“Where Mrs. Parachute leads, far be it from me to seem behindhand,” said the other, much ruffled, as she gathered her sheet about her. By the way she said it, one saw that she and Mrs. Parachute did not call. She bowed to Lady Arabel, and became satirical, even arch. “Good afternoon, Mrs.—er—, I am assured that the moment is not solemn, and therefore solemn it shall not be. To turn to lighter subjects, I hope I shall have the pleasure of meeting you and your delightful son and daughter again at no distant date, the moment then being genuinely solemn. I fear I have no visiting card on me, but—er—perhaps my slab just outside—very superior granite—would do as a substitute....”
The pale party filed out of the crypt and disappeared. The remaining Vicar smote his brow, and addressed the now calm Rupert in a low voice, but with such unaccountable warmth that that harassed animal disappeared precipitately in the direction of his home.
Lady Arabel, Sarah Brown, and Richard crossed the churchyard together.
“Oh, my dears, look,” said Lady Arabel. “How too too dretful, that bomb fell quite close to us. Do look how it has disturbed the graves....”
AN AIR RAID SEEN FROM ABOVE
The moonlight lay like cream upon the pavement when the witch and Harold her broomstick left the Higgins’ doorstep. London was a still Switzerland in silver and star-grey, unblotted by people. There was a hint of pale green about the moonlight, and the lamps with their dim light downcast were like daffodils in faery fields.
The witch mounted. Harold, who was every inch a thoroughbred and very highly strung, trembled beneath her, but not with fear. They reached Piccadilly Circus with supernatural speed, and flashed across it. The sound of people singing desultorily while taking shelter in the Tube floated up to them. Here the witch said “Yoop” to Harold, and he reared and shot upwards, narrowly missing the statue of One In A Bus-catching Attitude, which marks the middle of the Circus.
As soon as the witch had out-distanced the noise of expectant London, she heard quite distinctly the approach of London’s guests. They came with a chorus of many notes, all deep and dangerous.
There were a few clouds wandering about among the stars, and to one of these the witch and her faithful Harold repaired. A cloud gives quite reasonable support to magic people, and most witches and wizards have discovered the delight of paddling knee-deep about those quicksilver continents. They wander along shining and changing valleys under a most ardent sky; they climb the purple thunderclouds, or launch the first snowflake of a blizzard; they spring from pink stepping-stone to pink stepping-stone of clouds each no bigger than a baby’s hand, across great sunsets. Often when in London I am battling with a barrage of rain, or falling over unseen strangers into gutters during fogs, I think happily of the sunlit roof of cloud above my head, and of the witches and wizards, lying on their backs with their coats off, among cloud-meadows in a glory of perfect summer and sun.