“Sister Jerome doesn’t mean a real elephant, I suppose. We might easily make a very fine elephant indeed by piling the long table from the library with cushions, stuffing it as nearly as possible into the shape of an elephant.”
“And the making of the elephant would be such a lark!” cried Sister Jerome.
Mother Hilda raised no objection, and the Prioress and Evelyn walked aside, saying:
“Well, it is better they should be making elephants than dreaming of counterparts.”
The creation of the beast was accomplished in the novitiate, no one being allowed to see it except the Prioress. The great difficulty was to find beads large enough for the eyes, and it threatened to frustrate the making of their beast. But the latest postulant suggested that perhaps the buttons off her jacket would do, they were just the thing,’ and the legs of the beast were most natural and life-like; it had even a tail.
As no one out of the novitiate had seen this very fine beast, the convent was on tip-toe with excitement, and when, at the conclusion of dinner, the elephant was wheeled into the refectory, every one clapped her hands, and there were screams of delight. Then the saddle was brought in and attached by blue ribbons. Sister Bridget, who did not seem quite sure that the elephant was not alive, was lifted on it and held there; and was wheeled round the refectory in triumph, the novices screaming with delight, the professed, too. Only Evelyn stood silent and apart, sorry she could not mix with the others, sharing their pleasures. To stand watching them she felt to be unkind, so she went into the garden, and wandered to the sundial, whence she could see Richmond Park; and looking into the distance, hearing the childish gaiety of the nuns, she remembered Louise’s party at the Savoy Hotel years and years ago. The convent had ceased to have any meaning for her; so she must return, but not to the mummers, they, too, had faded out of her life. She did not know whither she was going, only that she must wander on... as soon as the Prioress died. The thought caused her to shudder, and, remembering that the old woman was alone in her room, she went up to ask her if she would care to come into the garden with her. The Prioress was too weak to leave her room, but she was glad to have Evelyn, and to listen to her telling of the great success of the elephant.
“Of course, my dear, the recreations here must seem to you very childish. I wonder what your life will be when I’m gone?”
“To-morrow you will be stronger, and will be able to come into the garden.”