‘I know,’ said Biddy. ’I’m rather alone too, for Alie’s so big, you see. Oh, Celestina, do look, isn’t this a beauty? Look, it’s all pinky inside. Now I’ve got six and this beauty. I think that’ll do for to-day. I’m tired of looking.’
‘Sometimes I look for ever so long—a whole hour,’ said Celestina, rather taken aback by Biddy’s fitfulness. ’But perhaps we’d better run about a little to keep warm. It isn’t like as if it was summer.’
‘I’m not cold and I don’t like running,’ said Biddy. ’Let’s just walk, Celestina, and you tell me things. Oh, look at the sun—he’s getting redder and redder—and look at the lighthouse, it’s shining red too. Is it a fire burning inside, do you think, Celestina?’
’No, it’s the sun’s redness shining on the glass. The top room is all windows—I’ve been there once,’ she said. ’It’s a good way to walk though it looks so near, and there’s some water too between. Father took us once in a boat, mother and me, when the tide was in, and we had dinner there; we took it with us, and there was a nice old man father knew. And when the tide went out we came over a bit of water till we got to the stones, in the boat, and then the boatman took it back, and we walked home right along the stones—you see where I mean?’
She pointed to the rocky ridge which I told you ran out from the shore to the lighthouse. Bridget listened with the greatest interest.
‘How nice,’ she said. ’Couldn’t you have walked the whole way? I’m sure there isn’t any water between now—I can’t see it. It must have gone away.’
‘Oh no, it hasn’t,’ said Celestina. ’It’s always there: it couldn’t go away. You couldn’t ever get to the lighthouse without a boat; once one of the men had to come in a hurry, and father said he had to wade to over his waist.’
But Bridget was not convinced. She stood there gazing out seawards at the lighthouse.
‘I would like to go there,’ she said. ’Can’t you see a long way from the top room that’s all windows, Celestina? I should think you could see to the—what do they call that thing at the top of the world—the north stick, is it?’
[Illustration: ‘I would like to go out there,’ she said. P. 115.]
Celestina was not very much given to laughing, but this was too funny.
‘The North Pole, you mean,’ she said. ’Oh no, you couldn’t see to there, I’m quite sure. Besides, there isn’t anything to see like that—not a pole sticking up in the ground—it’s just the name of a place. Father’s told me all about it. And so did the old man at the lighthouse. Oh, I would like to go there—better than anywhere—just think how strange it must be, all the snow and the ice mountains and everything quite, quite still!’
A NICE PLAN
’Up where the world
Under the sharp north star.’
A North Pole Story.