A SHOP IN GO-BY STREET
I said I must go back to Yann again and see if Bird of the River still plies up and down and whether her bearded captain commands her still or whether he sits in the gate of fair Belzoond drinking at evening the marvellous yellow wine that the mountaineer brings down from the Hian Min. And I wanted to see the sailors again who came from Durl and Duz and to hear from their lips what befell Perdondaris when its doom came up without warning from the hills and fell on that famous city. And I wanted to hear the sailors pray at night each to his own god, and to feel the wind of the evening coolly arise when the sun went flaming away from that exotic river. For I thought never again to see the tide of Yann, but when I gave up politics not long ago the wings of my fancy strengthened, though they had erstwhile drooped, and I had hopes of coming behind the East once more where Yann like a proud white war-horse goes through the Lands of Dream.
Yet I had forgotten the way to those little cottages on the edge of the fields we know whose upper windows, though dim with antique cobwebs, look out on the fields we know not and are the starting-point of all adventure in all the Lands of Dream.
I therefore made enquiries. And so I came to be directed to the shop of a dreamer who lives not far from the Embankment in the City. Among so many streets as there are in the city it is little wonder that there is one that has never been seen before; it is named Go-by Street and runs out of the Strand if you look very closely. Now when you enter this man’s shop you do not go straight to the point but you ask him to sell you something, and if it is anything with which he can supply you he hands it you and wishes you good-morning. It is his way. And many have been deceived by asking for some unlikely thing, such as the oyster-shell from which was taken one of those single pearls that made the gates of Heaven in Revelations, and finding that the old man had it in stock.
He was comatose when I went into the shop, his heavy lids almost covered his little eyes; he sat, and his mouth was open. I said, “I want some of Abama and Pharpah, rivers of Damascus.” “How much?” he said. “Two and a half yards of each, to be delivered to my flat.” “That is very tiresome,” he muttered, “very tiresome. We do not stock it in that quantity.” “Then I will take all you have,” I said.
He rose laboriously and looked among some bottles. I saw one labelled: Nilos, river of AEgyptos; and others Holy Ganges, Phlegethon, Jordan; I was almost afraid he had it, when I heard him mutter again, “This is very tiresome,” and presently he said, “We are out of it.” “Then,” I said, “I wish you to tell me the way to those little cottages in whose upper chambers poets look out upon the fields we know not, for I wish to go into the Land of Dream and to sail once more upon mighty, sea-like Yann.”