“Do pray come, mother,” entreated Armine;” you never saw anything like it!”
“What is it? Will it take long?” said she, beginning to yield, as Babie danced about with her bonnet, Armine tugged at her, and Allen look half-commanding, half-coaxing.
“She is not to know till she sees! No, don’t tell her,” said Armine. “Bandage her eyes, Allen. Here’s my silk handkerchief.”
“And Janet. She mustn’t see,” cried Babie, in ecstasy.
“I’m not coming,” said Janet, rather crossly. “I’m much too busy, and it is only some nonsense of yours.”
“Thank you,” said Allen, laughing; “mother shall judge of that.”
“It does seem a shame to desert you, my dear,” said Carey, “but you see-”
What Janet was to see was stifled in the flap of the handkerchief with which Allen was binding her eyes, while Armine and Babie sang rapturously-
“Come along, Mother
Come along to land of fairy;”
an invocation to which, sooth to say, she had become so much accustomed that it prevented her from expecting a fairy-land where it was not necessary to “make believe very much.”
Janet so entirely disapproved of the puerile interruption that she never looked to see how Allen and Babie managed the bonnet. She only indignantly picked up the cap which had fallen from the sofa to the floor, and disposed of it for security’s sake on the bronze head of Apollo, which was waiting till his bracket could be put up.
Guided most carefully by her eldest son, and with the two little ones dancing and singing round her, and alternately stopping each other’s mouths when any premature disclosure was apprehended, pausing in wonder when the cuckoo note, never heard before, came on them, making them laugh with glee.
Thus she was conducted much further than she expected. She heard the swing of the garden gate and felt her feet on the road and remonstrated, but she was coaxed on and through another gate, and a path where Allen had to walk in front of her, and the little ones fell behind.
Then came an eager “Now.”
Her eyes were unbound, and she beheld what they might well call enchanted ground.
She was in the midst of a curved bank where the copsewood had no doubt been recently cut away, and which was a perfect marvel of primroses, their profuse bunches standing out of their wrinkled leaves at every hazel root or hollow among the exquisite moss, varied by the pearly stars of the wind-flower, purple orchis spikes springing from black-spotted leaves, and deep-grey crested dog-violets. On one side was a perfect grove of the broad-leaved, waxen-belled Solomon’s seal, sloping down to moister ground where was a golden river of king-cups, and above was a long glade between young birch-trees, their trunks gleaming silvery white, the boughs over head breaking out into foliage that looked yellow rather than green against the blue sky, and the ground below one sheet of that unspeakably intense purple blue which is only produced by masses of the wild hyacinth.