“Only,” he said to himself, “if I get into the castle, Jeanne really must come with me, especially if it is to hear stories.”
WINGS AND CATS.
“And all their cattish
gestures plainly spoke
They thought the affair they’d come upon no joke.”
Some days went on, and nothing more was said by the children about the adventures which had so puzzled poor Hugh. After a while he seemed to lose the wish to talk about them to little Jeanne; or rather, he began to feel as if he could not, that the words would not come, or that if they did, they would not tell what he wanted. He thought about the strange things he had seen very often, but it was as if he had read of them rather than as if he had seen and heard them, or as if they had happened to some one else. Whenever he saw Dudu and Houpet and the rest of the pets, he looked at them at first in a half dreamy way, wondering if they too were puzzled about it all, or if, being really fairies, they did not find anything to puzzle them! The only person (for, after all, he could often not prevent himself from looking upon all the animals as persons)—the only person who he somehow felt sure did understand him, was Marcelline, and this was a great satisfaction. She said nothing; she almost never even smiled in what Jeanne called her “funny” way; but there was just a very tiny little undersound in the tone of her voice sometimes, a little wee smile in her eyes more than on her lips, that told Hugh that, fairy or no fairy, old Marcelline knew all about it, and it pleased him to think so.
One night when Hugh was warmly tucked up in bed Marcelline came in as usual before he went to sleep to put out his light.
“There’s been no moonlight for a good while Marcelline, has there?” he said.
“No, Monsieur, there has not,” said Marcelline.
“Will it be coming back soon?” asked Hugh.
“Do you like it so much, my child?” said the old nurse. She had a funny way of sometimes answering a question by asking another.
“Yes,” said Hugh. “At least, of course when I’m fast asleep it doesn’t matter to me if it’s moonlight or not. But you know what I like it for, Marcelline, and you said the other day that I hadn’t half seen the tapestry castle, and I want very much to see it, Marcelline, only I’d like Jeanne to be with me; for I don’t think I could tell her well about the fairy things if she hadn’t been with me. She didn’t seem to understand the words, and I don’t think I could get the right ones to tell, do you know, Marcelline?”
He half sat up in bed, resting his head on his elbow, which was leaning on the pillow, and looking up in the old woman’s face with his earnest blue eyes. Marcelline shook her head slowly.
“No,” she said, “you’re right. The words wouldn’t come, and if they did, it would be no use. You’re older than Mademoiselle Jeanne, Monsieur Hugh, and it’s different for her. But it doesn’t matter—the days bring their own pleasures and interests, which the moonlight wouldn’t suit. You wouldn’t have cared for a dinner like what you have every day when you were listening to the song of the swan?”