But that was all they could get her to say, and then she carried them off to bed, and they both slept soundly till morning.
DUDU’S OLD STORY.
“It was not a story,
But just of old days that had been.”
It was queer, but so it was. The children said very little to each other the next day of their new adventures. Only Hugh felt satisfied that this time little Jeanne had forgotten nothing; daylight Jeanne and moonlight Jeanne were the same. Yet he had a feeling that if he said much about it, if he persisted in trying to convince Jeanne that he had been right all through, he might spoil it all. It would be like seizing the fairy lady’s cobweb threads roughly, and spoiling them, and finding you had nothing left. He felt now quite content to let it all be like a pretty dream which they both knew about, but which was not for everyday life.
Only one impression remained on his mind. He got the greatest wish to learn to throw balls like the princess of the Brown Bull story, and for some days every time they went out, he kept peering in at the toy-shop windows to see if such a thing as golden balls was to be had. And at last Jeanne asked him what he was always looking for, and then he told her.
She agreed with him that golden balls would be a very pretty play, but she was afraid such a thing could not be found.
“They were fairy balls, you know, Cheri,” she said, gravely.
“Yes,” Hugh replied, “he knew they were; he did not expect such balls as they were, of course, but still he didn’t see why they might not get some sort of gold-looking balls. There were red and blue, and green ones in plenty. He didn’t see why there should be no gold ones.”
“Gold is so very dear,” said Jeanne.
“Yes, real gold is, of course,” said Hugh; “but there are lots of things that look like gold that can’t be real gold—picture frames, and the edges of books, and lots of other things.”
“Yes,” said Jeanne, “but still, I don’t see that the stuff any of those are made of would do to make balls of.”
However, she joined Hugh in the search, and many a day when they were out they peeped together not only into the toy-shops, but into the windows of the queer old curiosity shops, of which, in the ancient town which was Jeanne’s home, there were many. And at last one day they told Marcelline what it was they were so anxious to find. She shook her head. There was no such toy in this country, she said, but she did not laugh at them, or seem to think them silly. And she advised them to be content with the prettiest balls they could get, which were of nice smooth buff-coloured leather, very well made, and neither too soft nor too hard. And in the sunlight, said Jeanne, they really had rather a shiny, goldy look.
For several days to come these balls were a great interest to the children. Early and late they were practising at them, and, with patience and perseverance, they before long arrived at a good deal of skill. Jeanne was the quicker in the first place, but Hugh was so patient that he soon equalled her, and then the interest grew still greater.