Part 4 out of 5
'Let's go and see,' said Cyril.
'It's only a dream,' said the learned gentleman to Jane, who hung
back; 'if you don't go with the tide of a dream--if you
resist--you wake up, you know.'
There was a sort of break in the undergrowth that was like a
silly person's idea of a path. They went along this in Indian
file, the learned gentleman leading.
Quite soon they came to a large clearing in the forest. There
were a number of houses--huts perhaps you would have called
them--with a sort of mud and wood fence.
'It's like the old Egyptian town,' whispered Anthea.
And it was, rather.
Some children, with no clothes on at all, were playing what
looked like Ring-o'-Roses or Mulberry Bush. That is to say, they
were dancing round in a ring, holding hands. On a grassy bank
several women, dressed in blue and white robes and tunics of
beast-skins sat watching the playing children.
The children from Fitzroy Street stood on the fringe of the
forest looking at the games. One woman with long, fair braided
hair sat a little apart from the others, and there was a look in
her eyes as she followed the play of the children that made
Anthea feel sad and sorry.
'None of those little girls is her own little girl,' thought
The little black-clad London child pulled at Anthea's sleeve.
'Look,' she said, 'that one there--she's precious like mother;
mother's 'air was somethink lovely, when she 'ad time to comb it
out. Mother wouldn't never a-beat me if she'd lived 'ere--I
don't suppose there's e'er a public nearer than Epping, do you,
In her eagerness the child had stepped out of the shelter of the
forest. The sad-eyed woman saw her. She stood up, her thin face
lighted up with a radiance like sunrise, her long, lean arms
stretched towards the London child.
'Imogen!' she cried--at least the word was more like that than
any other word--'Imogen!'
There was a moment of great silence; the naked children paused in
their play, the women on the bank stared anxiously.
'Oh, it IS mother--it IS!' cried Imogen-from-London, and rushed
across the cleared space. She and her mother clung together--so
closely, so strongly that they stood an instant like a statue
carved in stone.
Then the women crowded round. 'It IS my Imogen!' cried the woman.
'Oh it is! And she wasn't eaten by wolves. She's come back to
me. Tell me, my darling, how did you escape? Where have you
been? Who has fed and clothed you?'
'I don't know nothink,' said Imogen.
'Poor child!' whispered the women who crowded round, 'the terror
of the wolves has turned her brain.'
'But you know ME?' said the fair-haired woman.
And Imogen, clinging with black-clothed arms to the bare neck,
'Oh, yes, mother, I know YOU right 'nough.'
'What is it? What do they say?' the learned gentleman asked
'You wished to come where someone wanted the child,' said the
Psammead. 'The child says this is her mother.'
'And the mother?'
'You can see,' said the Psammead.
'But is she really? Her child, I mean?'
'Who knows?' said the Psammead; 'but each one fills the empty
place in the other's heart. It is enough.'
'Oh,' said the learned gentleman, 'this is a good dream. I wish
the child might stay in the dream.'
The Psammead blew itself out and granted the wish. So Imogen's
future was assured. She had found someone to want her.
'If only all the children that no one wants,' began the learned
gentleman--but the woman interrupted. She came towards them.
'Welcome, all!' she cried. 'I am the Queen, and my child tells
me that you have befriended her; and this I well believe, looking
on your faces. Your garb is strange, but faces I can read. The
child is bewitched, I see that well, but in this she speaks
truth. Is it not so?'
The children said it wasn't worth mentioning.
I wish you could have seen all the honours and kindnesses
lavished on the children and the learned gentleman by those
You would have thought, to see them, that a child was something
to make a fuss about, not a bit of rubbish to be hustled about
the streets and hidden away in the Workhouse. It wasn't as grand
as the entertainment at Babylon, but somehow it was more
'I think you children have some wonderful influence on me,' said
the learned gentleman. 'I never dreamed such dreams before I
It was when they were alone that night under the stars where the
Britons had spread a heap Of dried fern for them to sleep on,
that Cyril spoke.
'Well,' he said, 'we've made it all right for Imogen, and had a
jolly good time. I vote we get home again before the fighting
'What fighting?' asked Jane sleepily.
'Why, Julius Caesar, you little goat,' replied her kind brother.
'Don't you see that if this is the year fifty-five, Julius Caesar
may happen at any moment.'
'I thought you liked Caesar,' said Robert.
'So I do--in the history. But that's different from being killed
by his soldiers.'
'If we saw Caesar we might persuade him not to,' said Anthea.
'YOU persuade CAESAR,' Robert laughed.
The learned gentleman, before anyone could stop him, said, 'I
only wish we could see Caesar some time.'
And, of course, in just the little time the Psammead took to blow
itself out for wish-giving, the five, or six counting the
Psammead, found themselves in Caesar's camp, just outside
Caesar's tent. And they saw Caesar. The Psammead must have
taken advantage of the loose wording of the learned gentleman's
wish, for it was not the same time of day as that on which the
wish had been uttered among the dried ferns. It was sunset, and
the great man sat on a chair outside his tent gazing over the sea
towards Britain--everyone knew without being told that it was
towards Britain. Two golden eagles on the top of posts stood on
each side of the tent, and on the flaps of the tent which was
very gorgeous to look at were the letters S.P.Q.R.
The great man turned unchanged on the newcomers the august glance
that he had turned on the violet waters of the Channel. Though
they had suddenly appeared out of nothing, Caesar never showed by
the faintest movement of an eyelid, by the least tightening of
that firm mouth, that they were not some long expected embassy.
He waved a calm hand towards the sentinels, who sprang weapons in
hand towards the newcomers.
'Back!' he said in a voice that thrilled like music. 'Since when
has Caesar feared children and students?'
To the children he seemed to speak in the only language they
knew; but the learned gentleman heard--in rather a strange
accent, but quite intelligibly--the lips of Caesar speaking in
the Latin tongue, and in that tongue, a little stiffly, he
'It is a dream, O Caesar.'
'A dream?' repeated Caesar. 'What is a dream?'
'This,' said the learned gentleman.
'Not it,' said Cyril, 'it's a sort of magic. We come out of
another time and another place.'
'And we want to ask you not to trouble about conquering Britain,'
said Anthea; 'it's a poor little place, not worth bothering
'Are you from Britain?' the General asked. 'Your clothes are
uncouth, but well woven, and your hair is short as the hair of
Roman citizens, not long like the hair of barbarians, yet such I
deem you to be.' 'We're not,' said Jane with angry eagerness;
'we're not barbarians at all. We come from the country where the
sun never sets, and we've read about you in books; and our
country's full of fine things--St Paul's, and the Tower of
London, and Madame Tussaud's Exhibition, and--' Then the others
'Don't talk nonsense,' said Robert in a bitter undertone.
Caesar looked at the children a moment in silence. Then he
called a soldier and spoke with him apart. Then he said aloud--
'You three elder children may go where you will within the camp.
Few children are privileged to see the camp of Caesar. The
student and the smaller girl-child will remain here with me.'
Nobody liked this; but when Caesar said a thing that thing was
so, and there was an end to it. So the three went.
Left alone with Jane and the learned gentleman, the great Roman
found it easy enough to turn them inside out. But it was not
easy, even for him, to make head or tail of the insides of their
minds when he had got at them.
The learned gentleman insisted that the whole thing was a dream,
and refused to talk much, on the ground that if he did he would
Jane, closely questioned, was full of information about railways,
electric lights, balloons, men-of-war, cannons, and dynamite.
'And do they fight with swords?' asked the General.
'Yes, swords and guns and cannons.'
Caesar wanted to know what guns were.
'You fire them,' said Jane, 'and they go bang, and people fall
'But what are guns like?'
Jane found them hard to describe.
'But Robert has a toy one in his pocket,' she said. So the
others were recalled.
The boys explained the pistol to Caesar very fully, and he looked
at it with the greatest interest. It was a two-shilling pistol,
the one that had done such good service in the old Egyptian
'I shall cause guns to be made,' said Caesar, 'and you will be
detained till I know whether you have spoken the truth. I had
just decided that Britain was not worth the bother of invading.
But what you tell me decides me that it is very much worth
'But it's all nonsense,' said Anthea. 'Britain is just a savage
sort of island--all fogs and trees and big rivers. But the
people are kind. We know a little girl there named Imogen. And
it's no use your making guns because you can't fire them without
gunpowder, and that won't be invented for hundreds of years, and
we don't know how to make it, and we can't tell you. Do go
straight home, dear Caesar, and let poor little Britain alone.'
'But this other girl-child says--' said Caesar.
'All Jane's been telling you is what it's going to be,' Anthea
interrupted, 'hundreds and hundreds of years from now.'
'The little one is a prophetess, eh?' said Caesar, with a
whimsical look. 'Rather young for the business, isn't she?'
'You can call her a prophetess if you like,' said Cyril, 'but
what Anthea says is true.'
'Anthea?' said Caesar. 'That's a Greek name.'
'Very likely,' said Cyril, worriedly. 'I say, I do wish you'd
give up this idea of conquering Britain. It's not worth while,
really it isn't!'
'On the contrary,' said Caesar, 'what you've told me has decided
me to go, if it's only to find out what Britain is really like.
Guards, detain these children.'
'Quick,' said Robert, 'before the guards begin detaining. We had
enough of that in Babylon.'
Jane held up the Amulet away from the sunset, and said the word.
The learned gentleman was pushed through and the others more
quickly than ever before passed through the arch back into their
own times and the quiet dusty sitting-room of the learned
It is a curious fact that when Caesar was encamped on the coast
of Gaul--somewhere near Boulogne it was, I believe--he was
sitting before his tent in the glow of the sunset, looking out
over the violet waters of the English Channel. Suddenly he
started, rubbed his eyes, and called his secretary. The young
man came quickly from within the tent.
'Marcus,' said Caesar. 'I have dreamed a very wonderful dream.
Some of it I forget, but I remember enough to decide what was not
before determined. Tomorrow the ships that have been brought
round from the Ligeris shall be provisioned. We shall sail for
this three-cornered island. First, we will take but two legions.
This, if what we have heard be true, should suffice. But if my
dream be true, then a hundred legions will not suffice. For the
dream I dreamed was the most wonderful that ever tormented the
brain even of Caesar. And Caesar has dreamed some strange things
in his time.'
'And if you hadn't told Caesar all that about how things are now,
he'd never have invaded Britain,' said Robert to Jane as they sat
down to tea.
'Oh, nonsense,' said Anthea, pouring out; 'it was all settled
hundreds of years ago.'
'I don't know,' said Cyril. 'Jam, please. This about time being
only a thingummy of thought is very confusIng. If everything
happens at the same time--'
'It CAN'T!' said Anthea stoutly, 'the present's the present and
the past's the past.'
'Not always,' said Cyril.
'When we were in the Past the present was the future. Now then!'
he added triumphantly.
And Anthea could not deny it.
'I should have liked to see more of the camp,' said Robert.
'Yes, we didn't get much for our money--but Imogen is happy,
that's one thing,' said Anthea. 'We left her happy in the Past.
I've often seen about people being happy in the Past, in poetry
books. I see what it means now.'
'It's not a bad idea,' said the Psammead sleepily, putting its
head out of its bag and taking it in again suddenly, 'being left
in the Past.'
Everyone remembered this afterwards, when--
It was the day after the adventure of Julius Caesar and the
Little Black Girl that Cyril, bursting into the bathroom to wash
his hands for dinner (you have no idea how dirty they were, for
he had been playing shipwrecked mariners all the morning on the
leads at the back of the house, where the water-cistern is),
found Anthea leaning her elbows on the edge of the bath, and
crying steadily into it.
'Hullo!' he said, with brotherly concern, 'what's up now?
Dinner'll be cold before you've got enough salt-water for a
'Go away,' said Anthea fiercely. 'I hate you! I hate
There was a stricken pause.
'_I_ didn't know,' said Cyril tamely.
'Nobody ever does know anything,' sobbed Anthea.
'I didn't know you were waxy. I thought you'd just hurt your
fingers with the tap again like you did last week,' Cyril
'Oh--fingers!' sneered Anthea through her sniffs.
'Here, drop it, Panther,' he said uncomfortably. 'You haven't
been having a row or anything?'
'No,' she said. 'Wash your horrid hands, for goodness' sake, if
that's what you came for, or go.'
Anthea was so seldom cross that when she was cross the others
were always more surprised than angry.
Cyril edged along the side of the bath and stood beside her. He
put his hand on her arm.
'Dry up, do,' he said, rather tenderly for him. And, finding
that though she did not at once take his advice she did not seem
to resent it, he put his arm awkwardly across her shoulders and
rubbed his head against her ear.
'There!' he said, in the tone of one administering a priceless
cure for all possible sorrows. 'Now, what's up?'
'Promise you won't laugh?'
'I don't feel laughish myself,' said Cyril, dismally.
'Well, then,' said Anthea, leaning her ear against his head,
'What's the matter with Mother?' asked Cyril, with apparent want
of sympathy. 'She was all right in her letter this morning.'
'Yes; but I want her so.'
'You're not the only one,' said Cyril briefly, and the brevity of
his tone admitted a good deal.
'Oh, yes,' said Anthea, 'I know. We all want her all the time.
But I want her now most dreadfully, awfully much. I never wanted
anything so much. That Imogen child--the way the ancient British
Queen cuddled her up! And Imogen wasn't me, and the Queen was
Mother. And then her letter this morning! And about The Lamb
liking the salt bathing! And she bathed him in this very bath
the night before she went away--oh, oh, oh!'
Cyril thumped her on the back.
'Cheer up,' he said. 'You know my inside thinking that I was
doing? Well, that was partly about Mother. We'll soon get her
back. If you'll chuck it, like a sensible kid, and wash your
face, I'll tell you about it. That's right. You let me get to
the tap. Can't you stop crying? Shall I put the door-key down
'That's for noses,' said Anthea, 'and I'm not a kid any more than
you are,' but she laughed a little, and her mouth began to get
back into its proper shape. You know what an odd shape your
mouth gets into when you cry in earnest.
'Look here,' said Cyril, working the soap round and round between
his hands in a thick slime of grey soapsuds. 'I've been
thinking. We've only just PLAYED with the Amulet so far. We've
got to work it now--WORK it for all it's worth. And it isn't
only Mother either. There's Father out there all among the
fighting. I don't howl about it, but I THINK--Oh, bother the
soap!' The grey-lined soap had squirted out under the pressure
of his fingers, and had hit Anthea's chin with as much force as
though it had been shot from a catapult.
'There now,' she said regretfully, 'now I shall have to wash my
'You'd have had to do that anyway,' said Cyril with conviction.
'Now, my idea's this. You know missionaries?'
'Yes,' said Anthea, who did not know a single one.
'Well, they always take the savages beads and brandy, and stays,
and hats, and braces, and really useful things--things the
savages haven't got, and never heard about. And the savages love
them for their kind generousness, and give them pearls, and
shells, and ivory, and cassowaries. And that's the way--'
'Wait a sec,' said Anthea, splashing. 'I can't hear what you're
saying. Shells and--'
'Shells, and things like that. The great thing is to get people
to love you by being generous. And that's what we've got to do.
Next time we go into the Past we'll regularly fit out the
expedition. You remember how the Babylonian Queen froze on to
that pocket-book? Well, we'll take things like that. And offer
them in exchange for a sight of the Amulet.'
'A sight of it is not much good.'
'No, silly. But, don't you see, when we've seen it we shall know
where it is, and we can go and take it in the night when
everybody is asleep.'
'It wouldn't be stealing, would it?' said Anthea thoughtfully,
'because it will be such an awfully long time ago when we do it.
Oh, there's that bell again.'
As soon as dinner was eaten (it was tinned salmon and lettuce,
and a jam tart), and the cloth cleared away, the idea was
explained to the others, and the Psammead was aroused from sand,
and asked what it thought would be good merchandise with which to
buy the affection of say, the Ancient Egyptians, and whether it
thought the Amulet was likely to be found in the Court of
But it shook its head, and shot out its snail's eyes hopelessly.
'I'm not allowed to play in this game,' it said. 'Of course I
COULD find out in a minute where the thing was, only I mayn't.
But I may go so far as to own that your idea of taking things
with you isn't a bad one. And I shouldn't show them all at once.
Take small things and conceal them craftily about your persons.'
This advice seemed good. Soon the table was littered over with
things which the children thought likely to interest the Ancient
Egyptians. Anthea brought dolls, puzzle blocks, a wooden
tea-service, a green leather case with Necessaire written on it
in gold letters. Aunt Emma had once given it to Anthea, and it
had then contained scissors, penknife, bodkin, stiletto, thimble,
corkscrew, and glove-buttoner. The scissors, knife, and thimble,
and penknife were, of course, lost, but the other things were
there and as good as new. Cyril contributed lead soldiers, a
cannon, a catapult, a tin-opener, a tie-clip, and a tennis ball,
and a padlock--no key. Robert collected a candle ('I don't
suppose they ever saw a self-fitting paraffin one,' he said), a
penny Japanese pin-tray, a rubber stamp with his father's name
and address on it, and a piece of putty.
Jane added a key-ring, the brass handle of a poker, a pot that
had held cold-cream, a smoked pearl button off her winter coat,
and a key--no lock.
'We can't take all this rubbish,' said Robert, with some scorn.
'We must just each choose one thing.'
The afternoon passed very agreeably in the attempt to choose from
the table the four most suitable objects. But the four children
could not agree what was suitable, and at last Cyril said--
'Look here, let's each be blindfolded and reach out, and the
first thing you touch you stick to.'
This was done.
Cyril touched the padlock.
Anthea got the Necessaire.
Robert clutched the candle.
Jane picked up the tie-clip.
'It's not much,' she said. 'I don't believe Ancient Egyptians
'Never mind,' said Anthea. 'I believe it's luckier not to really
choose. In the stories it's always the thing the wood-cutter's
son picks up in the forest, and almost throws away because he
thinks it's no good, that turns out to be the magic thing in the
end; or else someone's lost it, and he is rewarded with the hand
of the King's daughter in marriage.'
'I don't want any hands in marriage, thank you.' said Cyril
'Nor yet me,' said Robert. 'It's always the end of the
adventures when it comes to the marriage hands.'
'ARE we ready?' said Anthea.
'It IS Egypt we're going to, isn't it?--nice Egypt?' said Jane.
'I won't go anywhere I don't know about--like that dreadful
big-wavy burning-mountain city,' she insisted.
Then the Psammead was coaxed into its bag. 'I say,' said Cyril
suddenly, 'I'm rather sick of kings. And people notice you so in
palaces. Besides the Amulet's sure to be in a Temple. Let's
just go among the common people, and try to work ourselves up by
degrees. We might get taken on as Temple assistants.'
'Like beadles,' said Anthea, 'or vergers. They must have
splendid chances of stealing the Temple treasures.'
'Righto!' was the general rejoinder. The charm was held up. It
grew big once again, and once again the warm golden Eastern light
glowed softly beyond it.
As the children stepped through it loud and furious voices rang
in their ears. They went suddenly from the quiet of Fitzroy
Street dining-room into a very angry Eastern crowd, a crowd much
too angry to notice them. They edged through it to the wall of a
house and stood there. The crowd was of men, women, and
children. They were of all sorts of complexions, and pictures of
them might have been coloured by any child with a shilling
paint-box. The colours that child would have used for
complexions would have been yellow ochre, red ochre, light red,
sepia, and indian ink. But their faces were painted
already--black eyebrows and lashes, and some red lips. The women
wore a sort of pinafore with shoulder straps, and loose things
wound round their heads and shoulders. The men wore very little
clothing--for they were the working people--and the Egyptian boys
and girls wore nothing at all, unless you count the little
ornaments hung on chains round their necks and waists. The
children saw all this before they could hear anything distinctly.
Everyone was shouting so.
But a voice sounded above the other voices, and presently it was
speaking in a silence.
'Comrades and fellow workers,' it said, and it was the voice of a
tall, coppery-coloured man who had climbed into a chariot that
had been stopped by the crowd. Its owner had bolted, muttering
something about calling the Guards, and now the man spoke from
it. 'Comrades and fellow workers, how long are we to endure the
tyranny of our masters, who live in idleness and luxury on the
fruit of our toil? They only give us a bare subsistence wage,
and they live on the fat of the land. We labour all our lives to
keep them in wanton luxury. Let us make an end of it!'
A roar of applause answered him.
'How are you going to do it?' cried a voice.
'You look out,' cried another, 'or you'll get yourself into
'I've heard almost every single word of that,' whispered Robert,
'in Hyde Park last Sunday!'
'Let us strike for more bread and onions and beer, and a longer
mid-day rest,' the speaker went on. 'You are tired, you are
hungry, you are thirsty. You are poor, your wives and children
are pining for food. The barns of the rich are full to bursting
with the corn we want, the corn our labour has grown. To the
'To the granaries!' cried half the crowd; but another voice
shouted clear above the tumult, 'To Pharaoh! To the King! Let's
present a petition to the King! He will listen to the voice of
For a moment the crowd swayed one way and another--first towards
the granaries and then towards the palace. Then, with a rush
like that of an imprisoned torrent suddenly set free, it surged
along the street towards the palace, and the children were
carried with it. Anthea found it difficult to keep the Psammead
from being squeezed very uncomfortably.
The crowd swept through the streets of dull-looking houses with
few windows, very high up, across the market where people were
not buying but exchanging goods. In a momentary pause Robert saw
a basket of onions exchanged for a hair comb and five fish for a
string of beads. The people in the market seemed better off than
those in the crowd; they had finer clothes, and more of them.
They were the kind of people who, nowadays, would have lived at
Brixton or Brockley.
'What's the trouble now?' a languid, large-eyed lady in a
crimped, half-transparent linen dress, with her black hair very
much braided and puffed out, asked of a date-seller.
'Oh, the working-men--discontented as usual,' the man answered.
'Listen to them. Anyone would think it mattered whether they had
a little more or less to eat. Dregs of society!' said the
'Scum!' said the lady.
'And I've heard THAT before, too,' said Robert.
At that moment the voice of the crowd changed, from anger to
doubt, from doubt to fear. There were other voices shouting;
they shouted defiance and menace, and they came nearer very
quickly. There was the rattle of wheels and the pounding of
hoofs. A voice shouted, 'Guards!'
'The Guards! The Guards!' shouted another voice, and the crowd
of workmen took up the cry. 'The Guards! Pharaoh's Guards!'
And swaying a little once more, the crowd hung for a moment as it
were balanced. Then as the trampling hoofs came nearer the
workmen fled dispersed, up alleys and into the courts of houses,
and the Guards in their embossed leather chariots swept down the
street at the gallop, their wheels clattering over the stones,
and their dark- coloured, blue tunics blown open and back with
the wind of their going.
'So THAT riot's over,' said the crimped-linen-dressed lady;
'that's a blessing! And did you notice the Captain of the Guard?
What a very handsome man he was, to be sure!'
The four children had taken advantage of the moment's pause
before the crowd turned to fly, to edge themselves and drag each
other into an arched doorway.
Now they each drew a long breath and looked at the others.
'We're well out of THAT,' said Cyril.
'Yes,' said Anthea, 'but I do wish the poor men hadn't been
driven back before they could get to the King. He might have
done something for them.'
'Not if he was the one in the Bible he wouldn't,' said Jane. 'He
had a hard heart.' 'Ah, that was the Moses one,' Anthea
explained. 'The Joseph one was quite different. I should like
to see Pharaoh's house. I wonder whether it's like the Egyptian
Court in the Crystal Palace.'
'I thought we decided to try to get taken on in a Temple,' said
Cyril in injured tones.
'Yes, but we've got to know someone first. Couldn't we make
friends with a Temple doorkeeper--we might give him the padlock
or something. I wonder which are temples and which are palaces,'
Robert added, glancing across the market-place to where an
enormous gateway with huge side buildings towered towards the
sky. To right and left of it were other buildings only a little
'Did you wish to seek out the Temple of Amen Ra?' asked a soft
voice behind them, 'or the Temple of Mut, or the Temple of
They turned to find beside them a young man. He was shaved clean
from head to foot, and on his feet were light papyrus sandals.
He was clothed in a linen tunic of white, embroidered heavily in
colours. He was gay with anklets, bracelets, and armlets of
gold, richly inlaid. He wore a ring on his finger, and he had a
short jacket of gold embroidery something like the Zouave
soldiers wear, and on his neck was a gold collar with many
amulets hanging from it. But among the amulets the children
could see none like theirs.
'It doesn't matter which Temple,' said Cyril frankly.
'Tell me your mission,' said the young man. 'I am a divine
father of the Temple of Amen Ra and perhaps I can help you.'
'Well,' said Cyril, 'we've come from the great Empire on which
the sun never sets.'
'I thought somehow that you'd come from some odd, out-of-the-way
spot,' said the priest with courtesy.
'And we've seen a good many palaces. We thought we should like
to see a Temple, for a change,' said Robert.
The Psammead stirred uneasily in its embroidered bag.
'Have you brought gifts to the Temple?' asked the priest
'We HAVE got some gifts,' said Cyril with equal caution. 'You
see there's magic mixed up in it. So we can't tell you
everything. But we don't want to give our gifts for nothing.'
'Beware how you insult the god,' said the priest sternly. 'I
also can do magic. I can make a waxen image of you, and I can
say words which, as the wax image melts before the fire, will
make you dwindle away and at last perish miserably.'
'Pooh!' said Cyril stoutly, 'that's nothing. _I_ can make FIRE
'I should jolly well like to see you do it,' said the priest
'Well, you shall,' said Cyril, 'nothing easier. Just stand close
'Do you need no preparation--no fasting, no incantations?' The
priest's tone was incredulous.
'The incantation's quite short,' said Cyril, taking the hint;
'and as for fasting, it's not needed in MY sort of magic. Union
Jack, Printing Press, Gunpowder, Rule Britannia! Come, Fire, at
the end of this little stick!'
He had pulled a match from his pocket, and as he ended the
incantation which contained no words that it seemed likely the
Egyptian had ever heard he stooped in the little crowd of his
relations and the priest and struck the match on his boot. He
stood up, shielding the flame with one hand.
'See?' he said, with modest pride. 'Here, take it into your
'No, thank you,' said the priest, swiftly backing. 'Can you do
'Then come with me to the great double house of Pharaoh. He
loves good magic, and he will raise you to honour and glory.
There's no need of secrets between initiates,' he went on
confidentially. 'The fact is, I am out of favour at present
owing to a little matter of failure of prophecy. I told him a
beautiful princess would be sent to him from Syria, and, lo! a
woman thirty years old arrived. But she WAS a beautiful woman
not so long ago. Time is only a mode of thought, you know.'
The children thrilled to the familiar words.
'So you know that too, do you?' said Cyril.
'It is part of the mystery of all magic, is it not?' said the
priest. 'Now if I bring you to Pharaoh the little unpleasantness
I spoke of will be forgotten. And I will ask Pharaoh, the Great
House, Son of the Sun, and Lord of the South and North, to decree
that you shall lodge in the Temple. Then you can have a good
look round, and teach me your magic. And I will teach you mine.'
This idea seemed good--at least it was better than any other
which at that moment occurred to anybody, so they followed the
priest through the city.
The streets were very narrow and dirty. The best houses, the
priest explained, were built within walls twenty to twenty-five
feet high, and such windows as showed in the walls were very high
up. The tops of palm-trees showed above the walls. The poor
people's houses were little square huts with a door and two
windows, and smoke coming out of a hole in the back.
'The poor Egyptians haven't improved so very much in their
building since the first time we came to Egypt,' whispered Cyril
The huts were roofed with palm branches, and everywhere there
were chickens, and goats, and little naked children kicking about
in the yellow dust. On one roof was a goat, who had climbed up
and was eating the dry palm-leaves with snorts and head-tossings
of delight. Over every house door was some sort of figure or
'Amulets,' the priest explained, 'to keep off the evil eye.'
'I don't think much of your "nice Egypt",' Robert whispered to
Jane; 'it's simply not a patch on Babylon.'
'Ah, you wait till you see the palace,' Jane whispered back.
The palace was indeed much more magnificent than anything they
had yet seen that day, though it would have made but a poor show
beside that of the Babylonian King. They came to it through a
great square pillared doorway of sandstone that stood in a high
brick wall. The shut doors were of massive cedar, with bronze
hinges, and were studded with bronze nails. At the side was a
little door and a wicket gate, and through this the priest led
the children. He seemed to know a word that made the sentries
make way for him.
Inside was a garden, planted with hundreds of different kinds of
trees and flowering shrubs, a lake full of fish, with blue lotus
flowers at the margin, and ducks swimming about cheerfully, and
looking, as Jane said, quite modern.
'The guard-chamber, the store-houses, the queen's house,' said
the priest, pointing them out.
They passed through open courtyards, paved with flat stones, and
the priest whispered to a guard at a great inner gate.
'We are fortunate,' he said to the children, 'Pharaoh is even now
in the Court of Honour. Now, don't forget to be overcome with
respect and admiration. It won't do any harm if you fall flat on
your faces. And whatever you do, don't speak until you're spoken
'There used to be that rule in our country,' said Robert, 'when
my father was a little boy.'
At the outer end of the great hall a crowd of people were arguing
with and even shoving the Guards, who seemed to make it a rule
not to let anyone through unless they were bribed to do it. The
children heard several promises of the utmost richness, and
wondered whether they would ever be kept.
All round the hall were pillars of painted wood. The roof was of
cedar, gorgeously inlaid. About half-way up the hall was a wide,
shallow step that went right across the hall; then a little
farther on another; and then a steep flight of narrower steps,
leading right up to the throne on which Pharaoh sat. He sat
there very splendid, his red and white double crown on his head,
and his sceptre in his hand. The throne had a canopy of wood and
wooden pillars painted in bright colours. On a low, broad bench
that ran all round the hall sat the friends, relatives, and
courtiers of the King, leaning on richly-covered cushions.
The priest led the children up the steps till they all stood
before the throne; and then, suddenly, he fell on his face with
hands outstretched. The others did the same, Anthea falling
very carefully because of the Psammead.
'Raise them,' said the voice of Pharaoh, 'that they may speak to
The officers of the King's household raised them.
'Who are these strangers?' Pharaoh asked, and added very crossly,
'And what do you mean, Rekh-mara, by daring to come into my
presence while your innocence is not established?'
'Oh, great King,' said the young priest, 'you are the very image
of Ra, and the likeness of his son Horus in every respect. You
know the thoughts of the hearts of the gods and of men, and you
have divined that these strangers are the children of the
children of the vile and conquered Kings of the Empire where the
sun never sets. They know a magic not known to the Egyptians.
And they come with gifts in their hands as tribute to Pharaoh, in
whose heart is the wisdom of the gods, and on his lips their
'That is all very well,' said Pharaoh, 'but where are the gifts?'
The children, bowing as well as they could in their embarrassment
at finding themselves the centre of interest in a circle more
grand, more golden and more highly coloured than they could have
imagined possible, pulled out the padlock, the Necessaire, and
the tie-clip. 'But it's not tribute all the same,' Cyril
muttered. 'England doesn't pay tribute!'
Pharaoh examined all the things with great interest when the
chief of the household had taken them up to him. 'Deliver them
to the Keeper of the Treasury,' he said to one near him. And to
the children he said--
'A small tribute, truly, but strange, and not without worth. And
the magic, O Rekh-mara?'
'These unworthy sons of a conquered nation ...' began Rekh-mara.
'Nothing of the kind!' Cyril whispered angrily.
'... of a vile and conquered nation, can make fire to spring
from dry wood--in the sight of all.'
'I should jolly well like to see them do it,' said Pharaoh, just
as the priest had done.
So Cyril, without more ado, did it.
'Do more magic,' said the King, with simple appreciation.
'He cannot do any more magic,' said Anthea suddenly, and all eyes
were turned on her, 'because of the voice of the free people who
are shouting for bread and onions and beer and a long mid-day
rest. If the people had what they wanted, he could do more.'
'A rude-spoken girl,' said Pharaoh. 'But give the dogs what they
want,' he said, without turning his head. 'Let them have their
rest and their extra rations. There are plenty of slaves to
A richly-dressed official hurried out.
'You will be the idol of the people,' Rekh-mara whispered
joyously; 'the Temple of Amen will not contain their offerings.'
Cyril struck another match, and all the court was overwhelmed
with delight and wonder. And when Cyril took the candle from his
pocket and lighted it with the match, and then held the burning
candle up before the King the enthusiasm knew no bounds.
'Oh, greatest of all, before whom sun and moon and stars bow
down,' said Rekh-mara insinuatingly, 'am I pardoned? Is my
innocence made plain?'
'As plain as it ever will be, I daresay,' said Pharaoh shortly.
'Get along with you. You are pardoned. Go in peace.' The
priest went with lightning swiftness.
'And what,' said the King suddenly, 'is it that moves in that
Show me, oh strangers.'
There was nothing for it but to show the Psammead.
'Seize it,' said Pharaoh carelessly. 'A very curious monkey. It
will be a nice little novelty for my wild beast collection.'
And instantly, the entreaties of the children availing as little
as the bites of the Psammead, though both bites and entreaties
were fervent, it was carried away from before their eyes.
'Oh, DO be careful!' cried Anthea. 'At least keep it dry! Keep
it in its sacred house!'
She held up the embroidered bag.
'It's a magic creature,' cried Robert; 'it's simply priceless!'
'You've no right to take it away,' cried Jane incautiously.
'It's a shame, a barefaced robbery, that's what it is!'
There was an awful silence. Then Pharaoh spoke.
'Take the sacred house of the beast from them,' he said, 'and
imprison all. Tonight after supper it may be our pleasure to see
more magic. Guard them well, and do not torture them--yet!'
'Oh, dear!' sobbed Jane, as they were led away. 'I knew exactly
what it would be! Oh, I wish you hadn't!'
'Shut up, silly,' said Cyril. 'You know you WOULD come to Egypt.
It was your own idea entirely. Shut up. It'll be all right.'
'I thought we should play ball with queens,' sobbed Jane, 'and
have no end of larks! And now everything's going to be perfectly
The room they were shut up in WAS a room, and not a dungeon, as
the elder ones had feared. That, as Anthea said, was one
comfort. There were paintings on the wall that at any other time
would have been most interesting. And a sort of low couch, and
chairs. When they were alone Jane breathed a sigh of relief.
'Now we can get home all right,' she said.
'And leave the Psammead?' said Anthea reproachfully.
'Wait a sec. I've got an idea,' said Cyril. He pondered for a
few moments. Then he began hammering on the heavy cedar door.
It opened, and a guard put in his head.
'Stop that row,' he said sternly, 'or--'
'Look here,' Cyril interrupted, 'it's very dull for you isn't
it?just doing nothing but guard us. Wouldn't you like to see
some magic? We're not too proud to do it for you. Wouldn't you
like to see it?'
'I don't mind if I do,' said the guard.
'Well then, you get us that monkey of ours that was taken away,
and we'll show you.'
'How do I know you're not making game of me?' asked the soldier.
'Shouldn't wonder if you only wanted to get the creature so as to
set it on me. I daresay its teeth and claws are poisonous.'
'Well, look here,' said Robert. 'You see we've got nothing with
us? You just shut the door, and open it again in five minutes,
and we'll have got a magic--oh, I don't know--a magic flower in a
pot for you.'
'If you can do that you can do anything,' said the soldier, and
he went out and barred the door.
Then, of course, they held up the Amulet. They found the East by
holding it up, and turning slowly till the Amulet began to grow
big, walked home through it, and came back with a geranium in
full scarlet flower from the staircase window of the Fitzroy
'Well!' said the soldier when he came in. 'I really am--!'
'We can do much more wonderful things than that--oh, ever so
much,' said Anthea persuasively, 'if we only have our monkey.
And here's twopence for yourself.'
The soldier looked at the twopence.
'What's this?' he said.
Robert explained how much simpler it was to pay money for things
than to exchange them as the people were doing in the market.
Later on the soldier gave the coins to his captain, who, later
still, showed them to Pharaoh, who of course kept them and was
much struck with the idea. That was really how coins first came
to be used in Egypt. You will not believe this, I daresay, but
really, if you believe the rest of the story, I don't see why you
shouldn't believe this as well.
'I say,' said Anthea, struck by a sudden thought, 'I suppose
it'll be all right about those workmen? The King won't go back
on what he said about them just because he's angry with us?'
'Oh, no,' said the soldier, 'you see, he's rather afraid of
magic. He'll keep to his word right enough.'
'Then THAT'S all right,' said Robert; and Anthea said softly and
'Ah, DO get us the monkey, and then you'll see some lovely magic.
Do--there's a nice, kind soldier.'
'I don't know where they've put your precious monkey, but if I
can get another chap to take on my duty here I'll see what I can
do,' he said grudgingly, and went out.
'Do you mean,' said Robert, 'that we're going off without even
TRYING for the other half of the Amulet?'
'I really think we'd better,' said Anthea tremulously. 'Of course
the other half of the Amulet's here somewhere or our half
wouldn't have brought us here. I do wish we could find it. It
is a pity we don't know any REAL magic. Then we could find out.
I do wonder where it is--exactly.'
If they had only known it, something very like the other half of
the Amulet was very near them. It hung round the neck of
someone, and that someone was watching them through a chink, high
up in the wall, specially devised for watching people who were
imprisoned. But they did not know.
There was nearly an hour of anxious waiting. They tried to take
an interest in the picture on the wall, a picture of harpers
playing very odd harps and women dancing at a feast. They
examined the painted plaster floor, and the chairs were of white
painted wood with coloured stripes at intervals.
But the time went slowly, and everyone had time to think of how
Pharaoh had said, 'Don't torture them--YET.'
'If the worst comes to the worst,' said Cyril, 'we must just
bunk, and leave the Psammead. I believe it can take care of
itself well enough. They won't kill it or hurt it when they find
it can speak and give wishes. They'll build it a temple, I
'I couldn't bear to go without it,' said Anthea, 'and Pharaoh
said "After supper", that won't be just yet. And the soldier WAS
curious. I'm sure we're all right for the present.'
All the same, the sounds of the door being unbarred seemed one of
the prettiest sounds possible.
'Suppose he hasn't got the Psammead?' whispered Jane.
But that doubt was set at rest by the Psammead itself; for almost
before the door was open it sprang through the chink of it into
Anthea's arms, shivering and hunching up its fur.
'Here's its fancy overcoat,' said the soldier, holding out the
bag, into which the Psammead immediately crept.
'Now,' said Cyril, 'what would you like us to do? Anything you'd
like us to get for you?'
'Any little trick you like,' said the soldier. 'If you can get a
strange flower blooming in an earthenware vase you can get
anything, I suppose,' he said. 'I just wish I'd got two men's
loads of jewels from the King's treasury. That's what I've
always wished for.'
At the word 'WISH' the children knew that the Psammead would
attend to THAT bit of magic. It did, and the floor was littered
with a spreading heap of gold and precious stones.
'Any other little trick?' asked Cyril loftily. 'Shall we become
'Yes, if you like,' said the soldier; 'but not through the door,
He closed it carefully and set his broad Egyptian back against
'No! no!' cried a voice high up among the tops of the tall wooden
pillars that stood against the wall. There was a sound of
someone moving above.
The soldier was as much surprised as anybody.
'That's magic, if you like,' he said.
And then Jane held up the Amulet, uttering the word of Power. At
the sound of it and at the sight of the Amulet growing into the
great arch the soldier fell flat on his face among the jewels
with a cry of awe and terror.
The children went through the arch with a quickness born of long
practice. But Jane stayed in the middle of the arch and looked
The others, standing on the dining-room carpet in Fitzroy Street,
turned and saw her still in the arch. 'Someone's holding her,'
cried Cyril. 'We must go back.'
But they pulled at Jane's hands just to see if she would come,
and, of course, she did come.
Then, as usual, the arch was little again and there they all
'Oh, I do wish you hadn't!' Jane said crossly. "It WAS so
interesting. The priest had come in and he was kicking the
soldier, and telling him he'd done it now, and they must take the
jewels and flee for their lives.'
'And did they?'
'I don't know. You interfered,' said Jane ungratefully. 'I
SHOULD have liked to see the last of it.'
As a matter of fact, none of them had seen the last of it--if by
'it' Jane meant the adventure of the Priest and the Soldier.
THE SORRY-PRESENT AND THE EXPELLED LITTLE BOY
'Look here, said Cyril, sitting on the dining-table and swinging
his legs; 'I really have got it.'
'Got what?' was the not unnatural rejoinder of the others.
Cyril was making a boat with a penknife and a piece of wood, and
the girls were making warm frocks for their dolls, for the
weather was growing chilly.
'Why, don't you see? It's really not any good our going into the
Past looking for that Amulet. The Past's as full of different
times as--as the sea is of sand. We're simply bound to hit upon
the wrong time. We might spend our lives looking for the Amulet
and never see a sight of it. Why, it's the end of September
already. It's like looking for a needle in--'
'A bottle of hay--I know,' interrupted Robert; 'but if we don't
go on doing that, what ARE we to do?'
'That's just it,' said Cyril in mysterious accents. 'Oh,
Old Nurse had come in with the tray of knives, forks, and
glasses, and was getting the tablecloth and table-napkins out of
the chiffonier drawer.
'It's always meal-times just when you come to anything
'And a nice interesting handful YOU'D be, Master Cyril,' said old
Nurse, 'if I wasn't to bring your meals up to time. Don't you
begin grumbling now, fear you get something to grumble AT.'
'I wasn't grumbling,' said Cyril quite untruly; 'but it does
always happen like that.'
'You deserve to HAVE something happen,' said old Nurse. 'Slave,
slave, slave for you day and night, and never a word of thanks.
'Why, you do everything beautifully,' said Anthea.
'It's the first time any of you's troubled to say so, anyhow,'
said Nurse shortly.
'What's the use of SAYING?' inquired Robert. 'We EAT our meals
fast enough, and almost always two helps. THAT ought to show
'Ah!' said old Nurse, going round the table and putting the
knives and forks in their places; 'you're a man all over, Master
Robert. There was my poor Green, all the years he lived with me
I never could get more out of him than "It's all right!" when I
asked him if he'd fancied his dinner. And yet, when he lay
a-dying, his last words to me was, "Maria, you was always a good
cook!"' She ended with a trembling voice.
'And so you are,' cried Anthea, and she and Jane instantly hugged
When she had gone out of the room Anthea said--
'I know exactly how she feels. Now, look here! Let's do a
penance to show we're sorry we didn't think about telling her
before what nice cooking she does, and what a dear she is.'
'Penances are silly,' said Robert.
'Not if the penance is something to please someone else. I
didn't mean old peas and hair shirts and sleeping on the stones.
I mean we'll make her a sorry-present,' explained Anthea. 'Look
here! I vote Cyril doesn't tell us his idea until we've done
something for old Nurse. It's worse for us than him,' she added
hastily, 'because he knows what it is and we don't. Do you all
The others would have been ashamed not to agree, so they did. It
was not till quite near the end of dinner--mutton fritters and
blackberry and apple pie--that out of the earnest talk of the
four came an idea that pleased everybody and would, they hoped,
Cyril and Robert went out with the taste of apple still in their
mouths and the purple of blackberries on their lips--and, in the
case of Robert, on the wristband as well--and bought a big sheet
of cardboard at the stationers. Then at the plumber's shop, that
has tubes and pipes and taps and gas-fittings in the window, they
bought a pane of glass the same size as the cardboard. The man
cut it with a very interesting tool that had a bit of diamond at
the end, and he gave them, out of his own free generousness, a
large piece of putty and a small piece of glue.
While they were out the girls had floated four photographs of the
four children off their cards in hot water. These were now stuck
in a row along the top of the cardboard. Cyril put the glue to
melt in a jampot, and put the jampot in a saucepan and saucepan
on the fire, while Robert painted a wreath of poppies round the
photographs. He painted rather well and very quickly, and
poppies are easy to do if you've once been shown how. Then
Anthea drew some printed letters and Jane coloured them. The
'With all our loves to shew
We like the thigs to eat.'
And when the painting was dry they all signed their names at the
bottom and put the glass on, and glued brown paper round the edge
and over the back, and put two loops of tape to hang it up by.
Of course everyone saw when too late that there were not enough
letters in 'things', so the missing 'n' was put in. It was
impossible, of course, to do the whole thing over again for just
'There!' said Anthea, placing it carefully, face up, under the
sofa. 'It'll be hours before the glue's dry. Now, Squirrel,
'Well, then,' said Cyril in a great hurry, rubbing at his gluey
hands with his pocket handkerchief. 'What I mean to say is
There was a long pause.
'Well,' said Robert at last, 'WHAT is it that you mean to say?'
'It's like this,' said Cyril, and again stopped short.
'Like WHAT?' asked Jane.
'How can I tell you if you will all keep on interrupting?' said
So no one said any more, and with wrinkled frowns he arranged his
'Look here,' he said, 'what I really mean is--we can remember now
what we did when we went to look for the Amulet. And if we'd
found it we should remember that too.'
'Rather!' said Robert. 'Only, you see we haven't.'
'But in the future we shall have.'
'Shall we, though?' said Jane.
'Yes--unless we've been made fools of by the Psammead. So then,
where we want to go to is where we shall remember about where we
did find it.'
'I see,' said Robert, but he didn't.
'_I_ don't,' said Anthea, who did, very nearly. 'Say it again,
Squirrel, and very slowly.'
'If,' said Cyril, very slowly indeed, 'we go into the
future--after we've found the Amulet--'
'But we've got to find it first,' said Jane.
'Hush!' said Anthea.
'There will be a future,' said Cyril, driven to greater clearness
by the blank faces of the other three, 'there will be a time
AFTER we've found it. Let's go into THAT time--and then we shall
remember HOW we found it. And then we can go back and do the
'I see,' said Robert, and this time he did, and I hope YOU do.
'Yes,' said Anthea. 'Oh, Squirrel, how clever of you!'
'But will the Amulet work both ways?' inquired Robert.
'It ought to,' said Cyril, 'if time's only a thingummy of
whatsitsname. Anyway we might try.'
'Let's put on our best things, then,' urged Jane. 'You know what
people say about progress and the world growing better and
brighter. I expect people will be awfully smart in the future.'
'All right,' said Anthea, 'we should have to wash anyway, I'm all
thick with glue.'
When everyone was clean and dressed, the charm was held up.
'We want to go into the future and see the Amulet after we've
found it,' said Cyril, and Jane said the word of Power. They
walked through the big arch of the charm straight into the
They knew it at once, and there, right in front of them, under a
glass case, was the Amulet--their own half of it, as well as the
other half they had never been able to find--and the two were
joined by a pin of red stone that formed a hinge.
'Oh, glorious!' cried Robert. 'Here it is!'
'Yes,' said Cyril, very gloomily, 'here it is. But we can't get
'No,' said Robert, remembering how impossible the Queen of
Babylon had found it to get anything out of the glass cases in
the Museum--except by Psammead magic, and then she hadn't been
able to take anything away with her; 'no--but we remember where
we got it, and we can--'
'Oh, DO we?' interrupted Cyril bitterly, 'do YOU remember where
we got it?'
'No,' said Robert, 'I don't exactly, now I come to think of it.'
Nor did any of the others!
'But WHY can't we?' said Jane.
'Oh, _I_ don't know,' Cyril's tone was impatient, 'some silly old
enchanted rule I suppose. I wish people would teach you magic at
school like they do sums--or instead of. It would be some use
having an Amulet then.'
'I wonder how far we are in the future,' said Anthea; the Museum
looks just the same, only lighter and brighter, somehow.'
'Let's go back and try the Past again,' said Robert.
'Perhaps the Museum people could tell us how we got it,' said
Anthea with sudden hope. There was no one in the room, but in
the next gallery, where the Assyrian things are and still were,
they found a kind, stout man in a loose, blue gown, and
'Oh, they've got a new uniform, how pretty!' said Jane.
When they asked him their question he showed them a label on the
case. It said, 'From the collection of--.' A name followed, and
it was the name of the learned gentleman who, among themselves,
and to his face when he had been with them at the other side of
the Amulet, they had called Jimmy.
'THAT'S not much good,' said Cyril, 'thank you.'
'How is it you're not at school?' asked the kind man in blue.
'Not expelled for long I hope?'
'We're not expelled at all,' said Cyril rather warmly.
'Well, I shouldn't do it again, if I were you,' said the man, and
they could see he did not believe them. There is no company so
little pleasing as that of people who do not believe you.
'Thank you for showing us the label,' said Cyril. And they came
As they came through the doors of the Museum they blinked at the
sudden glory of sunlight and blue sky. The houses opposite the
Museum were gone. Instead there was a big garden, with trees and
flowers and smooth green lawns, and not a single notice to tell
you not to walk on the grass and not to destroy the trees and
shrubs and not to pick the flowers. There were comfortable seats
all about, and arbours covered with roses, and long, trellised
walks, also rose-covered. Whispering, splashing fountains fell
into full white marble basins, white statues gleamed among the
leaves, and the pigeons that swept about among the branches or
pecked on the smooth, soft gravel were not black and tumbled like
the Museum pigeons are now, but bright and clean and sleek as
birds of new silver. A good many people were sitting on the
seats, and on the grass babies were rolling and kicking and
playing--with very little on indeed. Men, as well as women,
seemed to be in charge of the babies and were playing with them.
'It's like a lovely picture,' said Anthea, and it was. For the
people's clothes were of bright, soft colours and all beautifully
and very simply made. No one seemed to have any hats or bonnets,
but there were a great many Japanese-looking sunshades. And
among the trees were hung lamps of coloured glass.
'I expect they light those in the evening,' said Jane. 'I do
wish we lived in the future!'
They walked down the path, and as they went the people on the
benches looked at the four children very curiously, but not
rudely or unkindly. The children, in their turn, looked--I hope
they did not stare--at the faces of these people in the beautiful
soft clothes. Those faces were worth looking at. Not that they
were all handsome, though even in the matter of handsomeness they
had the advantage of any set of people the children had ever
seen. But it was the expression of their faces that made them
worth looking at. The children could not tell at first what it
'I know,' said Anthea suddenly. 'They're not worried; that's
what it is.'
And it was. Everybody looked calm, no one seemed to be in a
hurry, no one seemed to be anxious, or fretted, and though some
did seem to be sad, not a single one looked worried.
But though the people looked kind everyone looked so interested
in the children that they began to feel a little shy and turned
out of the big main path into a narrow little one that wound
among trees and shrubs and mossy, dripping springs.
It was here, in a deep, shadowed cleft between tall cypresses,
that they found the expelled little boy. He was lying face
downward on the mossy turf, and the peculiar shaking of his
shoulders was a thing they had seen, more than once, in each
other. So Anthea kneeled down by him and said--
'What's the matter?'
'I'm expelled from school,' said the boy between his sobs.
This was serious. People are not expelled for light offences.
'Do you mind telling us what you'd done?'
'I--I tore up a sheet of paper and threw it about in the
playground,' said the child, in the tone of one confessing an
unutterable baseness. 'You won't talk to me any more now you
know that,' he added without looking up.
'Was that all?' asked Anthea.
'It's about enough,' said the child; 'and I'm expelled for the
'I don't quite understand,' said Anthea, gently. The boy lifted
his face, rolled over, and sat up .
'Why, whoever on earth are you?' he said.
'We're strangers from a far country,' said Anthea. 'In our
country it's not a crime to leave a bit of paper about.'
'It is here,' said the child. 'If grown-ups do it they're fined.
When we do it we're expelled for the whole day.'
'Well, but,' said Robert, 'that just means a day' s holiday.'
'You MUST come from a long way off,' said the little boy. 'A
holiday's when you all have play and treats and jolliness, all of
you together. On your expelled days no one'll speak to you.
Everyone sees you're an Expelleder or you'd be in school.'
'Suppose you were ill?'
'Nobody is--hardly. If they are, of course they wear the badge,
and everyone is kind to you. I know a boy that stole his
sister's illness badge and wore it when he was expelled for a
day. HE got expelled for a week for that. It must be awful not
to go to school for a week.'
'Do you LIKE school, then?' asked Robert incredulously.
'Of course I do. It's the loveliest place there is. I chose
railways for my special subject this year, there are such
splendid models and things, and now I shall be all behind because
of that torn-up paper.'
'You choose your own subject?' asked Cyril.
'Yes, of course. Where DID you come from? Don't you know
'No,' said Jane definitely; 'so you'd better tell us.'
'Well, on Midsummer Day school breaks up and everything's
decorated with flowers, and you choose your special subject for
next year. Of course you have to stick to it for a year at
least. Then there are all your other subjects, of course,
reading, and painting, and the rules of Citizenship.'
'Good gracious!' said Anthea.
'Look here,' said the child, jumping up, 'it's nearly four. The
expelledness only lasts till then. Come home with me. Mother
will tell you all about everything.'
'Will your mother like you taking home strange children?' asked
'I don't understand,' said the child, settling his leather belt
over his honey-coloured smock and stepping out with hard little
bare feet. 'Come on.'
So they went.
The streets were wide and hard and very clean. There were no
horses, but a sort of motor carriage that made no noise. The
Thames flowed between green banks, and there were trees at the
edge, and people sat under them, fishing, for the stream was
clear as crystal. Everywhere there were green trees and there
was no smoke. The houses were set in what seemed like one green
The little boy brought them to a house, and at the window was a
good, bright mother-face. The little boy rushed in, and through
the window they could see him hugging his mother, then his eager
lips moving and his quick hands pointing.
A lady in soft green clothes came out, spoke kindly to them, and
took them into the oddest house they had ever seen. It was very
bare, there were no ornaments, and yet every single thing was
beautiful, from the dresser with its rows of bright china, to the
thick squares of Eastern-looking carpet on the floors. I can't
describe that house; I haven't the time. And I haven't heart
either, when I think how different it was from our houses. The
lady took them all over it. The oddest thing of all was the big
room in the middle. It had padded walls and a soft, thick
carpet, and all the chairs and tables were padded. There wasn't
a single thing in it that anyone could hurt itself with.
'What ever's this for?--lunatics?' asked Cyril.
The lady looked very shocked.
'No! It's for the children, of course,' she said. 'Don't tell
me that in your country there are no children's rooms.'
'There are nurseries,' said Anthea doubtfully, 'but the
furniture's all cornery and hard, like other rooms.'
'How shocking!' said the lady;'you must be VERY much behind the
times in your country! Why, the children are more than half of
the people; it's not much to have one room where they can have a
good time and not hurt themselves.'
'But there's no fireplace,' said Anthea.
'Hot-air pipes, of course,' said the lady. 'Why, how could you
have a fire in a nursery? A child might get burned.'
'In our country,' said Robert suddenly, 'more than 3,000 children
are burned to death every year. Father told me,' he added, as if
apologizing for this piece of information, 'once when I'd been
playing with fire.'
The lady turned quite pale.
'What a frightful place you must live in!' she said. 'What's all
the furniture padded for?' Anthea asked, hastily turning the
'Why, you couldn't have little tots of two or three running about
in rooms where the things were hard and sharp! They might hurt
Robert fingered the scar on his forehead where he had hit it
against the nursery fender when he was little.
'But does everyone have rooms like this, poor people and all?'
'There's a room like this wherever there's a child, of course,'
said the lady. 'How refreshingly ignorant you are!--no, I don't
mean ignorant, my dear. Of course, you're awfully well up in
ancient History. But I see you haven't done your Duties of
Citizenship Course yet.'
'But beggars, and people like that?' persisted Anthea 'and tramps
and people who haven't any homes?'
'People who haven't any homes?' repeated the lady. 'I really
DON'T understand what you're talking about.'
'It's all different in our country,' said Cyril carefully; and I
have read it used to be different in London. Usedn't people to
have no homes and beg because they were hungry? And wasn't
London very black and dirty once upon a time? And the Thames all
muddy and filthy? And narrow streets, and--'
'You must have been reading very old-fashioned books,' said the
lady. 'Why, all that was in the dark ages! My husband can tell
you more about it than I can. He took Ancient History as one of
his special subjects.'
'I haven't seen any working people,' said Anthea.
'Why, we're all working people,' said the lady; 'at least my
husband's a carpenter.'
'Good gracious!' said Anthea; 'but you're a lady!'
'Ah,' said the lady, 'that quaint old word! Well, my husband
WILL enjoy a talk with you. In the dark ages everyone was
allowed to have a smoky chimney, and those nasty horses all over
the streets, and all sorts of rubbish thrown into the Thames.
And, of course, the sufferings of the people will hardly bear
thinking of. It's very learned of you to know it all. Did you
make Ancient History your special subject?'
'Not exactly,' said Cyril, rather uneasily. 'What is the Duties
of Citizenship Course about?'
'Don't you REALLY know? Aren't you pretending--just for fun?
Really not? Well, that course teaches you how to be a good
citizen, what you must do and what you mayn't do, so as to do
your full share of the work of making your town a beautiful and
happy place for people to live in. There's a quite simple little
thing they teach the tiny children. How does it go ...?
'I must not steal and I must learn,
Nothing is mine that I do not earn.
I must try in work and play
To make things beautiful every day.
I must be kind to everyone,
And never let cruel things be done.
I must be brave, and I must try
When I am hurt never to cry,
And always laugh as much as I can,
And be glad that I'm going to be a man
To work for my living and help the rest
And never do less than my very best.'
'That's very easy,' said Jane. '_I_ could remember that.'
'That's only the very beginning, of course,' said the lady;
'there are heaps more rhymes. There's the one beginning--
'I must not litter the beautiful street
With bits of paper or things to eat;
I must not pick the public flowers,
They are not MINE, but they are OURS.'
'And "things to eat" reminds me--are you hungry? Wells, run and
get a tray of nice things.'
'Why do you call him "Wells"?' asked Robert, as the boy ran off.
'It's after the great reformer--surely you've heard of HIM? He
lived in the dark ages, and he saw that what you ought to do is
to find out what you want and then try to get it. Up to then
people had always tried to tinker up what they'd got. We've got
a great many of the things he thought of. Then "Wells" means
springs of clear water. It's a nice name, don't you think?'
Here Wells returned with strawberries and cakes and lemonade on a
tray, and everybody ate and enjoyed.
'Now, Wells,' said the lady, 'run off or you'll be late and not
meet your Daddy.'
Wells kissed her, waved to the others, and went.
'Look here,' said Anthea suddenly, 'would you like to come to OUR
country, and see what it's like? It wouldn't take you a minute.'
The lady laughed. But Jane held up the charm and said the word.
'What a splendid conjuring trick!' cried the lady, enchanted with
the beautiful, growing arch.
'Go through,' said Anthea.
The lady went, laughing. But she did not laugh when she found
herself, suddenly, in the dining-room at Fitzroy Street.
'Oh, what a HORRIBLE trick!' she cried. 'What a hateful, dark,
She ran to the window and looked out. The sky was grey, the
street was foggy, a dismal organ-grinder was standing opposite
the door, a beggar and a man who sold matches were quarrelling at
the edge of the pavement on whose greasy black surface people
hurried along, hastening to get to the shelter of their houses.
'Oh, look at their faces, their horrible faces!' she cried.
'What's the matter with them all?'
'They're poor people, that's all,' said Robert.
'But it's NOT all! They're ill, they're unhappy, they're wicked!
Oh, do stop it, there's dear children. It's very, very clever.
Some sort of magic-lantern trick, I suppose, like I've read of.
But DO stop it. Oh! their poor, tired, miserable, wicked faces!'
The tears were in her eyes. Anthea signed to Jane. The arch
grew, they spoke the words, and pushed the lady through it into
her own time and place, where London is clean and beautiful, and
the Thames runs clear and bright, and the green trees grow, and
no one is afraid, or anxious, or in a hurry. There was a
'I'm glad we went,' said Anthea, with a deep breath.
'I'll never throw paper about again as long as I live,' said
'Mother always told us not to,' said Jane.
'I would like to take up the Duties of Citizenship for a special
subject,' said Cyril. 'I wonder if Father could put me through
it. I shall ask him when he comes home.'
'If we'd found the Amulet, Father could be home NOW,' said
Anthea, 'and Mother and The Lamb.'
'Let's go into the future AGAIN,' suggested Jane brightly.
'Perhaps we could remember if it wasn't such an awful way off.'
So they did. This time they said, 'The future, where the Amulet
is, not so far away.'
And they went through the familiar arch into a large, light room
with three windows. Facing them was the familiar mummy-case.
And at a table by the window sat the learned gentleman. They
knew him at once, though his hair was white. He was one of the
faces that do not change with age. In his hand was the
Amulet--complete and perfect.
He rubbed his other hand across his forehead in the way they were
so used to.
'Dreams, dreams!' he said; 'old age is full of them!'
'You've been in dreams with us before now,' said Robert, 'don't
'I do, indeed,' said he. The room had many more books than the
Fitzroy Street room, and far more curious and wonderful Assyrian
and Egyptian objects. 'The most wonderful dreams I ever had had
you in them.'
'Where,' asked Cyril, 'did you get that thing in your hand?'
'If you weren't just a dream,' he answered, smiling, you'd
remember that you gave it to me.'
'But where did we get it?' Cyril asked eagerly.
'Ah, you never would tell me that,' he said, 'You always had your
little mysteries. You dear children! What a difference you made
to that old Bloomsbury house! I wish I could dream you oftener.
Now you're grown up you're not like you used to be.'
'Grown up?' said Anthea.
The learned gentleman pointed to a frame with four photographs in
'There you are,' he said.
The children saw four grown-up people's portraits--two ladies,
two gentlemen--and looked on them with loathing.
'Shall we grow up like THAT?' whispered Jane. 'How perfectly
'If we're ever like that, we sha'n't know it's horrid, I expect,'
Anthea with some insight whispered back. 'You see, you get used
to yourself while you're changing. It's--it's being so sudden
makes it seem so frightful now.'
The learned gentleman was looking at them with wistful kindness.
'Don't let me undream you just yet,' he said. There was a pause.
'Do you remember WHEN we gave you that Amulet?' Cyril asked
'You know, or you would if you weren't a dream, that it was on
the 3rd December, 1905. I shall never forget THAT day.'
'Thank you,' said Cyril, earnestly; 'oh, thank you very much.'
'You've got a new room,' said Anthea, looking out of the window,
'and what a lovely garden!'
'Yes,' said he, 'I'm too old now to care even about being near
the Museum. This is a beautiful place. Do you know--I can
hardly believe you're just a dream, you do look so exactly real.
Do you know ...' his voice dropped, 'I can say it to YOU,
though, of course, if I said it to anyone that wasn't a dream
they'd call me mad; there was something about that Amulet you
gave me--something very mysterious.'
'There was that,' said Robert.
'Ah, I don't mean your pretty little childish mysteries about
where you got it. But about the thing itself. First, the
wonderful dreams I used to have, after you'd shown me the first
half of it! Why, my book on Atlantis, that I did, was the
beginning of my fame and my fortune, too. And I got it all out
of a dream! And then, "Britain at the Time of the Roman
Invasion"--that was only a pamphlet, but it explained a lot of
things people hadn't understood.'
'Yes,' said Anthea, 'it would.'
'That was the beginning. But after you'd given me the whole of
the Amulet--ah, it was generous of you!--then, somehow, I didn't
need to theorize, I seemed to KNOW about the old Egyptian
civilization. And they can't upset my theories'--he rubbed his
thin hands and laughed triumphantly--'they can't, though they've
tried. Theories, they call them, but they're more like--I don't
know--more like memories. I KNOW I'm right about the secret
rites of the Temple of Amen.'
'I'm so glad you're rich,' said Anthea. 'You weren't, you know,
at Fitzroy Street.'
'Indeed I wasn't,' said he, 'but I am now. This beautiful house
and this lovely garden--I dig in it sometimes; you remember, you
used to tell me to take more exercise? Well, I feel I owe it all
to you--and the Amulet.'
'I'm so glad,' said Anthea, and kissed him. He started.
'THAT didn't feel like a dream,' he said, and his voice trembled.
'It isn't exactly a dream,' said Anthea softly, 'it's all part of
the Amulet--it's a sort of extra special, real dream, dear
'Ah,' said he, 'when you call me that, I know I'm dreaming. My
little sister--I dream of her sometimes. But it's not real like
this. Do you remember the day I dreamed you brought me the
'We remember it all,' said Robert. 'Did you leave Fitzroy Street
because you were too rich for it?'
'Oh, no!' he said reproachfully. 'You know I should never have
done such a thing as that. Of course, I left when your old Nurse
died and--what's the matter!'
'Old Nurse DEAD?' said Anthea. 'Oh, NO!'
'Yes, yes, it's the common lot. It's a long time ago now.'
Jane held up the Amulet in a hand that twittered.
'Come!' she cried, 'oh, come home! She may be dead before we get
there, and then we can't give it to her. Oh, come!'
'Ah, don't let the dream end now!' pleaded the learned gentleman.
'It must,' said Anthea firmly, and kissed him again.
'When it comes to people dying,' said Robert, 'good-bye! I'm so
glad you're rich and famous and happy.'
'DO come!' cried Jane, stamping in her agony of impatience. And
they went. Old Nurse brought in tea almost as soon as they were
back in Fitzroy Street. As she came in with the tray, the girls
rushed at her and nearly upset her and it.
'Don't die!' cried Jane, 'oh, don't!' and Anthea cried, 'Dear,
ducky, darling old Nurse, don't die!'
'Lord, love you!' said Nurse, 'I'm not agoin' to die yet a while,
please Heaven! Whatever on earth's the matter with the chicks?'
'Nothing. Only don't!'
She put the tray down and hugged the girls in turn. The boys
thumped her on the back with heartfelt affection.
'I'm as well as ever I was in my life,' she said. 'What nonsense
about dying! You've been a sitting too long in the dusk, that's
what it is. Regular blind man's holiday. Leave go of me, while
I light the gas.'
The yellow light illuminated four pale faces. 'We do love you
so,' Anthea went on, 'and we've made you a picture to show you
how we love you. Get it out, Squirrel.'
The glazed testimonial was dragged out from under the sofa and
'The glue's not dry yet,' said Cyril, 'look out!'
'What a beauty!' cried old Nurse. 'Well, I never! And your
pictures and the beautiful writing and all. Well, I always did
say your hearts was in the right place, if a bit careless at
times. Well! I never did! I don't know as I was ever pleased
better in my life.'
She hugged them all, one after the other. And the boys did not
mind it, somehow, that day.
'How is it we can remember all about the future, NOW?' Anthea
woke the Psammead with laborious gentleness to put the question.
'How is it we can remember what we saw in the future, and yet,
when we WERE in the future, we could not remember the bit of the
future that was past then, the time of finding the Amulet?'
'Why, what a silly question!' said the Psammead, 'of course you
cannot remember what hasn't happened yet.'
'But the FUTURE hasn't happened yet,' Anthea persisted, 'and we
remember that all right.'
'Oh, that isn't what's happened, my good child,' said the
Psammead, rather crossly, 'that's prophetic vision. And you
remember dreams, don't you? So why not visions? You never do
seem to understand the simplest thing.'
It went to sand again at once.
Anthea crept down in her nightgown to give one last kiss to old
Nurse, and one last look at the beautiful testimonial hanging, by
its tapes, its glue now firmly set, in glazed glory on the wall
of the kitchen.
'Good-night, bless your loving heart,' said old Nurse, 'if only
you don't catch your deather-cold!'