Mr. Pidgen was greatly touched. He put his hand upon Hugh’s shoulder. “My dear boy,” he said, “my dear boy—dear me, dear me. I’m afraid you’re going to have a dreadful time when you grow up. I really mustn’t encourage you. And yet, who can help himself?”
“But you said yourself that you’d seen him, that you knew him quite well?”
“And so I do—and so I do. But you’ll find, as you grow older, there are many people who won’t believe you. And there’s this, too. The more you live in your head, dreaming and seeing things that aren’t there, the less you’ll see the things that are there. You’ll always be tumbling over things. You’ll never get on. You’ll never be a success.”
“Never mind,” said Hugh, “it doesn’t matter much what you say now, you’re only talking ‘for my good’ like Mr. Lasher. I don’t care, I heard what you said yesterday, and it’s made all the difference. I’ll come and stay with you.”
“Well, so you shall,” said Mr. Pidgen. “I can’t help it. You shall come as often as you like. Upon my soul, I’m younger to-day than I’ve felt for a long time. We’ll go to the pantomime together if you aren’t too old for it. I’ll manage to ruin you all right. What’s that shining?” He pointed in front of him.
They had come to a rise in the Polwint Road. To their right, running to the very foot of their path, was the moor. It stretched away, like a cloud, vague and indeterminate to the horizon. To their left a dark brown field rose in an ascending wave to a ridge that cut the sky, now crocus-coloured. The field was lit with the soft light of the setting sun. On the ridge of the field something, suspended, it seemed, in midair, was shining like a golden fire.
“What’s that?” said Mr. Pidgen again. “It’s hanging. What the devil!”
They stopped for a moment, then started across the field. When they had gone a little way Mr. Pidgen paused again.
“It’s like a man with a golden helmet. He’s got legs, he’s coming to us.”
They walked on again. Then Hugh cried, “Why, it’s only an old Scarecrow. We might have guessed.”
The sun, at that instant, sank behind the hills and the world was grey.
The Scarecrow, perched on the high ridge, waved its tattered sleeves in the air. It was an old tin can that had caught the light; the can hanging over the stake that supported it in drunken fashion seemed to wink at them. The shadows came streaming up from the sea and the dark woods below in the hollow drew closer to them.
The Scarecrow seemed to lament the departure of the light. “Here, mind,” he said to the two of them, “you saw me in my glory just now and don’t you forget it. I may be a knight in shining armour after all. It only depends upon the point of view.”
“So it does,” said Mr. Pidgen, taking his hat off, “you were very fine, I shan’t forget.”