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Jimbo looked up and stared. He stood on tip-toe to kiss him. 'Oh, thank you so much,' he said, fearful lest the others should see; and tucked the coin away into a pocket underneath his cotton blouse. A moment later he came back from the corner where he had hid himself to examine it. 'But, Cousin Henry,' he whispered, utterly astonished, 'it's gold.' He had thought the coin was a ten-centime piece such as Daddy sometimes gave him. He could not believe it. He had never seen gold before. He ran up and told his parents. His sisters were too excited to be told just then. After that he vanished into the passage without being noticed, and when he returned five minutes later his eyes were suspiciously red. But no one heard him say a word about getting nothing out of the box. He stood aside, with a superior manner and looked quietly on. 'It's very nice for the girls,' his expression said. His interest in the box had grown decidedly less. He could buy an entire shop for himself now.
'Mother, Daddy, everybody,' cried an excited voice, 'will you look at me a minute, please! It all fits me perfectly,' and Jinny emerged from the bedroom door. She had been trying on. A rough brown dress of Harris tweed became her well; she wore a motor veil about her head, and another was tied round her neck; a white silk blouse, at least one size too large for her, bulged voluminously from beneath the neat tweed jacket. She wore her suede gloves still. 'And there's an outside pocket in the skirt, you see.' She pulled it up and showed a very pointed pair of brown boots; they were much too long; they looked ridiculous after her square village boots. 'I can waggle my toes in them,' she explained, strutting to and fro to be admired. 'I'm a fashionable monster now!'
But she only held the centre of the stage a minute, for Monkey entered at her heels, bursting with delight in a long green macintosh thrown over another tweed skirt that hid her feet and even trailed behind. A pair of yellow spats were visible sometimes that spread fan-shaped over her boots and climbed half-way up the fat legs.
'It all fits me exaccurately,' was her opinion. The sisters went arm in arm about the room, dancing and laughing.
'We're busy blackmailers,' cried Jinny, using her latest acquisition which she practised on all possible occasions. 'We're in Piccadilly, going to see the Queen for tea.'
They tripped over Monkey's train and one of the spats came off in the struggle for recovery. Daddy, in his Homburg hat, looked round and told them sternly to make less noise. Behind a screen he was getting surreptitiously into a suit that Mother had put aside for Edward. He tried on several in this way, hopeful to the last.
'I think this will fit me all right,' he said presently, emerging with a grave expression on his puckered face. He seemed uncertain about it. He was solemn as a judge. 'You could alter the buttons here and there, you know,' and he looked anxiously at his wife. The coat ran up behind, the waistcoat creased badly owing to the strain, and the trousers were as tight as those of a cavalry officer. Anywhere, and any moment, he might burst out into unexpected revelation. 'A little alteration,' he suggested hopefully, 'and it would be all right--don't you think?' And then he added 'perhaps.'
He turned and showed himself. Even the roar of laughter that greeted his appearance did not quite convince him. He looked like a fat, impoverished bookmaker.
'I think it will fit Edward better,' said Mother again without pity, for she did not like to see her husband look foolish before the children. He disappeared behind the screen, but repeated the performance with two other suits. 'This striped one seems a little looser,' he said; or, 'If you'd let out the trousers at the bottom, I think they would do.' But in the end all he got from the box was two pairs of pink silk pyjamas, the Homburg hat, several pairs of gloves, spats, and gaiters, and half a dozen neckties that no one else would wear. He made his heap carefully in the corner of the room, and later, when the mess was all cleared up and everybody went off with their respective treasures, he entirely forgot them in his pleasure and admiration of the others. He left them lying in the corner. Riquette slept on them that night, and next morning Jimbo brought them over for him to the carpenter's house. And Edward later magnanimously yielded up two flannel shirts because he had so many left over from the previous box. Also a pair of pumps.
'I've not done so badly after all,' was his final matured opinion. 'Poor mother! She got nothing but motor caps.' Jimbo, however, had made a final discovery of value for himself--of some value, at least. When the empty case was overturned as a last hope, he rummaged among the paper with his hammer and chisel, and found four pairs of golf stockings! The legs fitted him admirably, but the feet were much too big. There was some discussion as to whether they had belonged to a very thin-legged boy with big feet or to a girl who had no calves. Luckily, the former was decided upon, for otherwise they would have given no pleasure to Jimbo. Even as it was, he adopted them chiefly because it pleased his parents. Mother cut off the feet and knitted new ones a little smaller. But there was no mystery about those stockings. No special joy went with them. He had watched Mother knitting too often for that; she could make stockings half asleep.
Two hours later, while Jane Ann and Mother prepared the tea in the Den, Daddy, Jimbo, and Cousin Henry went in a procession to the carpenter's house carrying the piles of clothing in their arms to the astonishment of half the village. They were to be re-sorted there in privacy by the 'men,' where the 'children' could not interfere. The things they could not use were distributed later among the governesses; the Pension and the village also, got their share. And the Postmaster got his hat--a black Trilby. He loved its hue.
And for days afterwards the children hoarded their treasures with unholy joy. What delighted them as much as anything, perhaps, were the coronets upon the pyjamas and the shirts. They thought it was a London or Edinburgh laundry mark. But Jimbo told them otherwise: 'It means that Daddy's Cousin is a Lord-and-Waiting, and goes to see the King.' This explanation was generally accepted.
The relief to the parents, however, as they sat up in the Den that night and discussed how much this opportune Magic Box had saved them, may be better imagined than described. The sum ran into many, many francs. Edward had suits now for at least two years. 'He's stopped growing,' said his mother; 'thank goodness,' said his father.
And to the long list he prayed for twice a day Jimbo added of his accord, 'Ceux qui ont envoye la grosse caisse.'
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A Prisoner in Fairyland -by- Algernon BlackwoodBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.