air.
But all the time, he was dreaming of the country at the back of the
north wind, and trying to recall the songs the river used to sing.
For this was more like being at the back of the north wind than
anything he had known since he left it. Sometimes he would have
his little brother, sometimes his little sister, and sometimes
both of them in the grass with him, and then he felt just like
a cat with her first kittens, he said, only he couldn't purr--
all he could do was to sing.

These were very different times from those when he used to drive
the cab, but you must not suppose that Diamond was idle.
He did not do so much for his mother now, because Nanny occupied
his former place; but he helped his father still, both in the stable
and the harness-room, and generally went with him on the box that he
might learn to drive a pair, and be ready to open the carriage-door.
Mr. Raymond advised his father to give him plenty of liberty.

"A boy like that," he said, "ought not to be pushed."

Joseph assented heartily, smiling to himself at the idea of
pushing Diamond. After doing everything that fell to his share,
the boy had a wealth of time at his disposal. And a happy,
sometimes a merry time it was. Only for two months or so,
he neither saw nor heard anything of North Wind.

CHAPTER XXXV

I MAKE DIAMOND'S ACQUAINTANCE

MR. RAYMOND'S house was called The Mound, because it stood upon
a little steep knoll, so smooth and symmetrical that it showed
itself at once to be artificial. It had, beyond doubt, been built
for Queen Elizabeth as a hunting tower--a place, namely, from the
top of which you could see the country for miles on all sides,
and so be able to follow with your eyes the flying deer and the
pursuing hounds and horsemen. The mound had been cast up to give
a good basement-advantage over the neighbouring heights and woods.
There was a great quarry-hole not far off, brim-full of water,
from which, as the current legend stated, the materials forming
the heart of the mound--a kind of stone unfit for building--
had been dug. The house itself was of brick, and they said the
foundations were first laid in the natural level, and then the
stones and earth of the mound were heaped about and between them,
so that its great height should be well buttressed.

Joseph and his wife lived in a little cottage a short way from the house.
It was a real cottage, with a roof of thick thatch, which, in June
and July, the wind sprinkled with the red and white petals it shook
from the loose topmost sprays of the rose-trees climbing the walls.
At first Diamond had a nest under this thatch--a pretty little room
with white muslin curtains, but afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Raymond
wanted to have him for a page in the house, and his father and mother
were quite pleased to have him employed without his leaving them.
So he was dressed in a suit of blue, from which his pale face
and fair hair came out like the loveliest blossom, and took up his
abode in the house.

"Would you be afraid to sleep alone, Diamond?" asked his mistress.

"I don't know what you mean, ma'am," said Diamond. "I never was
afraid of anything that I can recollect--not much, at least."

"There's a little room at the top of the house--all alone,"
she returned; "perhaps you would not mind sleeping there?"

"I can sleep anywhere, and I like best to be high up. Should I
be able to see out?"

"I will show you the place," she answered; and taking him by the hand,
she led him up and up the oval-winding stair in one of the two towers.

Near the top they entered a tiny little room, with two windows
from which you could see over the whole country. Diamond clapped
his hands with delight.

"You would like this room, then, Diamond?" said his mistress.

"It's the grandest room in the house," he answered. "I shall
be near the stars, and yet not far from the tops of the trees.
That's just what I like."

I daresay he thought, also, that it would be a nice place for North
Wind to call at in passing; but he said nothing of that sort.
Below him spread a lake of green leaves, with glimpses of grass
here and there at the bottom of it. As he looked down, he saw
a squirrel appear suddenly, and as suddenly vanish amongst the
topmost branches.

"Aha! little squirrel," he cried, "my nest is built higher than yours."

"You can be up here with your books as much as you like,"
said his mistress. "I will have a little bell hung at the door,
which I can ring when I want you. Half-way down the stair is
the drawing-room."

So Diamond was installed as page, and his new room got ready for him.

It was very soon after this that I came to know Diamond.
I was then a tutor in a family whose estate adjoined the little
property belonging to The Mound. I had made the acquaintance
of Mr. Raymond in London some time before, and was walking up
the drive towards the house to call upon him one fine warm evening,
when I saw Diamond for the first time. He was sitting at the foot
of a great beech-tree, a few yards from the road, with a book
on his knees. He did not see me. I walked up behind the tree,
and peeping over his shoulder, saw that he was reading a fairy-book.

"What are you reading?" I said, and spoke suddenly, with the hope
of seeing a startled little face look round at me. Diamond turned
his head as quietly as if he were only obeying his mother's voice,
and the calmness of his face rebuked my unkind desire and made me
ashamed of it.

"I am reading the story of the Little Lady and the Goblin Prince,"
said Diamond.

"I am sorry I don't know the story," I returned. "Who is it by?"

"Mr. Raymond made it."

"Is he your uncle?" I asked at a guess.

"No. He's my master."

"What do you do for him?" I asked respectfully.

"Anything he wishes me to do," he answered. "I am busy for him now.
He gave me this story to read. He wants my opinion upon it."

"Don't you find it rather hard to make up your mind?"

"Oh dear no! Any story always tells me itself what I'm to think
about it. Mr. Raymond doesn't want me to say whether it is a
clever story or not, but whether I like it, and why I like it.
I never can tell what they call clever from what they call silly,
but I always know whether I like a story or not."

"And can you always tell why you like it or not?"

"No. Very often I can't at all. Sometimes I can. I always know,
but I can't always tell why. Mr. Raymond writes the stories,
and then tries them on me. Mother does the same when she makes jam.
She's made such a lot of jam since we came here! And she always makes
me taste it to see if it'll do. Mother knows by the face I make
whether it will or not."

At this moment I caught sight of two more children approaching.
One was a handsome girl, the other a pale-faced, awkward-looking boy,
who limped much on one leg. I withdrew a little, to see what
would follow, for they seemed in some consternation. After a few
hurried words, they went off together, and I pursued my way to
the house, where I was as kindly received by Mr. and Mrs. Raymond
as I could have desired. From them I learned something of Diamond,
and was in consequence the more glad to find him, when I returned,
seated in the same place as before.

"What did the boy and girl want with you, Diamond?" I asked.

"They had seen a creature that frightened them."

"And they came to tell you about it?"

"They couldn't get water out of the well for it. So they wanted
me to go with them."

"They're both bigger than you."

"Yes, but they were frightened at it."

"And weren't you frightened at it?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because I'm silly. I'm never frightened at things."

I could not help thinking of the old meaning of the word silly.

"And what was it?" I asked.

"I think it was a kind of an angel--a very little one. It had a long
body and great wings, which it drove about it so fast that they grew
a thin cloud all round it. It flew backwards and forwards over
the well, or hung right in the middle, making a mist of its wings,
as if its business was to take care of the water."

"And what did you do to drive it away?"

"I didn't drive it away. I knew, whatever the creature was,
the well was to get water out of. So I took the jug, dipped it in,
and drew the water."

"And what did the creature do?"

"Flew about."

"And it didn't hurt you?"

"No. Why should it? I wasn't doing anything wrong."

"What did your companions say then?"

"They said--`Thank you, Diamond. What a dear silly you are!'"

"And weren't you angry with them?"

"No! Why should I? I should like if they would play with me a little;
but they always like better to go away together when their work
is over. They never heed me. I don't mind it much, though.
The other creatures are friendly. They don't run away from me.
Only they're all so busy with their own work, they don't mind
me much."

"Do you feel lonely, then?"

"Oh, no! When nobody minds me, I get into my nest, and look up.
And then the sky does mind me, and thinks about me."

"Where is your nest?"

He rose, saying, "I will show you," and led me to the other side
of the tree.

There hung a little rope-ladder from one of the lower boughs.
The boy climbed up the ladder and got upon the bough. Then he climbed
farther into the leafy branches, and went out of sight.

After a little while, I heard his voice coming down out of the tree.

"I am in my nest now," said the voice.

"I can't see you," I returned.

"I can't see you either, but I can see the first star peeping
out of the sky. I should like to get up into the sky. Don't you
think I shall, some day?"

"Yes, I do. Tell me what more you see up there."

"I don't see anything more, except a few leaves, and the big sky
over me. It goes swinging about. The earth is all behind my back.
There comes another star! The wind is like kisses from a big lady.
When I get up here I feel as if I were in North Wind's arms."

This was the first I heard of North Wind.

The whole ways and look of the child, so full of quiet wisdom,
yet so ready to accept the judgment of others in his own dispraise,
took hold of my heart, and I felt myself wonderfully drawn towards him.
It seemed to me, somehow, as if little Diamond possessed the secret
of life, and was himself what he was so ready to think the lowest
living thing--an angel of God with something special to say or do.
A gush of reverence came over me, and with a single goodnight,
I turned and left him in his nest.

I saw him often after this, and gained so much of his confidence
that he told me all I have told you. I cannot pretend to account
for it. I leave that for each philosophical reader to do after
his own fashion. The easiest way is that of Nanny and Jim,
who said often to each other that Diamond had a tile loose.
But Mr. Raymond was much of my opinion concerning the boy;
while Mrs. Raymond confessed that she often rang her bell just
to have once more the pleasure of seeing the lovely stillness
of the boy's face, with those blue eyes which seemed rather made
for other people to look into than for himself to look out of.

It was plainer to others than to himself that he felt the desertion
of Nanny and Jim. They appeared to regard him as a mere toy,
except when they found he could minister to the scruple of using him--
generally with success. They were, however, well-behaved to a
wonderful degree; while I have little doubt that much of their
good behaviour was owing to the unconscious influence of the boy
they called God's baby.

One very strange thing is that I could never find out where
he got some of his many songs. At times they would be but
bubbles blown out of a nursery rhyme, as was the following,
which I heard him sing one evening to his little Dulcimer.
There were about a score of sheep feeding in a paddock near him,
their white wool dyed a pale rose in the light of the setting sun.
Those in the long shadows from the trees were dead white;
those in the sunlight were half glorified with pale rose.

Little Bo Peep, she lost her sheep,
And didn't know where to find them;
They were over the height and out of sight,
Trailing their tails behind them.

Little Bo Peep woke out of her sleep,
Jump'd up and set out to find them:
"The silly things, they've got no wings,
And they've left their trails behind them:

"They've taken their tails, but they've left their trails,
And so I shall follow and find them;"
For wherever a tail had dragged a trail,
The long grass grew behind them.

And day's eyes and butter-cups, cow's lips and crow's feet
Were glittering in the sun.
She threw down her book, and caught up her crook,
And after her sheep did run.

She ran, and she ran, and ever as she ran,
The grass grew higher and higher;
Till over the hill the sun began
To set in a flame of fire.

She ran on still -- up the grassy hill,
And the grass grew higher and higher;
When she reached its crown, the sun was down,
And had left a trail of fire.

The sheep and their tails were gone, all gone --
And no more trail behind them!
Yes, yes! they were there -- long-tailed and fair,
But, alas! she could not find them.

Purple and gold, and rosy and blue,
With their tails all white behind them,
Her sheep they did run in the trail of the sun;
She saw them, but could not find them.

After the sun, like clouds they did run,
But she knew they were her sheep:
She sat down to cry, and look up at the sky,
But she cried herself asleep.

And as she slept the dew fell fast,
And the wind blew from the sky;
And strange things took place that shun the day's face,
Because they are sweet and shy.

Nibble, nibble, crop! she heard as she woke:
A hundred little lambs
Did pluck and eat the grass so sweet
That grew in the trails of their dams.

Little Bo Peep caught up her crook,
And wiped the tears that did blind her.
And nibble, nibble crop! without a stop!
The lambs came eating behind her.

Home, home she came, both tired and lame,
With three times as many sheep.
In a month or more, they'll be as big as before,
And then she'll laugh in her sleep.

But what would you say, if one fine day,
When they've got their bushiest tails,
Their grown up game should be just the same,
And she have to follow their trails?

Never weep, Bo Peep, though you lose your sheep,
And do not know where to find them;
'Tis after the sun the mothers have run,
And there are their lambs behind them.

I confess again to having touched up a little, but it loses far
more in Diamond's sweet voice singing it than it gains by a rhyme
here and there.

Some of them were out of books Mr. Raymond had given him.
These he always knew, but about the others he could seldom tell.
Sometimes he would say, "I made that one." but generally he would say,
"I don't know; I found it somewhere;" or "I got it at the back of
the north wind."

One evening I found him sitting on the grassy slope under the house,
with his Dulcimer in his arms and his little brother rolling
on the grass beside them. He was chanting in his usual way,
more like the sound of a brook than anything else I can think of.
When I went up to them he ceased his chant.

"Do go on, Diamond. Don't mind me," I said.

He began again at once. While he sang, Nanny and Jim sat a little
way off, one hemming a pocket-handkerchief, and the other reading
a story to her, but they never heeded Diamond. This is as near
what he sang as I can recollect, or reproduce rather.

What would you see if I took you up
To my little nest in the air?
You would see the sky like a clear blue cup
Turned upside downwards there.

What would you do if I took you there
To my little nest in the tree?
My child with cries would trouble the air,
To get what she could but see.

What would you get in the top of the tree
For all your crying and grief?
Not a star would you clutch of all you see --
You could only gather a leaf.

But when you had lost your greedy grief,
Content to see from afar,
You would find in your hand a withering leaf,
In your heart a shining star.

As Diamond went on singing, it grew very dark, and just as he
ceased there came a great flash of lightning, that blinded us all
for a moment. Dulcimer crowed with pleasure; but when the roar
of thunder came after it, the little brother gave a loud cry
of terror. Nanny and Jim came running up to us, pale with fear.
Diamond's face, too, was paler than usual, but with delight.

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