He ran out of the yard.
It appeared that Honoria and Taffy were to do lessons together, and Mr. Raymond was to teach them. This had been the meaning of his visit to Tredinnis House. They began the very next day in the library at Tredinnis—a deserted room carpeted with badgers’ skins, and lined with undusted books—works on farriery, veterinary surgery, and sporting subjects, long rows of the Annual Register, the Arminian Magazine.
Taffy began by counting the badgers’ skins. There were eighteen, and the moths had got into them, so that the draught under the door puffed little drifts of hair over the polished boards. Then he settled down to the first Latin declension—Musa, a muse; vocative, Musa, O muse!; genitive, Musae, of a muse. Honoria began upon the ABC.
Mr. Raymond brought a pile of his own books, and worked at them, scribbling notes in the margin or on long slips of paper, while the children learnt. A servant came in with a message from Squire Moyle, and he left them for a while.
“I call this nonsense,” said Honoria. “How am I to get these silly letters into my head?”
Taffy was glad of the chance to show off. “Oh, that’s easy. You make up a tale about them. See here. A is the end of a house; it’s just like one with a beam across. B is a cat with his tail curled under him—watch me drawing it. C is an old woman stooping; and D is another cat, only his back is more rounded. Once upon a time, there lived in a cottage an old woman who went about with two cats, one on each side of her—that’s how you go on.”
“But I can’t go on. You must do it for me.”
“Well, each of these cats had a comb, and was combed every Saturday night. One was a good cat, and kept his comb properly—like E, you see. But the other had broken a tooth out of his—that’s F—”
“I expect he was a fulmart,” said Honoria.
Taffy agreed. He didn’t know what a fulmart was, but he was not going to confess it. So he went on hurriedly, and Honoria thought him a wonder. They came to W.
“So they got into a ship (I’ll show you how to make one out of paper, exactly like W), and sailed up into the sky, for the ship was a Ship of Stars—you make X’s for stars; but that’s a witch-ship; so it stuck fast in Y, which is a cleft ash-stick, and then came a stroke of lightning, Z, and burnt them all up!” He stopped, out of breath.
“I don’t understand the ending at all,” said Honoria. “What is a Ship of Stars?”
“Haven’t you ever seen one?”
“I have. There’s a story about it—”
“Tell me about it.”
“I’ll tell you lots of stories afterwards; about the Frog-king and Aladdin and Man Friday and The Girl who trod on a Loaf.”
“And the Ship of Stars?”