“H’m!” I remarked, when he had finished, “it’s a very remarkable story. I seem to have heard of some of the incidents before, somehow.”
“Very likely, very likely,” said Shin Shira, “Well, I must be going now.” And he shook hands and went out by the door, in a sensible way for once.
As he went out of the house, I heard him singing softly—
“The Queen of
Hearts, she made some tarts
All on a summer’s day”—
And then he changed his song to—
“Sing a song of
A pocketful of rye,
Baked in a pie.
“The maid was
in the garden
Hanging out the clothes,
And along came a blackbird
And nipped off her nose.”
And I remembered then why his story had seemed so familiar.
SHIN SHIRA DISAPPEARS
The day after my little friend had related to me his experiences in the land of the King and Queen of Hearts, I was surprised to receive a portmanteau addressed to me, which, on my opening it, I found to contain the little yellow costume, including the turban with the diamond ornament, which Shin Shira had always worn.
There was no note enclosed, and I naturally wondered very much what had occasioned this strange parcel being sent to me.
I had no means of communicating with Shin Shira, and so had to wait with what patience I could summon for an explanation from him.
I had not long to wait, fortunately, for in the afternoon of the same day the little fellow burst in upon me, clothed in a frock coat, tall hat and regulation costume of a gentleman in easy circumstances.
I must say he was not nearly such a picturesque looking person as he had been in his Oriental dress. He threw himself into a chair and seemed overflowing with news.
“I’ve decided to settle down,” he said breathlessly. “I didn’t tell you yesterday because my arrangements were not quite completed, but I’ve begun now, and I’m going to settle down.”
“What do you mean?” I inquired, utterly bewildered by my friend’s abrupt statement.
“Why,” he began, “I’m tired of this constant changing from one place to another; and as I’ve not had to disappear now for some time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the fairies have overlooked the misdeeds of my ancestors and are going to give me a rest. I’ve taken a house in the highly respectable neighbourhood of Russell Square, and I’ve furnished it by means of my fairy powers with everything that is necessary; besides this, I’ve realised the full value of all my precious stones, except, of course, that which the dear Princess gave me, and have opened a banking account. There!” and the little fellow sat back, evidently feeling quite exhausted by his long speech and vainly searching for his little fan, which, of course, was not there.