Part 5 out of 5
THE SHIPWRECK ON THE TIN ISLANDS
'Blue and red,' said Jane softly, 'make purple.'
'Not always they don't,' said Cyril, 'it has to be crimson lake
and Prussian blue. If you mix Vermilion and Indigo you get the
most loathsome slate colour.'
'Sepia's the nastiest colour in the box, I think,' said Jane,
sucking her brush.
They were all painting. Nurse in the flush of grateful emotion,
excited by Robert's border of poppies, had presented each of the
four with a shilling paint-box, and had supplemented the gift
with a pile of old copies of the Illustrated London News.
'Sepia,' said Cyril instructively, 'is made out of beastly
'Purple's made out of a fish, as well as out of red and blue,'
said Robert. 'Tyrian purple was, I know.'
'Out of lobsters?' said Jane dreamily. 'They're red when they're
boiled, and blue when they aren't. If you mixed live and dead
lobsters you'd get Tyrian purple.'
'_I_ shouldn't like to mix anything with a live lobster,' said
'Well, there aren't any other red and blue fish,' said Jane;
'you'd have to.'
'I'd rather not have the purple,' said Anthea.
'The Tyrian purple wasn't that colour when it came out of the
fish, nor yet afterwards, it wasn't,' said Robert; 'it was
scarlet really, and Roman Emperors wore it. And it wasn't any
nice colour while the fish had it. It was a yellowish-white
liquid of a creamy consistency.'
'How do you know?' asked Cyril.
'I read it,' said Robert, with the meek pride of superior
'Where?' asked Cyril.
'In print,' said Robert, still more proudly meek.
'You think everything's true if it's printed,' said Cyril,
naturally annoyed, 'but it isn't. Father said so. Quite a lot
of lies get printed, especially in newspapers.'
'You see, as it happens,' said Robert, in what was really a
rather annoying tone, 'it wasn't a newspaper, it was in a book.'
'How sweet Chinese white is!' said Jane, dreamily sucking her
'I don't believe it,' said Cyril to Robert.
'Have a suck yourself,' suggested Robert.
'I don't mean about the Chinese white. I mean about the cream
fish turning purple and--"
'Oh!' cried Anthea, jumping up very quickly, 'I'm tired of
painting. Let's go somewhere by Amulet. I say let's let IT
Cyril and Robert agreed that this was an idea. Jane consented to
stop painting because, as she said, Chinese white, though
certainly sweet, gives you a queer feeling in the back of the
throat if you paint with it too long.
The Amulet was held up. 'Take us somewhere,' said Jane,
'anywhere you like in the Past--but somewhere where you are.'
Then she said the word.
Next moment everyone felt a queer rocking and swaying--something
like what you feel when you go out in a fishing boat. And that
was not wonderful, when you come to think of it, for it was in a
boat that they found themselves. A queer boat, with high
bulwarks pierced with holes for oars to go through. There was a
high seat for the steersman, and the prow was shaped like the
head of some great animal with big, staring eyes. The boat rode
at anchor in a bay, and the bay was very smooth. The crew were
dark, wiry fellows with black beards and hair. They had no
clothes except a tunic from waist to knee, and round caps with
knobs on the top. They were very busy, and what they were doing
was so interesting to the children that at first they did not
even wonder where the Amulet had brought them. And the crew
seemed too busy to notice the children. They were fastening rush
baskets to a long rope with a great piece of cork at the end, and
in each basket they put mussels or little frogs. Then they cast
out the rope, the baskets sank, but the cork floated. And all
about on the blue water were other boats and all the crews of all
the boats were busy with ropes and baskets and frogs and mussels.
'Whatever are you doing?' Jane suddenly asked a man who had
rather more clothes than the others, and seemed to be a sort of
captain or overseer. He started and stared at her, but he had
seen too many strange lands to be very much surprised at these
'Setting lines for the dye shell-fish,' he said shortly. 'How
did you get here?'
'A sort of magic,' said Robert carelessly. The Captain fingered
an Amulet that hung round his neck.
'What is this place?' asked Cyril.
'Tyre, of course,' said the man. Then he drew back and spoke in
a low voice to one of the sailors.
'Now we shall know about your precious cream-jug fish,' said
'But we never SAID come to Tyre,' said Jane.
'The Amulet heard us talking, I expect. I think it's MOST
obliging of it,' said Anthea.
'And the Amulet's here too,' said Robert. 'We ought to be able
to find it in a little ship like this. I wonder which of them's
'Oh--look, look!' cried Anthea suddenly. On the bare breast of
one of the sailors gleamed something red. It was the exact
counterpart of their precious half-Amulet.
A silence, full of emotion, was broken by Jane.
'Then we've found it!' she said. 'Oh do let's take it and go
'Easy to say "take it",' said Cyril; 'he looks very strong.'
He did--yet not so strong as the other sailors.
'It's odd,' said Anthea musingly, 'I do believe I've seen that
man somewhere before.'
'He's rather like our learned gentleman,' said Robert, 'but I'll
tell you who he's much more like--' At that moment that sailor
looked up. His eyes met Robert's--and Robert and the others had
no longer any doubt as to where they had seen him before. It was
Rekh-mara, the priest who had led them to the palace of
Pharaoh--and whom Jane had looked back at through the arch, when
he was counselling Pharaoh's guard to take the jewels and fly for
Nobody was quite pleased, and nobody quite knew why.
Jane voiced the feelings of all when she said, fingering THEIR
Amulet through the folds of her frock, 'We can go back in a
minute if anything nasty happens.'
For the moment nothing worse happened than an offer of food--figs
and cucumbers it was, and very pleasant.
'I see,' said the Captain, 'that you are from a far country.
Since you have honoured my boat by appearing on it, you must stay
here till morning. Then I will lead you to one of our great
ones. He loves strangers from far lands.'
'Let's go home,' Jane whispered, 'all the frogs are drowning NOW.
I think the people here are cruel.'
But the boys wanted to stay and see the lines taken up in the
'It's just like eel-pots and lobster-pots,' said Cyril, 'the
baskets only open from outside--I vote we stay.'
So they stayed.
'That's Tyre over there,' said the Captain, who was evidently
trying to be civil. He pointed to a great island rock, that rose
steeply from the sea, crowned with huge walls and towers. There
was another city on the mainland.
'That's part of Tyre, too,' said the Captain; 'it's where the
great merchants have their pleasure-houses and gardens and
'Look, look!' Cyril cried suddenly; 'what a lovely little ship!'
A ship in full sail was passing swiftly through the fishing
fleet. The Captain's face changed. He frowned, and his eyes
blazed with fury.
'Insolent young barbarian!' he cried. 'Do you call the ships of
Tyre LITTLE? None greater sail the seas. That ship has been on
a three years' voyage. She is known in all the great trading
ports from here to the Tin Islands. She comes back rich and
glorious. Her very anchor is of silver.'
'I'm sure we beg your pardon,' said Anthea hastily. 'In our
country we say "little" for a pet name. Your wife might call you
her dear little husband, you know.'
'I should like to catch her at it,' growled the Captain, but he
'It's a rich trade,' he went on. 'For cloth ONCE dipped,
second-best glass, and the rough images our young artists carve
for practice, the barbarian King in Tessos lets us work the
silver mines. We get so much silver there that we leave them our
iron anchors and come back with silver ones.'
'How splendid!' said Robert. 'Do go on. What's cloth once
'You MUST be barbarians from the outer darkness,' said the
Captain scornfully. 'All wealthy nations know that our finest
stuffs are twice dyed--dibaptha. They're only for the robes of
kings and priests and princes.'
'What do the rich merchants wear,' asked Jane, with interest, 'in
'They wear the dibaptha. OUR merchants ARE princes,' scowled the
'Oh, don't be cross, we do so like hearing about things. We want
to know ALL about the dyeing,' said Anthea cordially.
'Oh, you do, do you?' growled the man. 'So that's what you're
here for? Well, you won't get the secrets of the dye trade out
He went away, and everyone felt snubbed and uncomfortable. And
all the time the long, narrow eyes of the Egyptian were watching,
watching. They felt as though he was watching them through the
darkness, when they lay down to sleep on a pile of cloaks.
Next morning the baskets were drawn up full of what looked like
The children were rather in the way, but they made themselves as
small as they could. While the skipper was at the other end of
the boat they did ask one question of a sailor, whose face was a
little less unkind than the others.
'Yes,' he answered, 'this is the dye-fish. It's a sort of
murex--and there's another kind that they catch at Sidon and
then, of course, there's the kind that's used for the dibaptha.
But that's quite different. It's--'
'Hold your tongue!' shouted the skipper. And the man held it.
The laden boat was rowed slowly round the end of the island, and
was made fast in one of the two great harbours that lay inside a
long breakwater. The harbour was full of all sorts of ships, so
that Cyril and Robert enjoyed themselves much more than their
sisters. The breakwater and the quays were heaped with bales and
baskets, and crowded with slaves and sailors. Farther along some
men were practising diving.
'That's jolly good,' said Robert, as a naked brown body cleft the
'I should think so,' said the skipper. 'The pearl-divers of
Persia are not more skilful. Why, we've got a fresh-water spring
that comes out at the bottom of the sea. Our divers dive down
and bring up the fresh water in skin bottles! Can your barbarian
divers do as much?'
'I suppose not,' said Robert, and put away a wild desire to
explain to the Captain the English system of waterworks, pipes,
taps, and the intricacies of the plumbers' trade.
As they neared the quay the skipper made a hasty toilet. He did
his hair, combed his beard, put on a garment like a jersey with
short sleeves, an embroidered belt, a necklace of beads, and a
big signet ring.
'Now,' said he, 'I'm fit to be seen. Come along?'
'Where to?' said Jane cautiously.
'To Pheles, the great sea-captain, said the skipper, 'the man I
told you of, who loves barbarians.'
Then Rekh-mara came forward, and, for the first time, spoke.
'I have known these children in another land,' he said. 'You
know my powers of magic. It was my magic that brought these
barbarians to your boat. And you know how they will profit you.
I read your thoughts. Let me come with you and see the end of
them, and then I will work the spell I promised you in return for
the little experience you have so kindly given me on your boat.'
The skipper looked at the Egyptian with some disfavour.
'So it was YOUR doing,' he said. 'I might have guessed it.
Well, come on.'
So he came, and the girls wished he hadn't. But Robert
'Nonsense--as long as he's with us we've got some chance of the
Amulet. We can always fly if anything goes wrong.'
The morning was so fresh and bright; their breakfast had been so
good and so unusual; they had actually seen the Amulet round the
Egyptian's neck. One or two, or all these things, suddenly
raised the children's spirits. They went off quite cheerfully
through the city gate--it was not arched, but roofed over with a
great flat stone--and so through the street, which smelt horribly
of fish and garlic and a thousand other things even less
agreeable. But far worse than the street scents was the scent of
the factory, where the skipper called in to sell his night's
catch. I wish I could tell you all about that factory, but I
haven't time, and perhaps after all you aren't interested in
dyeing works. I will only mention that Robert was triumphantly
proved to be right. The dye WAS a yellowish-white liquid of a
creamy consistency, and it smelt more strongly of garlic than
garlic itself does.
While the skipper was bargaining with the master of the dye works
the Egyptian came close to the children, and said, suddenly and
'I wish we could,' said Anthea.
'You feel,' said the Egyptian, 'that I want your Amulet. That
makes you distrust me.'
'Yes,' said Cyril bluntly.
'But you also, you want my Amulet, and I am trusting you.'
'There's something in that,' said Robert.
'We have the two halves of the Amulet,' said the Priest, 'but not
yet the pin that joined them. Our only chance of getting that is
to remain together. Once part these two halves and they may
never be found in the same time and place. Be wise. Our
interests are the same.'
Before anyone could say more the skipper came back, and with him
the dye-master. His hair and beard were curled like the men's in
Babylon, and he was dressed like the skipper, but with added
grandeur of gold and embroidery. He had necklaces of beads and
silver, and a glass amulet with a man's face, very like his own,
set between two bull's heads, as well as gold and silver
bracelets and armlets. He looked keenly at the children. Then
'My brother Pheles has just come back from Tarshish. He's at his
garden house--unless he's hunting wild boar in the marshes. He
gets frightfully bored on shore.'
'Ah,' said the skipper, 'he's a true-born Phoenician. "Tyre,
Tyre for ever! Oh, Tyre rules the waves!" as the old song says.
I'll go at once, and show him my young barbarians.'
'I should,' said the dye-master. 'They are very rum, aren't
they? What frightful clothes, and what a lot of them! Observe
the covering of their feet. Hideous indeed.'
Robert could not help thinking how easy, and at the same time
pleasant, it would be to catch hold of the dye-master's feet and
tip him backward into the great sunken vat just near him. But if
he had, flight would have had to be the next move, so he
restrained his impulse.
There was something about this Tyrian adventure that was
different from all the others. It was, somehow, calmer. And
there was the undoubted fact that the charm was there on the neck
of the Egyptian.
So they enjoyed everything to the full, the row from the Island
City to the shore, the ride on the donkeys that the skipper hired
at the gate of the mainland city, and the pleasant country--palms
and figs and cedars all about. It was like a garden--clematis,
honeysuckle, and jasmine clung about the olive and mulberry
trees, and there were tulips and gladiolus, and clumps of
mandrake, which has bell-flowers that look as though they were
cut out of dark blue jewels. In the distance were the mountains
of Lebanon. The house they came to at last was rather like a
bungalow--long and low, with pillars all along the front. Cedars
and sycamores grew near it and sheltered it pleasantly.
Everyone dismounted, and the donkeys were led away.
'Why is this like Rosherville?' whispered Robert, and instantly
supplied the answer.
'Because it's the place to spend a happy day.'
'It's jolly decent of the skipper to have brought us to such a
ripping place,' said Cyril.
'Do you know,' said Anthea, 'this feels more real than anything
else we've seen? It's like a holiday in the country at home.'
The children were left alone in a large hall. The floor was
mosaic, done with wonderful pictures of ships and sea-beasts and
fishes. Through an open doorway they could see a pleasant
courtyard with flowers.
'I should like to spend a week here,' said Jane, 'and donkey ride
Everyone was feeling very jolly. Even the Egyptian looked
pleasanter than usual. And then, quite suddenly, the skipper
came back with a joyous smile. With him came the master of the
house. He looked steadily at the children and nodded twice.
'Yes,' he said, 'my steward will pay you the price. But I shall
not pay at that high rate for the Egyptian dog.'
The two passed on.
'This,' said the Egyptian, 'is a pretty kettle of fish.'
'What is?' asked all the children at once.
'Our present position,' said Rekh-mara. 'Our seafaring friend,'
he added, 'has sold us all for slaves!'
A hasty council succeeded the shock of this announcement. The
Priest was allowed to take part in it. His advice was 'stay',
because they were in no danger, and the Amulet in its
completeness must be somewhere near, or, of course, they could
not have come to that place at all. And after some discussion
they agreed to this.
The children were treated more as guests than as slaves, but the
Egyptian was sent to the kitchen and made to work.
Pheles, the master of the house, went off that very evening, by
the King's orders, to start on another voyage. And when he was
gone his wife found the children amusing company, and kept them
talking and singing and dancing till quite late. 'To distract my
mind from my sorrows,' she said.
'I do like being a slave,' remarked Jane cheerfully, as they
curled up on the big, soft cushions that were to be their beds.
It was black night when they were awakened, each by a hand passed
softly over its face, and a low voice that whispered--
'Be quiet, or all is lost.'
So they were quiet.
'It's me, Rekh-mara, the Priest of Amen,' said the whisperer.
'The man who brought us has gone to sea again, and he has taken
my Amulet from me by force, and I know no magic to get it back.
Is there magic for that in the Amulet you bear?'
Everyone was instantly awake by now.
'We can go after him,' said Cyril, leaping up; 'but he might take
OURS as well; or he might be angry with us for following him.'
'I'll see to THAT,' said the Egyptian in the dark. 'Hide your
There in the deep blackness of that room in the Tyrian country
house the Amulet was once more held up and the word spoken.
All passed through on to a ship that tossed and tumbled on a
wind-blown sea. They crouched together there till morning, and
Jane and Cyril were not at all well. When the dawn showed,
dove-coloured, across the steely waves, they stood up as well as
they could for the tumbling of the ship. Pheles, that hardy
sailor and adventurer, turned quite pale when he turned round
suddenly and saw them.
'Well!' he said, 'well, I never did!'
'Master,' said the Egyptian, bowing low, and that was even more
difficult than standing up, 'we are here by the magic of the
sacred Amulet that hangs round your neck.'
'I never did!' repeated Pheles. 'Well, well!'
'What port is the ship bound for?' asked Robert, with a nautical
But Pheles said, 'Are you a navigator?' Robert had to own that
he was not.
'Then,' said Pheles, 'I don't mind telling you that we're bound
for the Tin Isles. Tyre alone knows where the Tin Isles are. It
is a splendid secret we keep from all the world. It is as great
a thing to us as your magic to you.'
He spoke in quite a new voice, and seemed to respect both the
children and the Amulet a good deal more than he had done before.
'The King sent you, didn't he?' said Jane.
'Yes,' answered Pheles, 'he bade me set sail with half a score
brave gentlemen and this crew. You shall go with us, and see
many wonders.' He bowed and left them.
'What are we going to do now?' said Robert, when Pheles had
caused them to be left along with a breakfast of dried fruits and
a sort of hard biscuit.
'Wait till he lands in the Tin Isles,' said Rekh-mara, 'then we
can get the barbarians to help us. We will attack him by night
and tear the sacred Amulet from his accursed heathen neck,' he
added, grinding his teeth.
'When shall we get to the Tin Isles?' asked Jane.
'Oh--six months, perhaps, or a year,' said the Egyptian
'A year of THIS?' cried Jane, and Cyril, who was still feeling
far too unwell to care about breakfast, hugged himself miserably
and shuddered. It was Robert who said--
'Look here, we can shorten that year. Jane, out with the Amulet!
Wish that we were where the Amulet will be when the ship is
twenty miles from the Tin Island. That'll give us time to mature
It was done--the work of a moment--and there they were on the
same ship, between grey northern sky and grey northern sea. The
sun was setting in a pale yellow line. It was the same ship, but
it was changed, and so were the crew. Weather-worn and dirty
were the sailors, and their clothes torn and ragged. And the
children saw that, of course, though they had skipped the nine
months, the ship had had to live through them. Pheles looked
thinner, and his face was rugged and anxious.
'Ha!' he cried, 'the charm has brought you back! I have prayed
to it daily these nine months--and now you are here? Have you no
magic that can help?'
'What is your need?' asked the Egyptian quietly.
'I need a great wave that shall whelm away the foreign ship that
follows us. A month ago it lay in wait for us, by the pillars of
the gods, and it follows, follows, to find out the secret of
Tyre--the place of the Tin Islands. If I could steer by night I
could escape them yet, but tonight there will be no stars.'
'My magic will not serve you here,' said the Egyptian.
But Robert said, 'My magic will not bring up great waves, but I
can show you how to steer without stars.'
He took out the shilling compass, still, fortunately, in working
order, that he had bought off another boy at school for
fivepence, a piece of indiarubber, a strip of whalebone, and half
a stick of red sealing-wax.
And he showed Pheles how it worked. And Pheles wondered at the
compass's magic truth.
'I will give it to you,' Robert said, 'in return for that charm
about your neck.'
Pheles made no answer. He first laughed, snatched the compass
from Robert's hand, and turned away still laughing.
'Be comforted,' the Priest whispered, 'our time will come.'
The dusk deepened, and Pheles, crouched beside a dim lantern,
steered by the shilling compass from the Crystal Palace.
No one ever knew how the other ship sailed, but suddenly, in the
deep night, the look-out man at the stern cried out in a terrible
'She is close upon us!'
'And we,' said Pheles, 'are close to the harbour.' He was silent
a moment, then suddenly he altered the ship's course, and then he
stood up and spoke.
'Good friends and gentlemen,' he said, 'who are bound with me in
this brave venture by our King's command, the false, foreign ship
is close on our heels. If we land, they land, and only the gods
know whether they might not beat us in fight, and themselves
survive to carry back the tale of Tyre's secret island to enrich
their own miserable land. Shall this be?'
'Never!' cried the half-dozen men near him. The slaves were
rowing hard below and could not hear his words.
The Egyptian leaped upon him; suddenly, fiercely, as a wild beast
leaps. 'Give me back my Amulet,' he cried, and caught at the
charm. The chain that held it snapped, and it lay in the
Pheles laughed, standing balanced to the leap of the ship that
answered the oarstroke.
'This is no time for charms and mummeries,' he said. 'We've
lived like men, and we'll die like gentlemen for the honour and
glory of Tyre, our splendid city. "Tyre, Tyre for ever! It's
Tyre that rules the waves." I steer her straight for the Dragon
rocks, and we go down for our city, as brave men should. The
creeping cowards who follow shall go down as slaves--and slaves
they shall be to us--when we live again. Tyre, Tyre for ever!'
A great shout went up, and the slaves below joined in it.
'Quick, the Amulet,' cried Anthea, and held it up. Rekh-mara
held up the one he had snatched from Pheles. The word was
spoken, and the two great arches grew on the plunging ship in the
shrieking wind under the dark sky. From each Amulet a great and
beautiful green light streamed and shone far out over the waves.
It illuminated, too, the black faces and jagged teeth of the
great rocks that lay not two ships' lengths from the boat's
'Tyre, Tyre for ever! It's Tyre that rules the waves!' the
voices of the doomed rose in a triumphant shout. The children
scrambled through the arch, and stood trembling and blinking in
the Fitzroy Street parlour, and in their ears still sounded the
whistle of the wind, and the rattle of the oars, the crash of the
ships bow on the rocks, and the last shout of the brave
gentlemen-adventurers who went to their deaths singing, for the
sake of the city they loved.
'And so we've lost the other half of the Amulet again,' said
Anthea, when they had told the Psammead all about it.
'Nonsense, pooh!' said the Psammead. 'That wasn't the other
half. It was the same half that you've got--the one that wasn't
crushed and lost.'
'But how could it be the same?' said Anthea gently.
'Well, not exactly, of course. The one you've got is a good many
years older, but at any rate it's not the other one. What did
you say when you wished?'
'I forget,' said Jane.
'I don't,' said the Psammead. 'You said, "Take us where YOU
are"--and it did, so you see it was the same half.'
'I see,' said Anthea.
'But you mark my words,' the Psammead went on, 'you'll have
trouble with that Priest yet.'
'Why, he was quite friendly,' said Anthea.
'All the same you'd better beware of the Reverend Rekh-mara.'
'Oh, I'm sick of the Amulet,' said Cyril, 'we shall never get
'Oh yes we shall,' said Robert. 'Don't you remember December
'Jinks!' said Cyril, 'I'd forgotten that.'
'I don't believe it,' said Jane, 'and I don't feel at all well.'
'If I were you,' said the Psammead, 'I should not go out into the
Past again till that date. You'll find it safer not to go where
you're likely to meet that Egyptian any more just at present.'
'Of course we'll do as you say,' said Anthea soothingly, 'though
there's something about his face that I really do like.'
'Still, you don't want to run after him, I suppose,' snapped the
Psammead. 'You wait till the 3rd, and then see what happens.'
Cyril and Jane were feeling far from well, Anthea was always
obliging, so Robert was overruled. And they promised. And none
of them, not even the Psammead, at all foresaw, as you no doubt
do quite plainly, exactly what it was that WOULD happen on that
THE HEART'S DESIRE
If I only had time I could tell you lots of things. For
instance, how, in spite of the advice of the Psammead, the four
children did, one very wet day, go through their Amulet Arch into
the golden desert, and there find the great Temple of Baalbec and
meet with the Phoenix whom they never thought to see again. And
how the Phoenix did not remember them at all until it went into a
sort of prophetic trance--if that can be called remembering.
But, alas! I HAVEN'T time, so I must leave all that out though it
was a wonderfully thrilling adventure. I must leave out, too,
all about the visit of the children to the Hippodrome with the
Psammead in its travelling bag, and about how the wishes of the
people round about them were granted so suddenly and surprisingly
that at last the Psammead had to be taken hurriedly home by
Anthea, who consequently missed half the performance. Then there
was the time when, Nurse having gone to tea with a friend out
Ivalunk way, they were playing 'devil in the dark'--and in the
midst of that most creepy pastime the postman's knock frightened
Jane nearly out of her life. She took in the letters, however,
and put them in the back of the hat-stand drawer, so that they
should be safe. And safe they were, for she never thought of
them again for weeks and weeks.
One really good thing happened when they took the Psammead to a
magic-lantern show and lecture at the boys' school at Camden
Town. The lecture was all about our soldiers in South Africa.
And the lecturer ended up by saying, 'And I hope every boy in
this room has in his heart the seeds of courage and heroism and
self-sacrifice, and I wish that every one of you may grow up to
be noble and brave and unselfish, worthy citizens of this great
Empire for whom our soldiers have freely given their lives.'
And, of course, this came true--which was a distinct score for
As Anthea said, it was unlucky that the lecturer said boys,
because now she and Jane would have to be noble and unselfish, if
at all, without any outside help. But Jane said, 'I daresay we
are already because of our beautiful natures. It's only boys
that have to be made brave by magic'--which nearly led to a
And I daresay you would like to know all about the affair of the
fishing rod, and the fish-hooks, and the cook next door--which
was amusing from some points of view, though not perhaps the
cook's--but there really is no time even for that.
The only thing that there's time to tell about is the Adventure
of Maskelyne and Cooke's, and the Unexpected Apparition--which is
also the beginning of the end.
It was Nurse who broke into the gloomy music of the autumn rain
on the window panes by suggesting a visit to the Egyptian Hall,
England's Home of Mystery. Though they had good, but private
reasons to know that their own particular personal mystery was of
a very different brand, the four all brightened at the idea. All
children, as well as a good many grown-ups, love conjuring.
'It's in Piccadilly,' said old Nurse, carefully counting out the
proper number of shillings into Cyril's hand, 'not so very far
down on the left from the Circus. There's big pillars outside,
something like Carter's seed place in Holborn, as used to be Day
and Martin's blacking when I was a gell. And something like
Euston Station, only not so big.'
'Yes, I know,' said everybody.
So they started.
But though they walked along the left-hand side of Piccadilly
they saw no pillared building that was at all like Carter's seed
warehouse or Euston Station or England's Home of Mystery as they
At last they stopped a hurried lady, and asked her the way to
Maskelyne and Cooke's.
'I don't know, I'm sure,' she said, pushing past them. 'I always
shop at the Stores.' Which just shows, as Jane said, how
ignorant grown-up people are.
It was a policeman who at last explained to them that England's
Mysteries are now appropriately enough enacted at St George's
So they tramped to Langham Place, and missed the first two items
in the programme. But they were in time for the most wonderful
magic appearances and disappearances, which they could hardly
believe--even with all their knowledge of a larger magic--was not
really magic after all.
'If only the Babylonians could have seen THIS conjuring,'
whispered Cyril. 'It takes the shine out of their old conjurer,
'Hush!' said Anthea and several other members of the audience.
Now there was a vacant seat next to Robert. And it was when all
eyes were fixed on the stage where Mr Devant was pouring out
glasses of all sorts of different things to drink, out of one
kettle with one spout, and the audience were delightedly tasting
them, that Robert felt someone in that vacant seat. He did not
feel someone sit down in it. It was just that one moment there
was no one sitting there, and the next moment, suddenly, there
Robert turned. The someone who had suddenly filled that empty
place was Rekh-mara, the Priest of Amen!
Though the eyes of the audience were fixed on Mr David Devant, Mr
David Devant's eyes were fixed on the audience. And it happened
that his eyes were more particularly fixed on that empty chair.
So that he saw quite plainly the sudden appearance, from nowhere,
of the Egyptian Priest.
'A jolly good trick,' he said to himself, 'and worked under my
own eyes, in my own hall. I'll find out how that's done.' He
had never seen a trick that he could not do himself if he tried.
By this time a good many eyes in the audience had turned on the
clean-shaven, curiously-dressed figure of the Egyptian Priest.
'Ladies and gentlemen,' said Mr Devant, rising to the occasion,
'this is a trick I have never before performed. The empty seat,
third from the end, second row, gallery--you will now find
occupied by an Ancient Egyptian, warranted genuine.'
He little knew how true his words were.
And now all eyes were turned on the Priest and the children, and
the whole audience, after a moment's breathless surprise, shouted
applause. Only the lady on the other side of Rekh-mara drew back
a little. She KNEW no one had passed her, and, as she said
later, over tea and cold tongue, 'it was that sudden it made her
Rekh-mara seemed very much annoyed at the notice he was exciting.
'Come out of this crowd,' he whispered to Robert. 'I must talk
with you apart.'
'Oh, no,' Jane whispered. 'I did so want to see the Mascot Moth,
and the Ventriloquist.'
'How did you get here?' was Robert's return whisper.
'How did you get to Egypt and to Tyre?' retorted Rekh-mara.
'Come, let us leave this crowd.'
'There's no help for it, I suppose,' Robert shrugged angrily.
But they all got up.
'Confederates!' said a man in the row behind. 'Now they go round
to the back and take part in the next scene.'
'I wish we did,' said Robert.
'Confederate yourself!' said Cyril. And so they got away, the
audience applauding to the last.
In the vestibule of St George's Hall they disguised Rekh-mara as
well as they could, but even with Robert's hat and Cyril's
Inverness cape he was too striking a figure for foot-exercise in
the London streets. It had to be a cab, and it took the last,
least money of all of them. They stopped the cab a few doors
from home, and then the girls went in and engaged old Nurse's
attention by an account of the conjuring and a fervent entreaty
for dripping-toast with their tea, leaving the front door open so
that while Nurse was talking to them the boys could creep quietly
in with Rekh-mara and smuggle him, unseen, up the stairs into
When the girls came up they found the Egyptian Priest sitting on
the side of Cyril's bed, his hands on his knees, looking like a
statue of a king.
'Come on,' said Cyril impatiently. 'He won't begin till we're
all here. And shut the door, can't you?'
When the door was shut the Egyptian said--
'My interests and yours are one.'
'Very interesting,' said Cyril, 'and it'll be a jolly sight more
interesting if you keep following us about in a decent country
with no more clothes on than THAT!'
'Peace,' said the Priest. 'What is this country? and what is
'The country's England,' said Anthea, 'and the time's about 6,000
years later than YOUR time.'
'The Amulet, then,' said the Priest, deeply thoughtful, 'gives
the power to move to and fro in time as well as in space?'
'That's about it,' said Cyril gruffly. 'Look here, it'll be
tea-time directly. What are we to do with you?'
'You have one-half of the Amulet, I the other,' said Rekh-mara.
'All that is now needed is the pin to join them.'
'Don't you think it,' said Robert. 'The half you've got is the
same half as the one we've got.'
'But the same thing cannot be in the same place and the same
time, and yet be not one, but twain,' said the Priest. 'See,
here is my half.' He laid it on the Marcella counterpane.
'Where is yours?'
Jane watching the eyes of the others, unfastened the string of
the Amulet and laid it on the bed, but too far off for the Priest
to seize it, even if he had been so dishonourable. Cyril and
Robert stood beside him, ready to spring on him if one of his
hands had moved but ever so little towards the magic treasure
that was theirs. But his hands did not move, only his eyes
opened very wide, and so did everyone else's for the Amulet the
Priest had now quivered and shook; and then, as steel is drawn to
the magnet, it was drawn across the white counterpane, nearer and
nearer to the Amulet, warm from the neck of Jane. And then, as
one drop of water mingles with another on a rain-wrinkled
window-pane, as one bead of quick-silver is drawn into another
bead, Rekh-mara's Amulet slipped into the other one, and, behold!
there was no more but the one Amulet!
'Black magic!' cried Rekh-mara, and sprang forward to snatch the
Amulet that had swallowed his. But Anthea caught it up, and at
the same moment the Priest was jerked back by a rope thrown over
his head. It drew, tightened with the pull of his forward leap,
and bound his elbows to his sides. Before he had time to use his
strength to free himself, Robert had knotted the cord behind him
and tied it to the bedpost. Then the four children, overcoming
the priest's wrigglings and kickings, tied his legs with more
'I thought,' said Robert, breathing hard, and drawing the last
knot tight, 'he'd have a try for OURS, so I got the ropes out of
the box-room, so as to be ready.'
The girls, with rather white faces, applauded his foresight.
'Loosen these bonds!' cried Rekh-mara in fury, 'before I blast
you with the seven secret curses of Amen-Ra!'
'We shouldn't be likely to loose them AFTER,' Robert retorted.
'Oh, don't quarrel!' said Anthea desperately. 'Look here, he has
just as much right to the thing as we have. This,' she took up
the Amulet that had swallowed the other one, 'this has got his in
it as well as being ours. Let's go shares.'
'Let me go!' cried the Priest, writhing.
'Now, look here,' said Robert, 'if you make a row we can just
open that window and call the police--the guards, you know--and
tell them you've been trying to rob us. NOW will you shut up and
listen to reason?'
'I suppose so,' said Rekh-mara sulkily.
But reason could not be spoken to him till a whispered counsel
had been held in the far corner by the washhand-stand and the
towel-horse, a counsel rather long and very earnest.
At last Anthea detached herself from the group, and went back to
'Look here,' she said in her kind little voice, 'we want to be
friends. We want to help you. Let's make a treaty. Let's join
together to get the Amulet--the whole one, I mean. And then it
shall belong to you as much as to us, and we shall all get our
'Fair words,' said the Priest, 'grow no onions.'
'WE say, "Butter no parsnips",' Jane put in. 'But don't you see
we WANT to be fair? Only we want to bind you in the chains of
honour and upright dealing.'
'Will you deal fairly by us?' said Robert.
'I will,' said the Priest. 'By the sacred, secret name that is
written under the Altar of Amen-Ra, I will deal fairly by you.
Will you, too, take the oath of honourable partnership?'
'No,' said Anthea, on the instant, and added rather rashly. 'We
don't swear in England, except in police courts, where the guards
are, you know, and you don't want to go there. But when we SAY
we'll do a thing--it's the same as an oath to us--we do it. You
trust us, and we'll trust you.' She began to unbind his legs,
and the boys hastened to untie his arms.
When he was free he stood up, stretched his arms, and laughed.
'Now,' he said, 'I am stronger than you and my oath is void. I
have sworn by nothing, and my oath is nothing likewise. For
there IS no secret, sacred name under the altar of Amen-Ra.'
'Oh, yes there is!' said a voice from under the bed. Everyone
started--Rekh-mara most of all.
Cyril stooped and pulled out the bath of sand where the Psammead
slept. 'You don't know everything, though you ARE a Divine Father
of the Temple of Amen,' said the Psammead shaking itself till the
sand fell tinkling on the bath edge. 'There IS a secret, sacred
name beneath the altar of Amen-Ra. Shall I call on that name?'
'No, no!' cried the Priest in terror.
'No,' said Jane, too. 'Don't let's have any calling names.'
'Besides,' said Rekh-mara, who had turned very white indeed under
his natural brownness, 'I was only going to say that though there
isn't any name under--'
'There IS,' said the Psammead threateningly.
'Well, even if there WASN'T, I will be bound by the wordless oath
of your strangely upright land, and having said that I will be
your friend--I will be it.'
'Then that's all right,' said the Psammead; 'and there's the
tea-bell. What are you going to do with your distinguished
partner? He can't go down to tea like that, you know.'
'You see we can't do anything till the 3rd of December,' said
Anthea, 'that's when we are to find the whole charm. What can we
do with Rekh-mara till then?'
'Box-room,' said Cyril briefly, 'and smuggle up his meals. It
will be rather fun.'
'Like a fleeing Cavalier concealed from exasperated Roundheads,'
said Robert. 'Yes.'
So Rekh-mara was taken up to the box-room and made as comfortable
as possible in a snug nook between an old nursery fender and the
wreck of a big four-poster. They gave him a big rag-bag to sit
on, and an old, moth-eaten fur coat off the nail on the door to
keep him warm. And when they had had their own tea they took him
some. He did not like the tea at all, but he liked the bread and
butter, and cake that went with it. They took it in turns to sit
with him during the evening, and left him fairly happy and quite
settled for the night.
But when they went up in the morning with a kipper, a quarter of
which each of them had gone without at breakfast, Rekh-mara was
gone! There was the cosy corner with the rag-bag, and the
moth-eaten fur coat--but the cosy corner was empty.
'Good riddance!' was naturally the first delightful thought in
each mind. The second was less pleasing, because everyone at
once remembered that since his Amulet had been swallowed up by
theirs--which hung once more round the neck of Jane--he could
have no possible means of returning to his Egyptian past.
Therefore he must be still in England, and probably somewhere
quite near them, plotting mischief.
The attic was searched, to prevent mistakes, but quite vainly.
'The best thing we can do,' said Cyril, 'is to go through the
half Amulet straight away, get the whole Amulet, and come back.'
'I don't know,' Anthea hesitated. 'Would that be quite fair?
Perhaps he isn't really a base deceiver. Perhaps something's
happened to him.'
'Happened?' said Cyril, 'not it! Besides, what COULD happen?'
'I don't know,' said Anthea. 'Perhaps burglars came in the
night, and accidentally killed him, and took away the--all that
was mortal of him, you know--to avoid discovery.'
'Or perhaps,' said Cyril, 'they hid the--all that was mortal, in
one of those big trunks in the box-room. SHALL WE GO BACK AND
LOOK?' he added grimly.
'No, no!' Jane shuddered. 'Let's go and tell the Psammead and
see what it says.'
'No,' said Anthea, 'let's ask the learned gentleman. If anything
has happened to Rekh-mara a gentleman's advice would be more
useful than a Psammead's. And the learned gentleman'll only
think it's a dream, like he always does.'
They tapped at the door, and on the 'Come in' entered. The
learned gentleman was sitting in front of his untasted breakfast.
Opposite him, in the easy chair, sat Rekh-mara!
'Hush!' said the learned gentleman very earnestly, 'please, hush!
or the dream will go. I am learning ... Oh, what have I not
learned in the last hour!'
'In the grey dawn,' said the Priest, 'I left my hiding-place, and
finding myself among these treasures from my own country, I
remained. I feel more at home here somehow.'
'Of course I know it's a dream,' said the learned gentleman
feverishly, 'but, oh, ye gods! what a dream! By jove! ...'
'Call not upon the gods,' said the Priest, 'lest ye raise greater
ones than ye can control. Already,' he explained to the
children, 'he and I are as brothers, and his welfare is dear to
me as my own.'
'He has told me,' the learned gentleman began, but Robert
interrupted. This was no moment for manners.
'Have you told him,' he asked the Priest, 'all about the Amulet?'
'No,' said Rekh-mara.
'Then tell him now. He is very learned. Perhaps he can tell us
what to do.'
Rekh-mara hesitated, then told--and, oddly enough, none of the
children ever could remember afterwards what it was that he did
tell. Perhaps he used some magic to prevent their remembering.
When he had done the learned gentleman was silent, leaning his
elbow on the table and his head on his hand.
'Dear Jimmy,' said Anthea gently, 'don't worry about it. We are
sure to find it today, somehow.'
'Yes,' said Rekh-mara, 'and perhaps, with it, Death.'
'It's to bring us our hearts' desire,' said Robert.
'Who knows,' said the Priest, 'what things undreamed-of and
infinitely desirable lie beyond the dark gates?'
'Oh, DON'T,' said Jane, almost whimpering.
The learned gentleman raised his head suddenly.
'Why not,' he suggested, 'go back into the Past? At a moment
when the Amulet is unwatched. Wish to be with it, and that it
shall be under your hand.'
It was the simplest thing in the world! And yet none of them had
ever thought of it.
'Come,' cried Rekh-mara, leaping up. 'Come NOW!'
'May--may I come?' the learned gentleman timidly asked. 'It's
only a dream, you know.'
'Come, and welcome, oh brother,' Rekh-mara was beginning, but
Cyril and Robert with one voice cried, 'NO.'
'You weren't with us in Atlantis,' Robert added, 'or you'd know
better than to let him come.'
'Dear Jimmy,' said Anthea, 'please don't ask to come. We'll go
and be back again before you have time to know that we're gone.'
'And he, too?'
'We must keep together,' said Rekh-mara, 'since there is but one
perfect Amulet to which I and these children have equal claims.'
Jane held up the Amulet--Rekh-mara went first--and they all
passed through the great arch into which the Amulet grew at the
Name of Power.
The learned gentleman saw through the arch a darkness lighted by
smoky gleams. He rubbed his eyes. And he only rubbed them for
The children and the Priest were in a small, dark chamber. A
square doorway of massive stone let in gleams of shifting light,
and the sound of many voices chanting a slow, strange hymn. They
stood listening. Now and then the chant quickened and the light
grew brighter, as though fuel had been thrown on a fire.
'Where are we?' whispered Anthea.
'And when?' whispered Robert.
'This is some shrine near the beginnings of belief,' said the
Egyptian shivering. 'Take the Amulet and come away. It is cold
here in the morning of the world.'
And then Jane felt that her hand was on a slab or table of stone,
and, under her hand, something that felt like the charm that had
so long hung round her neck, only it was thicker. Twice as
'It's HERE!' she said, 'I've got it!' And she hardly knew the
sound of her own voice.
'Come away,' repeated Rekh-mara.
'I wish we could see more of this Temple,' said Robert
'Come away,' the Priest urged, 'there is death all about, and
strong magic. Listen.'
The chanting voices seemed to have grown louder and fiercer, and
'They are coming!' cried Rekh-mara. 'Quick, quick, the Amulet!'
Jane held it up.
'What a long time you've been rubbing your eyes!' said Anthea;
'don't you see we've got back?' The learned gentleman merely
stared at her.
'Miss Anthea--Miss Jane!' It was Nurse's voice, very much higher
and squeaky and more exalted than usual.
'Oh, bother!' said everyone. Cyril adding, 'You just go on with
the dream for a sec, Mr Jimmy, we'll be back directly. Nurse'll
come up if we don't. SHE wouldn't think Rekh-mara was a dream.'
Then they went down. Nurse was in the hall, an orange envelope
in one hand, and a pink paper in the other.
'Your Pa and Ma's come home. "Reach London 11.15. Prepare
rooms as directed in letter", and signed in their two names.'
'Oh, hooray! hooray! hooray!' shouted the boys and Jane. But
Anthea could not shout, she was nearer crying.
'Oh,' she said almost in a whisper, 'then it WAS true. And we
HAVE got our hearts' desire.'
'But I don't understand about the letter,' Nurse was saying. 'I
haven't HAD no letter.'
'OH!' said Jane in a queer voice, 'I wonder whether it was one of
those ... they came that night--you know, when we were playing
"devil in the dark"--and I put them in the hat-stand drawer,
behind the clothes-brushes and'--she pulled out the drawer as she
spoke--'and here they are!'
There was a letter for Nurse and one for the children. The
letters told how Father had done being a war-correspondent and
was coming home; and how Mother and The Lamb were going to meet
him in Italy and all come home together; and how The Lamb and
Mother were quite well; and how a telegram would be sent to tell
the day and the hour of their home-coming.
'Mercy me!' said old Nurse. 'I declare if it's not too bad of
You, Miss Jane. I shall have a nice to-do getting things
straight for your Pa and Ma.'
'Oh, never mind, Nurse,' said Jane, hugging her; 'isn't it just
too lovely for anything!'
'We'll come and help you,' said Cyril. 'There's just something
upstairs we've got to settle up, and then we'll all come and help
'Get along with you,' said old Nurse, but she laughed jollily.
'Nice help YOU'D be. I know you. And it's ten o'clock now.'
There was, in fact, something upstairs that they had to settle.
Quite a considerable something, too. And it took much longer
than they expected.
A hasty rush into the boys' room secured the Psammead, very sandy
and very cross.
'It doesn't matter how cross and sandy it is though,' said
Anthea, 'it ought to be there at the final council.'
'It'll give the learned gentleman fits, I expect,' said Robert,
'when he sees it.'
But it didn't.
'The dream is growing more and more wonderful,' he exclaimed,
when the Psammead had been explained to him by Rekh-mara. 'I
have dreamed this beast before.'
'Now,' said Robert, 'Jane has got the half Amulet and I've got
the whole. Show up, Jane.'
Jane untied the string and laid her half Amulet on the table,
littered with dusty papers, and the clay cylinders marked all
over with little marks like the little prints of birds' little
feet. Robert laid down the whole Amulet, and Anthea gently
restrained the eager hand of the learned gentleman as it reached
out yearningly towards the 'perfect specimen'.
And then, just as before on the Marcella quilt, so now on the
dusty litter of papers and curiosities, the half Amulet quivered
and shook, and then, as steel is drawn to a magnet, it was drawn
across the dusty manuscripts, nearer and nearer to the perfect
Amulet, warm from the pocket of Robert. And then, as one drop of
water mingles with another when the panes of the window are
wrinkled with rain, as one bead of mercury is drawn into another
bead, the half Amulet, that was the children's and was also
Rekh-mara's,--slipped into the whole Amulet, and, behold! there
was only one--the perfect and ultimate Charm.
'And THAT'S all right,' said the Psammead, breaking a breathless
'Yes,' said Anthea, 'and we've got our hearts' desire. Father
and Mother and The Lamb are coming home today.'
'But what about me?' said Rekh-mara.
'What IS your heart's desire?' Anthea asked.
'Great and deep learning,' said the Priest, without a moment's
hesitation. 'A learning greater and deeper than that of any man
of my land and my time. But learning too great is useless. If I
go back to my own land and my own age, who will believe my tales
of what I have seen in the future? Let me stay here, be the
great knower of all that has been, in that our time, so living to
me, so old to you, about which your learned men speculate
unceasingly, and often, HE tells me, vainly.'
'If I were you,' said the Psammead, 'I should ask the Amulet
about that. It's a dangerous thing, trying to live in a time
that's not your own. You can't breathe an air that's thousands
of centuries ahead of your lungs without feeling the effects of
it, sooner or later. Prepare the mystic circle and consult the
'Oh, WHAT a dream!' cried the learned gentleman. 'Dear children,
if you love me--and I think you do, in dreams and out of
them--prepare the mystic circle and consult the Amulet!'
They did. As once before, when the sun had shone in August
splendour, they crouched in a circle on the floor. Now the air
outside was thick and yellow with the fog that by some strange
decree always attends the Cattle Show week. And in the street
costers were shouting. 'Ur Hekau Setcheh,' Jane said the Name of
Power. And instantly the light went out, and all the sounds went
out too, so that there was a silence and a darkness, both deeper
than any darkness or silence that you have ever even dreamed of
imagining. It was like being deaf or blind, only darker and
quieter even than that.
Then out of that vast darkness and silence came a light and a
voice. The light was too faint to see anything by, and the voice
was too small for you to hear what it said. But the light and
the voice grew. And the light was the light that no man may look
on and live, and the voice was the sweetest and most terrible
voice in the world. The children cast down their eyes. And so
'I speak,' said the voice. 'What is it that you would hear?'
There was a pause. Everyone was afraid to speak.
'What are we to do about Rekh-mara?' said Robert suddenly and
abruptly. 'Shall he go back through the Amulet to his own time,
'No one can pass through the Amulet now,' said the beautiful,
terrible voice, 'to any land or any time. Only when it was
imperfect could such things be. But men may pass through the
perfect charm to the perfect union, which is not of time or
'Would you be so very kind,' said Anthea tremulously, 'as to
speak so that we can understand you? The Psammead said
something about Rekh-mara not being able to live here, and if he
can't get back--' She stopped, her heart was beating desperately
in her throat, as it seemed.
'Nobody can continue to live in a land and in a time not
appointed,' said the voice of glorious sweetness. 'But a soul
may live, if in that other time and land there be found a soul so
akin to it as to offer it refuge, in the body of that land and
time, that thus they two may be one soul in one body.'
The children exchanged discouraged glances. But the eyes of
Rekh-mara and the learned gentleman met, and were kind to each
other, and promised each other many things, secret and sacred and
Anthea saw the look. 'Oh, but,' she said, without at all meaning
to say it, 'dear Jimmy's soul isn't at all like Rekh-mara's. I'm
certain it isn't. I don't want to be rude, but it ISN'T, you
know. Dear Jimmy's soul is as good as gold, and--'
'Nothing that is not good can pass beneath the double arch of my
perfect Amulet,' said the voice. 'If both are willing, say the
word of Power, and let the two souls become one for ever and ever
'Shall I?' asked Jane.
The voices were those of the Egyptian Priest and the learned
gentleman, and the voices were eager, alive, thrilled with hope
and the desire of great things.
So Jane took the Amulet from Robert and held it up between the
two men, and said, for the last time, the word of Power.
'Ur Hekau Setcheh.'
The perfect Amulet grew into a double arch; the two arches leaned
to each other making a great A.
'A stands for Amen,' whispered Jane; 'what he was a priest of.'
'Hush!' breathed Anthea.
The great double arch glowed in and through the green light that
had been there since the Name of Power had first been spoken--it
glowed with a light more bright yet more soft than the other
light--a glory and splendour and sweetness unspeakable. 'Come!'
cried Rekh-mara, holding out his hands.
'Come!' cried the learned gentleman, and he also held out his
Each moved forward under the glowing, glorious arch of the
Then Rekh-mara quavered and shook, and as steel is drawn to a
magnet he was drawn, under the arch of magic, nearer and nearer
to the learned gentleman. And, as one drop of water mingles with
another, when the window-glass is rain-wrinkled, as one
quick-silver bead is drawn to another quick-silver bead,
Rekh-mara, Divine Father of the Temple of Amen-Ra, was drawn
into, slipped into, disappeared into, and was one with Jimmy, the
good, the beloved, the learned gentleman.
And suddenly it was good daylight and the December sun shone.
The fog has passed away like a dream.
The Amulet was there--little and complete in jane's hand, and
there were the other children and the Psammead, and the learned
gentleman. But Rekh-mara--or the body of Rekh-mara--was not
there any more. As for his soul ...
'Oh, the horrid thing!' cried Robert, and put his foot on a
centipede as long as your finger, that crawled and wriggled and
squirmed at the learned gentleman's feet.
'THAT,' said the Psammead, 'WAS the evil in the soul of
There was a deep silence.
'Then Rekh-mara's HIM now?' said Jane at last.
'All that was good in Rekh-mara,' said the Psammead.
'HE ought to have his heart's desire, too,' said Anthea, in a
sort of stubborn gentleness.
'HIS heart's desire,' said the Psammead, 'is the perfect Amulet
you hold in your hand. Yes--and has been ever since he first saw
the broken half of it.'
'We've got ours,' said Anthea softly.
'Yes,' said the Psammead--its voice was crosser than they had
ever heard it--'your parents are coming home. And what's to
become of ME? I shall be found out, and made a show of, and
degraded in every possible way. I KNOW they'll make me go into
Parliament--hateful place--all mud and no sand. That beautiful
Baalbec temple in the desert! Plenty of good sand there, and no
politics! I wish I were there, safe in the Past--that I do.'
'I wish you were,' said the learned gentleman absently, yet
polite as ever.
The Psammead swelled itself up, turned its long snail's eyes in
one last lingering look at Anthea--a loving look, she always
said, and thought--and--vanished.
'Well,' said Anthea, after a silence, 'I suppose it's happy. The
only thing it ever did really care for was SAND.'
'My dear children,' said the learned gentleman, 'I must have
fallen asleep. I've had the most extraordinary dream.'
'I hope it was a nice one,' said Cyril with courtesy.
'Yes.... I feel a new man after it. Absolutely a new man.'
There was a ring at the front-door bell. The opening of a door.
'It's THEM!' cried Robert, and a thrill ran through four hearts.
'Here!' cried Anthea, snatching the Amulet from Jane and pressing
it into the hand of the learned gentleman. 'Here--it's
yours--your very own--a present from us, because you're Rekh-mara
as well as ... I mean, because you're such a dear.'
She hugged him briefly but fervently, and the four swept down the
stairs to the hall, where a cabman was bringing in boxes, and
where, heavily disguised in travelling cloaks and wraps, was
their hearts' desire--three-fold--Mother, Father, and The Lamb.
'Bless me!' said the learned gentleman, left alone, 'bless me!
What a treasure! The dear children! It must be their affection
that has given me these luminous apercus. I seem to see so many
things now--things I never saw before! The dear children! The
dear, dear children!'