Sandy had curled up like a kitten; his eyes were shut, and he was smiling, too. Every one was very quiet; only Rosita moved, reaching out a frightened hand to Bridget.
“Fwaid,” she lisped. “All dark—fwaid to do.”
“Whist, darlin’, ye needn’t be afeared. Bridget ’ll hold tight to your hand all the way. An’ the stars will be out there makin’ it bright—so bright—foreby the stars are the faeries’ old rush-lights. When they’re all burned out, just, they throw them up i’ the sky—far as ever they can—an’ God reaches out an’ catches them. Then He sets them all a-burnin’ ag’in, so’s the wee angel babies can see what road to be takin’. An’ Sandy ‘ll lose his hump—an’ Michael ’ll get a new heart—maybe—that won’t bump—an’ they’ll put all the trusters in cages—all but the nice Wee One—cages like they have in the circus— An’ they’ll never get out to pesther us—never—never—no—more—” Bridget’s voice trailed off into the distance, carrying with it the last of Rosita’s fearing consciousness.
Ward C had suddenly become empty—empty except for a row of tumbled beds and nine little tired-out, cast-off bodies. They had been shed as easily as a boy slips out of his dusty, uncomfortable overalls on a late sultry afternoon, and leaves them behind him on a shady bank, while he plunges, head first, into the cool, dark waters of the swimming-pool just below him, which have been calling and calling and calling.
What happened beyond the primrose ring is, perhaps, rather a crazy-quilt affair, having to be patched out of the squares and three-cornered bits of Fancy which the children remembered to bring back with them. I have tried to piece them together into a fairly substantial pattern; but, of course, it can be easily ripped out and raveled into nothing. So I beg of you, on the children’s account, to handle it gently, for they believe implicitly in the durability of the fabric.
Sandy remembered the beginning of it—the plunge straight across the primrose ring into the River of Make-Believe; and how they paddled over like puppies—one after another. It was perfectly safe to swim, even if you had never swum before; and the only danger was for those who might stop in the middle of the river and say, or think, “A dinna believe i’ faeries.” Whoever should do this would sink like a stone, going down, down, down until he struck his bed with a thud and woke, crying.