The Baldwmn Librry
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
Now, these little folks, like most girls and boys,
Loved fairy tales even better than toys.
And they knew that in flowers on the spray
Tiny spirits are hidden away,
That frisk at night on the forest green,
When earth is bathed in dewy sheen-
And shining halls of pearl and gem,
The Regions of Fancy-were open to them."
". just as any little child has been guided towards the true
paradise by its fairy dreams of bliss."-E. A. ABBOTT.
IT WAS A LITTLE BOAT, CP&ge 221.
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
BY ENNIS GRAHAM,
AUTHOR OF "CARROTS," AND "TELL ME A STORY."
ILLUSTRATED BY WALTER CRANE.
to ntra n:
MAC MILLAN AND CO.
AND TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF HER BROTHER.
BOTH FRIENDLY LITTLE CRITICS OF
MY CHILDREN S STORIES.
I. THE OLD HOUSE ... ... ... ... 1
II. IMPATIENT GRISELDA ... ... ... 21
III. OBEYING ORDERS ... ... ... .. 39
IV. THE COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS ... 62
V. PICTURES ... ... ... ... ... 88
VI. RUBBED THE WRONG WAY .. ... ... 114
VII. BUTTERFLY-LAND ....... ... 135
VIII. MASTER PHIL ... ... ... ... 159
IX. UP AND DOWN THE CHIMNEY ... ... ... 180
X. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON ... ... 206
XI. CUCKOO, CUCKOO, GOOD-BYE!" ... ... 225
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"WHY WON'T YOU SPEAK TO ME ?" ... To face 41
MANDARINS NODDING ... ... .5. ,, 73
" MY AUNTS MUST HAVE COME BACKK" ,, 109
SHE LOOKED LIKE A FAIRY QUEEN ... ,, 147
"WHERE ARE THAT CUCKOO?" ... .. ,, 168
TIREDE! HOW COULD I BE TIRED, CUCKOO?" ... ,, 201
IT WAS A LITTLE BOAT 2 .. ... 221
"THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
THE OLD HOUSE.
"Somewhat back from the village street
Stands the old-fashioned country seat."
ONCE upon a time in an old town, in an old street,
there stood a very old house. Such a house as
you could hardly find nowadays, however you
searched, for it belonged to a gone-by time-a time
now quite passed away.
It stood in a street, but yet it was not like a
town house, for though the front opened right on
to the pavement, the back windows looked out
upon a beautiful, quaintly terraced garden, with
2 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
old trees growing so thick and close together that
in summer it was like living on the edge of a
forest to be near them; and even in winter the
web of their interlaced branches hid all clear view
There was a colony of rooks in this old garden.
Year after year they held their parliaments and
cawed and chattered and fussed; year after year
they built their nests and hatched their eggs;
year after year, I suppose, the old ones gradually
died off and the young ones took their place,
though, but for knowing this must be so, no one
would have suspected it, for to all appearance the
rooks were always the same-ever and always the
Time indeed seemed to stand still in and all
about the old house, as if it and the people who
inhabited it had got so old that they could not
get any older, and had outlived the possibility of
i.] THE OLD HOUSE. 3
But one day at last there did come a change.
Late in the dusk of an autumn afternoon a carriage
drove up to the door of the old house, came rattling
over the stones with a sudden noisy clatter that
sounded quite impertinent, startling the rooks just
as they were composing themselves to rest, and
setting them all wondering what could be the
A little girl was the matter! A little girl in a
grey merino frock and grey beaver bonnet, grey
tippet and grey gloves-all grey together, even to
her eyes, all except her round rosy face and bright
brown hair. Her name even was rather grey, for
it was Griselda.
A gentleman lifted her out of the carriage and
disappeared with her into the house, and later
that same evening the gentleman came out of the
house and got into the carriage which had come
back for him again, and drove away. That was
all that the rooks saw of the change that had come
4 THE UCKO0O CLOCK. [CHAP.
to the old house. Shall we go inside to see
Up the shallow, wide, old-fashioned staircase,
past the wainscoted walls, dark and shining like a
mirror, down a long narrow passage with many
doors, which but for their gleaming brass handles
onewould not have known were there, the oldest of
the three old-servants led little Griselda, so tired
and sleepy that her supper had been left almost
untasted, to the room prepared for her. It was a
queer room, for everything in the house was queer;
but in the dancing light of the fire burning brightly
in the tiled grate, it looked cheerful enough.
I am glad there's a fire," said the child. "Will
it keep alight till the morning, do you think ?"
The old servant shook her head.
"'Twould not be safe to leave it so that it would
burn till morning," she said. "When you are in
bed and asleep, little missie, you won't want the
fire. Bed's the warmest place."
I.] THE OLD HO USE. 5
It isn't for that I want it," said Griselda; it's
for the light I like it. This house all looks so
dark to me, and yet there seem to be lights hidden
in the walls too, they shine so."
The old servant smiled.
It will all seem strange to you, no doubt," she
said; "but you'll get to like it, missie. 'Tis a
good old house, and those that know best love it
Whom do you mean ?" said Griselda. "Do
you mean my great-aunts ?"
"Ah, yes, and others beside," replied the old
woman. "The rooks love it well, and others
beside. Did you ever hear tell of the 'good
people,' missie, over the sea where you come
Fairies, do you mean ?" cried Griselda, her
eyes sparkling. "Of course I've heard of them,
but I never saw any. Did you ever ?"
"I couldn't say," answered the old woman.
6 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"My mind is not young like yours, missie, and
there are times when strange memories come back
to me as of sights and sounds in a dream. I am
too old to see and hear as I once could. We are
all old here, missie. 'Twas time something young
came to the old house again."
"How strange and queer everything seems!"
thought Griselda, as she got into bed. "I don't
feel as if I belonged to it a bit. And they are all
so old; perhaps they won't like having a child
among them ? "
The very same thought that had occurred to the
rooks! They could not decide as to the fors and
against at all, so they settled to put it to the vote
the next morning, and in the meantime they and
Griselda all went to sleep.
I never heard if they slept well that night; after
such unusual excitement it was hardly to be
expected they would. But Griselda, being a little
girl and not a rook, was so tired that two minutes
. THE OLD HOUSE. 7
after she had tucked herself up in bed she was
quite sound asleep, and did not wake for several
I wonder what it will all look like in the morn-
ing," was her last waking thought. If it was
summer now, or spring, I shouldn't mind-there
would always be something nice to do then.'
As sometimes happens, when she woke again,
very early in the morning, long before it was light,
her thoughts went straight on with the same
If it was summer now, or spring," she re-
peated to herself, just as if she had not been asleep
at all-like the man who fell into a trance for a
hundred years just as he was saying it is bitt- "
and when he woke up again finished the sentence
as if nothing had happened-" erly cold." "If
only it was spring," thought Griselda.
Just as she had got so far in her thoughts, she
gave a great start. What was it she heard ?
8 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
Could her wish have come true ? Was this fairy-
land indeed that she had got to, where one only
needs to wish, for it to be ? She rubbed her eyes,
but it was too dark to see; that was not very fairy-
land-like, but her ears she felt certain had not
deceived her: she was quite, quite sure that she
had heard the cuckoo!
She listened with all her might, but she did not
hear it again. Could it, after all, have been
fancy ? She grew sleepy at last, and was just
dropping off when-yes, there it was again, as
clear and distinct as possible-" Cuckoo, cuckoo,
cuckoo !" three, four, five times, then perfect
silence as before.
"What a funny cuckoo," said Griselda to her-
self. "I could almost fancy it was in the house.
I wonder if my great-aunts have a tame cuckoo in
a cage? I don't think I ever heard of such a
thing, but this is such a queer house; everything
seems different in it-perhaps they have a tame
I.] THE OLD HOUSE. 9
cuckoo. I'll ask them in the morning. It's very
nice to hear, whatever it is."
And, with a pleasant feeling of companionship,
a sense that she was not the only living creature
awake in this dark world, Griselda lay listening,
contentedly enough, for the sweet, fresh notes of
the cuckoo's friendly greeting. But before it
sounded again through the silent house she was
once more fast asleep. And this time she slept
till daylight had found its way into all but the
very darkest nooks and crannies of the ancient
She dressed herself carefully, for she had been
warned that her aunts loved neatness and pre-
cision; she fastened each button of her grey
frock, and tied down her hair as smooth as such a
brown tangle could be tied down; and, absorbed
with these weighty cares, she forgot all about the
cuckoo for the time. It was not till she was
sitting at breakfast with her aunts that she re-
10 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
membered it, or rather was reminded of it, by
some little remark that was made about the
friendly robins on the terrace walk outside.
Oh, aunt," she exclaimed, stopping short half-
way the journey to her mouth of a spoonful of
bread and milk, "have you got a cuckoo in a
cage ? "
"A cuckoo in a cage," repeated her elder
aunt, Miss Grizzel; "what is the child talking
"In a cage! echoed Miss Tabitha, "a cuckoo
in a cage !"
"There is a cuckoo somewhere in the house,"
said Griselda; "I heard it in the night. It
couldn't have been out-of-doors, could it ? It would
be too cold."
The aunts looked at each other with a little
smile. "So like her grandmother," they whis-
pered. Then said Miss Grizzel--
We have a cuckoo, my deai, though it isn't in
I.] THE OLD HO USE. 11
a cage, and it isn't exactly the sort of cuckoo you
are thinking of. It lives in a clock."
"In a clock," repeated Miss Tabitha, as if to
confirm her sister's statement.
"In a clock exclaimed Griselda, opening her
grey eyes very wide.
It sounded something like the three bears, all
speaking one after the other, only Griselda's voice
was not like Tiny's; it was the loudest of the three.
"In a clock she exclaimed; "but it can't be
alive, then ? "
Why not ? said Miss Grizzel.
"I don't know," replied Griselda, looking
"I knew a little girl once," pursued Miss Grizzel,
"who was quite of opinion the cuckoo was alive,
and nothing would have persuaded her it was not.
Finish your breakfast, my dear, and then if you
like you shall come with me and see the cuckoo
12 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"Thank you, Aunt Grizzel," said Griselda, going
on with her bread and milk.
"Yes," said Miss Tabitha, "you shall see the
cuckoo for yourself."
"Thank you, Aunt Tabitha," said Griselda.
It was rather a bother to have always to say
"thank you," or "no, thank you," twice, but
Griselda thought it was polite to do so, as Aunt
Tabitha always repeated everything that Aunt
Grizzel said. It wouldn't have mattered so much
if Aunt Tabitha had said it at once after Miss
Grizzel, but as she generally made a little pause
between, it was sometimes rather awkward. But
of course it was better to say "thank you" or no,
thank you twice over than to hurt Aunt Tabitha's
After breakfast Aunt Grizzel was as good as her
word. She took Griselda through several of the
rooms in the house, pointing out all the curiosities,
and telling all the histories of the rooms and their
I.] THE OLD HOUSE. 13
contents; and Griselda liked to listen, only in
every room they came to, she wondered when they
would get to the room where lived the cuckoo.
Aunt Tabitha did not come with them, for she
was rather rheumatic. On the whole, Griselda was
not sorry. It would have taken such a very long
time, you see, to have had all the histories twice
over, and possibly, if Griselda had got tired, she
might have forgotten about the thank you's or
" no, thank you's twice over.
The old house looked quite as queer and quaint
by daylight as it had seemed the evening before;
almost more so indeed, for the view from the
windows added to the sweet, odd "old-fashioned-
ness of everything
"We have beautiful roses in summer," observed
Miss Grizzel, catching sight of the direction in
which the child's eyes were wandering.
I wish it was summer. I do love summer,"
said Griselda. "But there is a very rosy scent
14 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
in the rooms even now, Aunt Grizzel, though it is
winter, or nearly winter."
Miss Grizzel looked pleased.
My pot-pourri," she explained.
They were just then standing in what she called
the "great saloon," a handsome old room, fur-
nished with gold-and-white chairs, that must once
have been brilliant, and faded yellow damask
hangings. A feeling of awe had crept over
Griselda as they entered this ancient drawing-
room. What grand parties there must have been
in it long ago! But as for dancing in it now
-dancing, or laughing, or chattering-such a
thing was quite impossible to imagine !
Miss Grizzel crossed the room to where stood
in one corner a marvellous Chinese cabinet, all
black and gold and carving. It was made in the
shape of a temple, or a palace-Griselda was not
sure which. Any way, it was very delicious and
wonderful. At the door stood, one on each side,
I.] THE OLD HOUSE. 15
two solemn mandarins; or, to speak more cor-
rectly, perhaps I should say, a mandarin and his
wife, for the right-hand figure was evidently
intended to be a lady.
Miss Grizzel gently touched their heads. Forth-
with, to Griselda's astonishment, they began
solemnly to nod.
"Oh, how do you make them do that, Aunt
Grizzel ? she exclaimed.
Never you mind, my dear; it wouldn't do for
you to try to make them nod. They wouldn't like
it," replied Miss Grizzel mysteriously. "Respect
to your elders, my dear, always remember that.
The mandarins are many years older than you-
older than I myself, in fact."
Griselda wondered, if this were so, how it was
that Miss Grizzel took such liberties with them
herself, but she said nothing.
Here is my last summer's pot-pourri," con-
tinued Miss Grizzel, touching a great china jar on
16 THE CUCKOO CLOCs. [CHAP.
a little stand, close beside the cabinet. "You
may smell it, my dear."
Nothing loth, Griselda buried her round little
nose in the fragrant leaves.
It's lovely," she said. May I smell it when-
ever I like, Aunt Grizzel ?"
"We shall see," replied her aunt. "It isn't
every little girl, you know, that we could trust to
come into the great saloon alone."
No," said Griselda meekly.
Miss Grizzel led the way to a door opposite to
that by which they had entered. She opened it
and passed through, Griselda following, into a
"It is on the stroke of ten," said Miss Grizzel,
consulting her watch; "now, my dear, you shall
make acquaintance with our cuckoo."
The cuckoo "that lived in a clock! Griselda
gazed round her eagerly. Where was the clock?
She could see nothing in the least like one, only
I.] THE OLD HOUSE. 17
up on the wall in one corner was what looked like a
miniature house, of dark brown carved wood. It was
not so very like a house, but it certainly had a roof
-a roof with deep projecting eaves; and, looking
closer, yes, it was a clock, after all, only the figures,
which had once been gilt, had grown dim with age,
like everything else, and the hands at a little dis-
tance were hardly to be distinguished from the face.
Miss Grizzel stood perfectly still, looking up at
the clock; Griselda beside her, in breathless ex-
pectation. Presently there came a sort of distant
rumbling. Something was going to happen.
Suddenly two little doors above the clock face,
which Griselda had not known were there, sprang
open with a burst and out flew a cuckoo, flapped
his wings, and uttered his pretty cry, "Cuckoo!
cuckoo cuckoo !" Miss Grizzel counted aloud,
" Seven, eight, nine, ten." "Yes, he never makes
a mistake," she added triumphantly. "All these
long years I have never known him wrong. There
18 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
are no such clocks made nowadays, I can assure
you, my dear."
But is it a clock ? Isn't he alive ? exclaimed
Griselda. "He looked at me and nodded his
head, before he flapped his wings and went in to
his house again-he did indeed, aunt," she said
earnestly; "just like saying, 'How do you do?'
Again Miss Grizzel smiled, the same odd yet
pleased smile that Griselda had seen on her face
at breakfast. "Just what Sybilla used to say,"
she murmured, "Well, my dear," she added
aloud, "it is quite right he should say, 'How do
you do ?' to you. It is the first time he has seen
you, though many a year ago he knew your dear
grandmother, and your father, too, when he was a
little boy. You will find him a good friend, and
one that can teach you many lessons."
"What, Aunt Grizzel?" inquired Griselda,
I.] THE OLD HO USE. 19
"Punctuality, for one thing, and faithful dis-
charge of duty," replied Miss Grizzel.
"iMay I come to see the cuckoo-to watch for
him coming out, sometimes ?" asked Griselda, who
felt as if she could spend all day looking up at the
clock, watching for her little friend's appearance.
"You will see him several times a da.y," said
her aunt, "for it is in this little room I intend you
to prepare your tasks. It is nice and quiet, and
nothing to disturb you, and close to the room
where your Aunt Tabitha and I usually sit."
So saying, Miss Grizzel opened a second door
in the little ante-room, and, to Griselda's surprise,
at the foot of a short flight of stairs through
another door, half open, she caught sight of her
Aunt Tabitha, knitting quietly by the fire, in the
room in which they had breakfasted.
"What a very funny house it is, Aunt Grizzel,"
she said, as she followed her aunt down the steps.
" Every room has so many doors, and you come
20 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
back to where you were just when you think you
are ever so far off. I shall never be able to find
my way about."
Oh yes, you will, my dear, very soon," said her
She is very kind," thought Griselda; "but I
wish she wouldn't call my lessons tasks. It
makes them sound so dreadfully hard. But, any
way, I'm glad I'm to do them in the room where
that dear cuckoo lives."
n.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 21
1M PATIENT GRISELDA.
". .. .fairies but seldom appear;
If we do wrong we must expect
That it will cost us dear! "
IT was all very well for a few days. Griselda
found plenty to amuse herself with while the
novelty lasted, enough to prevent her missing
very badly the home she had left over the sea,"
and the troop of noisy merry brothers who teased
and petted her. Of course she missed them, but
not dreadfully." She was neither homesick nor
It was not quite such smooth sailing when
lessons began. She did not dislike lessons; in
22 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
fact, she had always thought she was rather fond
of them. But the having to do them alone was
not lively, and her teachers were very strict. The
worst of all was the writing and arithmetic master,
a funny little old man who wore knee-breeches and
took snuff, and called her aunt Madame," bowing
formally whenever lie addressed her. He screwed
(riselda up into such an unnatural attitude to
write her copies, that she really felt as if she
would never come straight and loose again; and
the arithmetic part of his instructions was even
worse. Oh! what sums in addition he gave her!
Griselda liad never been partial to sums, and her
rather easy-going governess at home had not, to
tell the truth, been partial to them either. And
Mr.-I can't remember the little old gentleman's
name. Suppose we call him Mr. Kneebreeches-
Mr. Kneebreeches, when he found this out, con-
scientiously put her back to the very beginning.
It was dreadful, really. He came twice a
I.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 23
week, and the days he didn't come were as bad as
those he did, for he left her a whole row I was
going to say, but you couldn't call Mr. Knee-
breeches' addition sums "rows," they were far too
fat and wide across to be so spoken of!-whole
slatefuls of these terrible mountains of figures to
climb wearily to the top of. And not to climb
once up merely. The terrible thing was Mr. Knee-
breeches' favourite method of what he called
"proving." I can't explain it-it is far beyond
my poor powers-but it had something to do with
cutting off the top line, after you had added it all
up and had actually done the sum, you understand
-cutting off the top line and adding the long rows
up again without it, and then joining it on again
I wouldn't mind so much," said poor Griselda,
one day, "if it was any good. But you see, Aunt
Grizzel, it isn't. For I'm just as likely to do the
proving wrong as the sum itself-more likely, for
24 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
I'm always so tired when I get to the proving-and
so all that's proved is that something's wrong, and
I'm sure that isn't any good, except to make me
Hush said her aunt gravely. That is not
the way for a little girl to speak. Improve these
golden hours of youth, Griselda; they will never
"I hope not," muttered Griselda, "if it means
Miss Grizzel fortunately was a little deaf; she
did not hear this remark. Just then the cuckoo
clock struck eleven.
"Good little cuckoo," said Miss Grizzel. "What
an example he sets you. His life is spent in the
faithful discharge of duty;" and so saying she left
The cuckoo was still telling the hour-eleven
took a good while. It seemed to Griselda that the
bird repeated her aunt's last words. "Faith-ful,
ii.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 25
dis-charge, of-your, du-ty," he said, faith-
"You horrid little creature !" exclaimed Griselda
in a passion; "what business have you to mock
She seized a book, the first that/ came to hand,
and flung it at the bird who was just beginning
his eleventh cuckoo. He disappeared with a snap,
disappeared without flapping his wings, or, as
Griselda always fancied he did, giving her a
friendly nod, and in an instant all was silent.
Griselda felt a little frightened. What had she
done ? She looked up at the clock. It seemed
just the same as usual, the cuckoo's doors closely
shut, no sign of any disturbance. Could it have
been her fancy only that he had sprung back more
hastily than he would have done but for her throw-
ing the book at him ? She began to hope so, and
tried to go on with her lessons. But it was no use.
Though she really gave her best attention to the
26 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
long addition sums, and found that by so doing
she managed them much better than before, she
could not feel happy or at ease. Every few
minutes she glanced up at the clock, as if expect-
ing the cuckoo to come out, though she knew quite
well there was no chance of his doing so till twelve
o'clock, as it was only the hours, not the half
hours and quarters, that he told.
"I wish it was twelve o'clock," she said to her-
self anxiously more than once.
If only the clock had not been so very high up
on the wall, she would have been tempted to climb
up and open the little doors, and peep in to satisfy
herself as to the cuckoo's condition. But there
was no possibility of this. The clock was far, very
far above her reach, and there was no high piece
of furniture standing near, upon which she could
have climbed to get to it. There was nothing to
be done but to wait for twelve o'clock.
And, after all, she did not wait for twelve o'clock,
II.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 27
for just about half-past eleven, Miss Giizzel's voice
was heard calling to her to put on her hat and
cloak quickly, and come out to walk up and down
the terrace with her.
"It is fine just now," said Miss Grizzel, "but
there is a prospect of rain before long. You must
leave your lessons for the present, and finish them
in the afternoon."
I have finished them," said Griselda, meekly.
All inquired her aunt.
"Yes, all," replied Griselda.
Ah, well, then, this afternoon, if the rain holds
off, we shall drive to Merrybrow Hall, and inquire
for the health of your dear godmother, Lady
Lavander," said Miss Grizzel.
Poor Griselda! There were few things she
disliked more than a drive with her aunts. They
went in the old yellow chariot, with all the windows
up, and of course Griselda had to sit with her back
to the horses, which made her very uncomfortable
28 THE CUCKOO CL 0 CK. [CHAP
when she had no air, and had to sit still for so
Merrybrow Hall was a large house, quite as
old and much grander, but not nearly so wonderful
as the home of Griselda's aunts. It was six miles
off, and it took a very long time indeed to drive
there in the rumbling old chariot, for the old
horses were fat and wheezy, and the old coachman
fat and wheezy too. Lady Lavander was, of
course, old too-very old indeed, and rather grumpy
and very deaf. Miss Grizzel and Miss Tabitha
had the greatest respect for her; she always called
them My dear," as if they were quite girls, and
they listened to all she said as if her words were of
gold. For some mysterious reason she had been
invited to be Griselda's godmother; but, as she
had never shown her any proof of affection beyond
giving her a prayer-book, and hoping, whenever
she saw her, that she was "a good little miss,"
Griselda did not feel any particular cause for grati-
tude to her.
.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 29
The drive seemed longer and duller than ever
this afternoon, but Griselda bore it meekly; and
when Lady Lavander, as usual, expressed her
hopes about her, the little girl looked down
modestly, feeling her cheeks grow scarlet. "I am
not a good little girl at all," she felt inclined to
call out. "I'm very bad and cruel. I believe I've
killed the dear little cuckoo."
What would the three old ladies have thought if
she had called it out ? As it was, Lady Lavander
patted her approvingly, said she loved to see
young people modest and humble-minded, and
gave her a slice of very highly-spiced, rather
musty gingerbread, which Griselda couldn't bear.
All the way home Griselda felt in a fever of
impatience to rush up to the ante-room and see if
the cuckoo was all right again. It was late and
dark when the chariot at last stopped at the door
of the old house. Miss Grizzel got out slowly,
and still more slowly Miss Tabitha followed her.
30 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
Griselda was obliged to restrain herself and move
"It is past your supper-time, my dear," said
Miss Grizzel. "Go up at once to your room, and
Dorcas shall bring some supper to you. Late
hours are bad for young people."
Griselda obediently wished her aunts good-night,
and went quietly upstairs. But once out of sight,
at the first landing, she changed her pace. She
turned to the left instead of to the right, which led
to her own room, and flew rather than ran along
the dimly-lighted passage, at the end of which a
door led into the great saloon. She opened the
door. All was quite dark. It was impossible to fly
or run across the great saloon Even in daylight
this would have been a difficult matter. Griselda
felt her way as best she could, past the Chinese
cabinet and the pot-pourri jar, till she got to the
ante-room door. It was open, and now, knowing
her way better, she hurried in. But what was the
II.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 31
use ? All was silent, save the tick-tick of the
cuckoo clock in the corner. Oh, if only the
cuckoo would come out and call the hour as usual,
what a weight would be lifted off Griselda's heart!
She had no idea what o'clock it was. It might
be close to the hour, or it might be just past it.
She stood listening for a few minutes, then hear-
ing Miss Grizzel's voice in the distance, she felt
that she dared not stay any longer, and turned to
feel her way out of the room again. Just as she
got to the door it seemed to her that something
softly brushed her cheek, and a very, very faint
"cuckoo" sounded as it were in the air close to
Startled, but not frightened, Griselda stood
"Cuckoo," she said, softly. But there was no
Again the tones of Miss Grizzel's voice coming
upstairs reached her ear.
32 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"I must go," said Griselda; and finding her way
across the saloon without, by great good luck,
tumbling against any of the many breakable
treasures with which it was filled, she flew down
the long passage again, reaching her own room
just before Dorcas appeared with her supper.
G-riselda slept badly that night. She was
constantly dreaming of the cuckoo, fancying she
heard his voice, and then waking with a start. to
find it was only fancy. She looked pale and
heavy-eyed when she came down to breakfast
the next morning; and her Aunt Tabitha, who
was alone in the room when she entered, began
immediately asking her what was the matter.
I am sure you are going to be ill, child," she
said, nervously. Sister Grizzel must give you
some medicine. I wonder what would be the best.
Tansy tea is an excellent thing when one has taken
cold, or-- "
But the rest of Miss Tabitha's sentence was
Ii.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 33
never heard, for at this moment Miss Grizzel
came hurriedly into the room-her cap awry,
her shawl disarranged, her face very pale. I
hardly think any one had ever seen her so discom-
Sister Tabitha!" she exclaimed, "what can
be going to happen? The cuckoo clock has
The cuckoo clock has stopped!" repeated Miss
Tabitha, holding up her hands; impossible! "
"But it has, or rather I should say-dear me,
I am so upset I cannot explain myself-the cuckoo
has stopped. The clock is going on, but the
cuckoo has not told the hours, and Dorcas is of
opinion that he left off doing so yesterday. What
can be going to happen ? What shall we do ? "
"What can we do ?" said Miss Tabitha.
" Should we send for the watch-maker ?"
Miss Grizzel shook her head.
"'Twould be worse than useless. Were we to
34 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
search the world over, we could find no one to
put it right. Fifty years and more, Tabitha, fifty
years and more, it has never missed an hour! We
are getting old, Tabitha, our day is nearly over;
perhaps 'tis to remind us of this."
Miss Tabitha did not reply. She was weeping
silently. The old ladies seemed to have forgotten
the presence of their niece, but Griselda could
not bear to see their distress. She finished her
breakfast as quickly as she could, and left the
On her way upstairs she met Dorcas.
"IHave you heard what has happened, little
missie? said the old servant.
Yes," replied Griselda.
"My ladies are in great trouble," continued
Dorcas, who seemed inclined to be more com-
municative than usual, "and no wonder. For
fifty years that clock has never gone wrong."
"Can't it be put right ? asked the child.
.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 35
Dorcas shook her head.
"No good would come of interfering," she said.
"What must be, must be. The luck of the house
hangs on that clock. Its maker spent a good part
of his life over it, and his last words were that it
would bring good luck to the house that owned
it, but that trouble would follow its silence. It's
my belief," she added solemnly, that it's a fairy
clock, neither more nor less, for good luck it has
brought there's no denying. There are no cows
like ours, missie-their milk is a proverb here-
abouts; there are no hens like ours for laying all
the year round; there are no roses like ours.
And there's always a friendly feeling in this house,
and always has been. 'Tis not a house for wran-
gling and jangling, and sharp words. The 'good
people' can't stand that. Nothing drives them
away like ill-temper or anger."
Griselda's conscience gave her a sharp prick.
Could it be her doing that trouble was coming
36 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
upon the old house ? What a punishment for a
moment's fit of ill-temper.
"I wish you wouldn't talk that way, Dorcas,"
she said; "it makes me so unhappy."
"What a feeling heart the child has! said the
old servant as she went on her way downstairs.
"It's true-she is very like Miss Sybilla."
That day was a very weary and sad one for
Griselda. She was oppressed by a feeling she
did not understand. She knew she had done
wrong, but she had sorely repented it, and "I do
think the cuckoo might have come back again,"
she said to herself, "if he is a fairy; and if he isn't,
it can't be true what Dorcas says."
Her aunts made no allusion to the subject in
her presence, and almost seemed to have forgotten
that she had known of their distress. They were
more grave and silent than usual, but otherwise
things went on in their ordinary way. Griselda
spent the morning "at her tasks," in the ante-
i.] IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 37
room, but was thankful to get away from the tick-
tick of the clock in the corner and out into the
But there, alas it was just as bad. The rooks
seemed to know that something was the matter;
they set to work making such a chatter immediately
Griselda appeared that she felt inclined to run back
into the house again.
"I am sure they are talking about me," she
said to herself. "Perhaps they are fairies too.
I am beginning to think I don't like fairies."
She was glad when bed-time came. It was a
sort of reproach to her to see her aunts so pale
and troubled; and though she tried to persuade
herself that she thought them very silly, she could
not throw off the uncomfortable feeling.
She was so tired when she went to bed-tired in
the disagreeable way that comes from a listless,
uneasy day-that she fell asleep at once and slept
heavily. When she woke, which she did suddenly,
38 THE CUCKOO CL 0CK. [CHAP.
and with a start, it was still perfectly dark, like the
first morning that she had wakened in the old
house. It seemed to her that she had not wakened
of herself-something had roused her. Yes! there
it was again, a very, very soft distant "cuckoo."
Was it distant ? She could not tell. Almost she
could have fancied it was close to her.
If it's that cuckoo come back again, I'll catch
him!" exclaimed Griselda.
She darted out of bed, felt her way to the door,
which was closed, and opening it let in a rush of
moonlight from the unshuttered passage window.
In another moment her little bare feet were pat-
tering along the passage at full speed, in the
direction of the great saloon.
For Griselda's childhood among the troop of
noisy brothers had taught her one lesson-she
was afraid of nothing. Or rather perhaps I should
say she had never learnt that there was anything
to be afraid of! And is there ?
II.] OBEYING ORDERS. 39
Little girl, thou must thy part fulfil,
If we're to take kindly to ours:
Then pull up the weeds with a will,
And fairies will cherish the flowers."
THERE Was moonlight, though not so much, in the
saloon and the ante-room, too; for though the
windows, like those in Griselda's bed-room, had the
shutters closed, there was a round part at the top,
high up, which the shutters did not reach to, and
in crept, through these clear uncovered panes,
quite as many moonbeams, you may be sure, as
could find their way.
Griselda, eager though she was, could not help
standing still a moment to admire the effect.
40 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"It looks prettier with the light coming in at
those holes at the top than even if the shutters
were open," she said to herself. How goldy-
silvery the cabinet looks; and, yes, I do declare,
tlhe mandarins are nodding I wonder if it is out
of politeness to me, or does Aunt Grizzel come in
last thing at night and touch them to make them
keep nodding till morning ? I suppose they're a
sort of policemen to the palace; and I dare say
there are all sorts of beautiful things inside. How
I should like to see all through it !"
But at this moment the faint tick-tick of the
cuckoo clock in the next room, reaching her ear,
reminded her of the object of this midnight
expedition of hers. She hurried into the ante-
It looked darker than the great saloon, for it had
but one window. But through the uncovered space
at the top of this window there penetrated some
brilliant moonbeams, one of which lighted up
i j\ till
" WHY WON T YOU SPEAK TO ME?" [Page 4T.
III.] OBEYING ORDERS. 41
brightly the face of the clock with its queer over-
Griselda approached it and stood below, looking
"Cuckoo," she said softly-very softly.
But there was no reply.
"Cuckoo," she repeated rather more loudly.
"Why won't you speak to me ? I know you are
there, and you're not asleep, for I heard your
voice in my own room. Why won't you come out,
"Tick-tick" said the clock, but there was no
Griselda felt ready to cry.
"Cuckoo," she said reproachfully, "I didn't
think you were so hard-hearted. I have been so
unhappy about you, and I was so pleased to hear
your voice again, for I thought I had killed you, or
hurt you very badly; and I didn't mean to hurt
you, cuckoo. I was sorry the moment I had done
42 THE CUCKOO CLOCK, [CHAP.
it, dreadfully sorry. Dear cuckoo, won't you
forgive me ? "
There was a little sound at last-a faint coming
sound, and by the moonlight Griselda saw the
doors open, and out flew the cuckoo. He stood
still for a moment, looked round him as it were,
then gently flapped his wings, and uttered his
usual note-" Cuckoo."
Griselda stood in breathless expectation, but in
her delight she could not help very softly clapping
The cuckoo cleared his throat. You never heard
such a funny little noise as he made; and then, in
a very clear, distinct, but yet "cuckoo-y" voice, he
Griselda," he said, are you truly sorry ?"
"I told you I was," she replied. "But I didn't
feel so very naughty, cuckoo. I didn't, really.
I was only vexed for one minute, and when I threw
the book I seemed to be a very little in fun, too.
iI.] OBEYING ORDERS. 43
And it made me so unhappy when you went away,
and my poor aunts have been dreadfully unhappy
too. If you hadn't come back I should have told
them to-morrow what I had done. I would have
told them before, but I was afraid it would have
made them more unhappy. I thought I had hurt
So you did," said the cuckoo.
But you look quite well," said Griselda.
"It was my feelings," replied the cuckoo; "and
I couldn't help going away. I have to obey orders
like other people."
Griselda stared. "How do you mean?" she
Never mind. You can't understand at pre-
sent," said the cuckoo. "You can understand
about obeying your orders, and you see, when you
don't, things go wrong."
"Yes," said Griselda humbly, "they certainly
do. But, cuckoo," she continued, "I never used
44 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
to get into tempers at home-hardly never, at
least; and I liked my lessons then, and I never was
scolded about them."
"What's wrong here, then?" said the cuckoo.
"It isn't often that things go wrong in this house."
"That's what Dorcas says," said Griselda.
"It must be with my being a child-my aunts and
the house and everything have got out of children's
About time they did," remarked the cuckoo
"And so," continued Griselda, it is really very
dull. I have lots of lessons, but it isn't so much
that I mind. It is that I've no one to play with."
There's something in that," said the cuckoo.
He flapped his wings and was silent for a minute
or two. "I'll consider about it," he observed at
"Thank you," said Griselda, not exactly knowing
what else to say.
II.] OBEYING ORDERS. 45
"And in the meantime," continued the cuckoo,
"you'd better obey present orders and go back to
"Shall I say good-night to you, then asked
Griselda somewhat timidly.
"You're quite welcome to do so," replied the
cuckoo. Why shouldn't you ? "
"You see I wasn't sure if you would like it,"
returned Griselda, "for of course you're not like
a person, and-and-I've been told all sorts of
queer things about what fairies like and don't
"Who said I was a fairy? inquired the cuckoo.
"Dorcas did, and, of course, my own common
sense did too," replied Griselda. You must be a
fairy-you couldn't be anything else."
"I might be a fairyfied cuckoo," suggested the
Griselda looked puzzled.
"I don't understand," she said, "and I don't
46 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
think it could make much difference. But what-
ever you are, I wish you would tell me one thing."
What ? said the cuckoo.
I want to know, now that you've forgiven me
for throwing the book at you, have you come back
for good ? "
Certainly not for evil," replied the cuckoo.
Griselda gave a little wriggle. Cuckoo, you're
laughing at me," she said. "I mean, have you
come back to stay and cuckoo as usual and make
my aunts happy again ? "
"You'll see in the morning," said the cuckoo.
"Now go off to bed."
Good night," said Griselda, "and thank you,
and please don't forget to let me know when you've
"Cuckoo, cuckoo," was her little friend's reply.
Griselda thought it was meant for good night, but
the fact of the matter was that at that exact second
of time it was two o'clock in the morning.
II.] OBEYING ORDERS. 47
She made her way back to bed. She had been
standing some time talking to the cuckoo, but,
though it was now well on in November, she did
not feel the least cold, nor sleepy! She felt as
happy and light-hearted as possible, and she
wished it was morning, that she might get up.
Yet the moment she laid her little brown curly
head on the pillow, she fell asleep; and it seemed
to her that just as she dropped off a soft feathery
wing brushed her cheek gently and a tiny "Cuckoo"
sounded in her ear.
When she woke it was bright morning, really
bright morning, for the wintry sun was already
sending some clear yellow rays out into the pale
It must be late," thought Griselda, when she
had opened the shutters and seen how light it was.
I must have slept a long time. I feel so beauti-
fully unsleepy now. I must dress quickly-how
nice it will be to see my aunts look happy again!
48 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
I don't even care if they scold me for being
But, after all, it was not so much later than
usual; it was only a much brighter morning than
they had had for some time. Griselda did dress her-
self very quickly, however. As she went downstairs
two or three of the clocks in the house, for there
were several, were striking eight. These clocks must
have been a little before the right time, for it was
not till they had again relapsed into silence that
there rang out from the ante-room the clear sweet
tones, eight times repeated, of Cuckoo."
Miss Grizzel and Miss Tabitha were already at
the breakfast-table, but they received their little
niece most graciously. Nothing was said about
the clock, however, till about half-way through
the meal, when Griselda, full of eagerness to know
if her aunts were aware of the cuckoo's return,
could restrain herself no longer.
"Aunt Grizzel," she said, "isn't the cuckoo
all right again ?"
ni.] OBEYING ORDERS. 49
"Yes, my dear. I am delighted to say it is,"
replied Miss Grizzel.
"Did you get it put right, Aunt Grizzel?"
inquired Griselda, slyly.
"Little girls should not ask so many questions,"
replied Miss Grizzel, mysteriously. "It is all
right again, and that is enough. During fifty
years that cuckoo has never, till yesterday, missed
an hour. If you, in your sphere, my dear, do as
well during fifty years, you won't have done
"No, indeed, you won't have done badly,"
repeated Miss Tabitha.
But though the two old ladies thus tried to
improve the occasion by a little lecturing, Griselda
could see that at the bottom of their hearts they
were both so happy that, even if she had been very
naughty indeed, they could hardly have made up
their minds to scold her.
She was not at all inclined to be naughty this
50 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
day. She had something to think about and look
forward to, which made her quite a different little
girl, and made her take heart in doing her lessons
as well as she possibly could.
"I wonder when the cuckoo will have considered
enough about my having no one to play with ? "
she said to herself, as she was walking up and
down the terrace at the back of the house.
"Caw, caw!" screamed a rook just over her
head, as if in answer to her thought.
Griselda looked up at him.
"Your voice isn't half so pretty as the cuckoo's,
Mr. Rook," she said. "All the same, I dare say
I should make friends with you, if I understood
what you meant. How funny it would be to know
all the languages of the birds and the beasts, like
the prince in the fairy tale! I wonder if I should
wish for that, if a fairy gave me a wish? No,
I don't think I would. I'd far rather have the
fairy carpet that would take you anywhere you
ui.] OBEYING ORDERS. 51
liked in a minute. I'd go to China to see if all
the people there look like Aunt Grizzel's mandarins;
and I'd first of all, of course, go to fairyland."
"You must come in now, little missie," said
Dorcas's voice. "Miss Grizzel says you have had
play enough, and there's a nice fire in the ante-
room for you to do your lessons by."
"Play!" repeated Griselda indignantly, as she
turned to follow the old servant. "Do you call
walking up and down the terrace 'play,' Dorcas ?
I mustn't loiter even to pick a flower, if there were
any, for fear of catching cold, and I mustn't run
for fear of overheating myself. I declare, Dorcas,
if I don't have some play soon, or something to
amuse me, I think I'll run away."
Nay, nay, missie, don't talk like that. You'd
never do anything so naughty, and you so like
Miss Sybilla, who was so good."
Dorcas, I'm tired of being told I'm like Miss
Sybilla said Griselda, impatiently. She was
52 THE CUCKOO CLO CK. [CHAP.
my grandmother; no one would like to be told
they were like their grandmother. It makes me
feel as if my face must be all screwy up and
wrinkly, and as if I should have spectacles on
and a wig."
That is not like what Miss Sybilla was when
I first saw her," said Dorcas. She was younger
than you, missie, and as pretty as a fairy."
Was she ? exclaimed Griselda, stopping short.
"Yes, indeed she was. She might have been
a fairy, so sweet she was and gentle-and yet so
merry. Every creature loved her; even the
animals about seemed to know her, as if she was
one of themselves. She brought good luck to the
house, and it was a sad day when she left it."
"I thought you said it was the cuckoo that
brought good luck?" said Griselda.
"Well, so it was. The cuckoo and Miss Sybilla
came here the same day. It was left to her by
her mother's father, with whom she had lived
in.] OBEYING ORDERS. 53
since she was a baby, and when he died she came
here to her sisters. She wasn't own sister to my
ladies, you see, missie. Her mother had come
from Germany, and it was in some strange place
there, where her grandfather lived, that the cuckoo
clock was made. They make wonderful clocks
there, I've been told, but none more wonderful
than our cuckoo, I'm sure."
"No, I'm sure not," said Griselda, softly.
"Why didn't Miss Sybilla take it with her when
she was married and went away ? "
She knew her sisters were so fond of it. It
was like a memory of her left behind for them.
It was like a part of her. And do you know,
missile, the night she died-she died soon after your
father was born, a year after she was married-
for a whole hour, from twelve to one, that cuckoo
went on cuckooing in a soft, sad way, like some
living creature in trouble. Of course, we did not
know anything was wrong with her, and folks said
54 THE CUCKOO CL0CK. [CHAP.
something had caught some of the springs of the
works; but I didn't think so, and never shall.
But here Dorcas's reminiscences were abruptly
brought to a close by Miss Grizzel's appearance at
the other end of the terrace.
Griselda, what are you loitering so for ?
Dorcas, you should have hastened, not delayed
So Griselda was hurried off to her lessons, and
Dorcas to her kitchen. But Griselda did not much
mind. She had plenty to think of and wonder
about, and she liked to do her lessons in the ante-
room, with the tick-tick of the clock in her ears, and
the feeling that perhaps the cuckoo was watching
her through some invisible peep-hole in his closed
"And if he sees," thought Griselda, "if he sees
how hard I am trying to do my lessons well, it will
perhaps make him be quick about considering.'"
II.] OBEYING ORDERS. 55
So she did try very hard. And she didn't speak
to the cuckoo when he came out to say it was four
o'clock. She was busy, and he was busy. She
felt it was better to wait till he gave her some
sign of being ready to talk to her again.
For fairies, you know, children, however charm-
ing, are sometimes rather queer to have to do with.
They don't like to be interfered with, or treated
except with very great respect, and they have their
own ideas about what is proper and what isn't, I
can assure you.
I suppose it was with working so hard at her
lessons-most people would say it was with having
been up the night before, running about the house
in the moonlight; but as she had never felt so
"fresh" in her life as when she got up that
morning, it could hardly have been that-that
Griselda felt so tired and sleepy that evening, she
could hardly keep her eyes open. She begged to
go to bed quite half an hour earlier than usual,
56 THE CUCKO 0 CLOCK. [CGAP.
which made Miss Tabitha afraid again that she
was going to be ill. But as there is nothing better
for children than to go to bed early, even if they
are going to be ill, Miss Grizzel told her to say
good-night, and to ask Dorcas to give her a wine-
glassful of elderberry wine, nice and hot, after she
was in bed.
Griselda had no objection to the elderberry wine,
though she felt she was having it on false pretences.
She certainly did not need it to send her to sleep,
for almost before her head touched the pillow she
was as sound as a top. She had slept a good long
while, when again she wakened suddenly-just as
she had done the night before, and again with the
feeling that something had wakened her. And the
queer thing was that the moment she was awake
she felt so very awake-she had no inclination to
stretch and yawn and hope it wasn't quite time to
get up, and think how nice and warm bed was, and
how cold it was outside! She sat straight up, and
III.] OBEYING ORDERS. 57
peered out into the darkness, feeling quite ready for
"Is it you, cuckoo ? she said softly.
There was no answer, but listening intently, the
child fancied she heard a faint rustling or fluttering
in the corner of the room by the door. She got
up and, feeling her way, opened it, and the instant
she had done so she heard, a few steps only in
front of her it seemed, the familiar notes, very,
very soft and whispered, Cuckoo, cuckoo."
It went on and on, down the passage, Griselda
trotting after. There was no moon to-night, heavy
clouds had quite hidden it, and outside the rain
was falling heavily. Griselda could hear it on the
window-panes, through the closed shutters and all.
But dark as it was, she made her way along with-
out any difficulty, down the passage, across the
great saloon, in through the ante-room door,
guided only by the little voice now and then to be
heard in front of her. She came to a standstill
58 THE CUCK 0 O CLOCK. [CHAP.
right before the clock, and stood there for a minute
or two patiently waiting.
She had not very long to wait. There came the
usual murmuring sound, then the doors above the
clock face opened-she heard them open, it was
far too dark to see-and in his ordinary voice, clear
and distinct (it was just two o'clock, so the cuckoo
was killing two birds with one stone, telling the
hour and greeting Griselda at once), the bird sang
out, "Cuckoo, cuckoo."
"Good evening, cuckoo," said Griselda, when he
Good morning, you mean," said the cuckoo.
"Good morning, then, cuckoo," said Griselda.
"Have you considered about me, cuckoo ? "
The cuckoo cleared his throat.
"Have you learnt to obey orders yet, Griselda ?"
"I'm trying," replied Griselda. "But you see,
cuckoo, I've not had very long to learn in-it was
only last night you told me, you know."
m.] OBEYING ORDERS, 59
The cuckoo sighed.
"You've a great deal to learn, Griselda."
"I dare say I have," she said. "But I can tell
you one thing, cuckoo-whatever lessons I have, I
couldn't ever have any worse than those addition
sums of Mr. Kneebreeches'. I have made up
my mind about that, for to-day, do you know,
Yesterday," corrected the cuckoo. "Always De
exact in your statements, Griselda."
"Well, yesterday, then," said Griselda, rather
tartly; "though when you know quite well what I
mean, I don't see that you need be so very par-
ticular. Well, as I was saying, I tried and tried,
but still they were fearful. They were, indeed."
"You've a great deal to learn, Griselda," re-
peated the cuckoo.
"I wish you wouldn't say that so often," said
Griselda. "I thought you were going to play
60 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"There's something in that," said the cuckoo,
"there's something in that. I should like to talk
about it. But we could talk more comfortably if
you would come up here and sit beside me."
Griselda thought her friend must be going out of
Sit beside you up there!" she exclaimed.
"Cuckoo, how could I ? I'm far, far too big."
"Big!" returned the cuckoo. "What do you
mean by big ? It's all a matter of fancy. Don't
you know that if the world and everything in it,
counting yourself of course, was all made little
enough to go into a walnut, you'd never find out
"Wouldn't I?" said Griselda, feeling rather
muddled; "but, not counting myself, cuckoo, I
would then, wouldn't I ? "
"Nonsense," said the cuckoo hastily; "you've a
great deal to learn, and one thing is, not to argue.
Nobody should argue; it's a shocking bad habit,
"i.] OBEYING ORDERS. 61
and ruins the digestion. Come up here and sit
beside me comfortably. Catch hold of the chain;
you'll find you can manage if you try.
"But it'll stop the clock," said Griselda. "Aunt
Grizzel said I was never to touch the weights or
Stuff," said the cuckoo; "it won't stop the
clock. Catch hold of the chains and swing your-
self up. There now-I told you you could manage
62 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
THE COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS.
"We're all nodding, nid-nid-nodding."
How she managed it she never knew; but, some-
how or other, it was managed. She seemed to
slide up the chain just as easily as in a general
way she would have slidden down, only without
any disagreeable anticipation of a bump at the end
of the journey. And when she got to the top how
wonderfully different it looked from anything she
could have expected! The doors stood open, and
Griselda found them quite big enough, or herself
quite small enough-which it was she couldn't
tell, and as it was all a matter of fancy she
Iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 63
decided not to trouble to inquire-to pass through
And inside there was the most charming little
snuggery imaginable. It was something like a
saloon railway carriage-it seemed to be all lined
and carpeted and everything, with rich mossy red
velvet; there was a little round table in the middle
and two arm-chairs, on one of which sat the
cuckoo-" quite like other people," thought
Griselda to herself-while the other, as he pointed
out to Grisclda by a little nod, was evidently
intended for her.
"Thank you," said she. sitting down on the
chair as she spoke.
Are you comfortable ? inquired the cuckoo.
Quite," replied Griselda, looking about her
with great satisfaction. "Are all cuckoo clocks
like this when you get up inside them?" she
inquired. "I can't think how there's room for
this dear little place between the clock and the
64 THE CUCK OO C LO [ CHAP.
wall. Is it a hole cut out of the wall on purpose,
cuckoo ? "
"Hush!" said the cuckoo, "we've got other
things to talk about. First, shall I lend you one of
my mantles ? You may feel cold."
"I don't just now," replied Griselda; "but per-
haps I might."
She looked at her little bare feet as she spoke,
and wondered why they weren't cold, for it was
very chilblainy weather.
The cuckoo stood up, and with one of his claws
reached from a corner where it was hanging a
cloak which Griselda had not before noticed. For
it was hanging wrong side out, and the lining was
red velvet, very like what the sides of the little
room were covered with, so it was no wonder share
had not noticed it.
Had it been hanging the right side out she must
have done so; this side was so very wonderful!
It was all feathers--feathers of every shade and
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MAiNDAUINS. 65
colour, but beautifully worked in, somehow, so as to
lie quite smoothly and evenly, one colour melting
away into another like those in a prism, so that
you could hardly tell where one began and another
What a lovely cloak!" said Griselda, wrapping
it round her and feeling even more comfortable
than before, as she watched the rays of the little
lamp in the roof-I think I was forgetting to tell
you that the cuckoo's boudoir was lighted by a
dear little lamp set into the red velvet roof like
a pearl in a ring-playing softly on the brilliant
colours of the feather mantle.
It's better than lovely," said the cuckoo, as
you shall see. Now, Griselda," he continued, in
the tone of one coming to business-" now,
Griselda, let us talk."
We have been talking," said Griselda, "ever
so long. I am very comfortable. When you say
'let us talk' like that, it makes me forget all I
66 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
wanted to say. Just let me sit still and say what-
ever comes into my head."
"That won't do," said the cuckoo; "we must
have a plan of action."
A what ? said Griselda.
You see you have a great deal to learn," said
the cuckoo triumphantly. "You don't understand
what I say."
But I didn't come up here to learn," said
Griselda; "I can do that down there;" and she
nodded her head in the direction of the ante-room
table. "I want to play."
"Just so," said the cuckoo; "that's what I
want to talk about. What do you call 'play'-
blindman's-buff and that sort of thing ?"
"No," said Griselda, considering. I'm getting
rather too big for that kind of play. Besides,
cuckoo, you and I alone couldn't have much fun at
blindman's-buff; there'd be only me to catch you
or you to catch me."
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDAR INS. 67
Oh, we could easily get more," said the cuckoo.
"The mandarins would be pleased to join."
"The mandarins !" repeated Griselda. "Why,
cuckoo, they're not alive How could they play ? "
The cuckoo looked at her gravely for a minute,
then shook his head.
"You have a great deal to learn," he said
solemnly. "Don't you know that everything's
"No," said Griselda, "I don't: and I don't
know what you mean, and I don't think I want to
know what you mean. I want to talk about
"Well," said the cuckoo, "talk."
"What I call playing," pursued Griselda, "is-
I have thought about it now, you see-is being
amused. If you will amuse me, cuckoo, I will
count that you are playing with me."
How shall I amuse you ? inquired he.
"Oh, that's for you to find out!" exclaimed
68 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [cIArP.
Griselda. "You might tell me fairy stories, you
know: if you're a fairy you should know lots; or-
oh yes, of course that would be far nicer-if you
are a fairy you might take me with you to fairy-
Again the cuckoo shook his head.
That," said he, "I cannot do."
"Why not ? said Griselda. "Lots of children
have been there."
"I doubt it," said the cuckoo. "Some may
have been, but not lots. And some may have
thought they had been there who hadn't really
been there at all. And as to those who have been
there, you may be sure of one thing-they were not
taken, they found their own way. No one ever was
taken to fairyland-to the real fairyland. They
may have been taken to the neighboring countries,
but not to fairyland itself."
"And how is one ever to find one's own way
there ? asked Griselda.
Iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 69
"That I cannot tell you either," replied the
cuckoo. There are many roads there; you may
find yours some day. And if ever you do find it,
be sure you keep what you see of ,it well swept and
clean, and then you may see further after a while.
Ah, yes, there are many roads and many doors
into fairyland "
"Doors cried Griselda. "Are there any doors
into fairyland in this house ?"
"Several," said the cuckoo; "but don't waste
your time looking for them at present. It would
be no use."
"Then how will you amuse me inquired
(Griselda, in a rather disappointed tone.
"Don't you care to go anywhere except to fairy-
land ? said the cuckoo.
"Oh yes, there are lots of places I wouldn't
mind seeing. Not geography sort of places--it
would be just like lessons to go to India and
Africa and all those places-but queer places, like
70 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
the mines where the goblins make diamonds and
precious stones, and the caves down under the sea
where the mermaids live. And-oh, I've just
thought-now I'm so nice and little, I would like
to go all over the mandarins' palace in the great
That can be easily managed," said the cuckoo;
"hut-excuse me for an instant," he exclaimed
suddenly. He gave a spring forward and dis-
appeared. Then Griselda heard his voice outside
the doors, "Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo." It was
The doors opened again to let him through, and
he re-settled himself on his chair. "As I was
saying," he went on, "nothing could be easier.
But that palace, as you call it, has an entrance on
the other side, as well as the one you know."
"Another door, do you mean ?" said Griselda.
"How funny Does it go through the wall ? An I
where does it lead to ?"
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 71
'It leads," replied the cuckoo, "it leads to the
country of the Nodding Mandarins."
What fun !" exclaimed Griselda, clapping her
hands. "Cuckoo, do let us go there. How can
we get down ? You can fly, but must I slide down
the chain again ?"
Oh dear, no," said the cuckoo, by no means.
You have only to stretch out your feather mantle,
flap it as if it was wings-so "-he flapped his own
wings encouragingly-" wish, and there you'll be."
"Where ? said Griselda bewilderedly.
Wherever you wish to be, of course," said the
cuckoo. "Are you ready ? Here goes."
"Wait wait a moment," cried Griselda.
" Where am I to wish to be ?"
Bless the child! exclaimed the cuckoo.
"Where do you wish to be? You said you wanted
to visit the country of the Nodding Mandarins."
Yes; but am I to wish first to be in the palace
in the great saloon ?"
72 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [ChAP.
"Certainly," replied the cuckoo. That is the
entrance to Mandarin Land, and you said you
would like to see through it. So-vou're surely
ready now ? "
"A thought has just struck me," said Griselda.
"How will you know what o'clock it is, so as to
come back in time to tell the next hour? My
aunts will get into such a fright if you go wrong
again! Are you sure we shall have time to go
to the mandarins' country to-night ? "
Time! repeated the cuckoo; "what is time ?
Ah, Griselda, you have a very great deal to learn!
What do you mean by time ?"
I don't know," replied Griselda, feeling rather
snubbed. Being slow or quick-I suppose that's
what I mean."
"And what is slow, and what is quick?" said
the cuckoo. "All a matter of fancy! If every-
thing that's been done since the world was made
till now, was done over again in five minutes, you'd
never know the difference."
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 73
Oh, cuckoo, I wish you wouldn't!" cried poor
Griselda; "you're worse than sums, you do so
puzzle me. It's like what you said about nothing
being big or little, only it's worse. Where would
all the days and hours be if there ,was nothing but
minutes ? Oh, cuckoo, you said you'd amuse me,
and you do nothing but puzzle me."
"It was your own fault. You wouldn't get
ready," said the cuckoo. "Now, here goes! Flap
Griselda flapped and wished. She felt a sort of
rustle in the air, that was all-then she found
herself standing with the cuckoo in front of the
Chinese cabinet, the door of which stood open,
while the mandarins on each side, nodding
politely, seemed to invite them to enter. Griselda
"Go on," said the cuckoo, patronizingly;
Griselda went on. To her surprise, inside the
74 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
cabinet it was quite light, though where the light
came from that illuminated all the queer corners
and recesses and streamed out to the front, where
stood the mandarins, she could not discover.
The palace was not quite as interesting as she
had expected. There were lots of little rooms in it
opening on to balconies commanding, no doubt,
a splendid view of the great saloon; there were
ever so many little staircases leading to more little
rooms and balconies; but it all seemed empty and
"I don't care for it," said Griselda, stopping
short at last; "it's all the same, and there's nothing
to see. I thought my aunts kept ever so many
beautiful things in here, and there's nothing."
Come along, then," said the cuckoo. "I didn't
expect you'd care for the palace, as you called it,
much. Let us go out the other way."
He hopped down a sort of little staircase near
which they were standing, and Griselda followed
Iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 75
him willingly enough. At the foot they found
themselves in a vestibule, much handsomer than
the entrance at the other side, and the cuckoo,
crossing it, lifted one of his claws and touched
a spring in the wall. Instantly a pair of large
doors flew open in the middle, revealing to Griselda
the prettiest and most curious sight she had ever
A flight of wide shallow steps led down from this
doorway into a long, long avenue bordered by stiffly
growing trees, from the branches of which hung
innumerable lamps of every colour, making a
perfect network of brilliance as far as the eye
Oh, how lovely !" cried Griselda, clapping her
hands. "It'll be like walking along a rainbow.
Cuckoo, come quick."
"Stop," said the cuckoo; "we've a good way to
go. There's no need to walk. Palanquin! "
He flapped his wings, and instantly a palanquin
76 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
appeared at the foot of the steps. It was made
of carved ivory, and borne by four Chinese-looking
figures with pigtails and bright-coloured jackets.
A feeling came over Griselda that she was dream-
ing, or else that she had seen this palanquin before.
She hesitated. Suddenly she gave a little jump
"I know," she exclaimed. "It's exactly like the
one that stands under a glass shade on Lady
Lavander's drawing-room mantelpiece. I wonder
if it is the very one ? Fancy me being able to get
into it !"
She looked at the four bearers. Instantly they
What do they mean ?" asked Griselda, turning
to the cuckoo.
Get in," he replied.
Yes, I'm just going to get in," she said; "but
what do they mean when they nod at me like
Iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 77
"They mean, of course, what I tell you--'Get
in,' said the cuckoo.
"Why don't they say so, then?" persisted
Griselda, getting in, however, as she spoke.
Griselda, you have a very great- began
the cuckoo, but Griselda interrupted him.
Cuckoo," she exclaimed, "if you say that
again, I'll jump out of the palanquin and run away
home to bed. Of course I've a great deal to learn
-that's why I like to ask questions about every-
thing I see. Now, tell me where we are going."
"In the first place," said the cuckoo, "are you
comfortable ? "
"Very," said Griselda, settling herself down
among the cushions.
It was a change from the cuckoo's boudoir.
There were no chairs or seats, only a number
of very, very soft cushions covered with green silk.
There were green silk curtains all round, too, which
you could draw or not as you pleased, just by
78 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
touching a spring. Griselda stroked the silk
gently. It was not "fruzzley" silk, if you know
what that means; it did not make you feel as if
your nails wanted cutting, or as if all the rough
places on your skin were being rubbed up the
wrong way; its softness was like that of a rose or
What nice silk!" said Griselda. "I'd like a
dress of it. I never noticed that the palanquin
was lined so nicely," she continued, "for I suppose
it is the one from Lady Lavander's mantelpiece ?
There couldn't be two so exactly like each other."
The cuckoo gave a sort of whistle.
"What a goose you are, my dear!" he exclaimed.
"Excuse me," he continued, seeing that Griselda
looked rather offended; "I didn't mean to hurt
your feelings, but you won't let me say the other
thing, you know. The palanquin from Lady
Lavander's! I should think not. You might as
well mistake one of those horrible paper roses that
Iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 79
Dorcas sticks in her vases for one of your aunt's
Gloires de Dijon! The palanquin from Lady
Lavander's-a clumsy human imitation not worth
looking at! "
"I didn't know," said Griselda humbly. "Do
they make such beautiful things in Mandarin
Of course," said the cuckoo.
Griselda sat silent for a minute or two, but
very soon she recovered her spirits.
"Will you please tell me where we are going ?"
she asked again.
"You'll see directly," said the cuckoo; "not
that I mind telling you. There's to be a grand
reception at one of the palaces to-night. I thought
you'd like to assist at it. It'll give you some
idea of what a palace is like. By-the-by, can you
"A little," replied Griselda.
"AAh, well, I dare say you will manage. I've
80 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
ordered a court dress for you. It will be all ready
when we get there."
Thank you," said Griselda.
In a minute or two the palanquin stopped. The
cuckoo got out, and Griselda followed him.
She found that they were at the entrance to a
very much grander palace than the one in her
aunt's saloon. The steps leading up to the door
were very wide and shallow, and covered with a
gold embroidered carpet, which looked as if it
would be prickly to her bare feet, but which, on
the contrary, when she trod upon it, felt softer
than the softest moss. She could see very little
besides the carpet, for at each side of the steps
stood rows and rows of mandarins, all something
like, but a great deal grander than, the pair outside
ner aunt's cabinet; and as the cuckoo hopped and
Griselda walked up the staircase, they all, in turn,
row by row, began solemnly to nod. It gave them
the look of a field of very high grass, through
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 81
which, any one passing, leaves for the moment a
trail, till all the heads bob up again into their places.
What do they mean ? whispered Griselda.
It's a royal salute," said the cuckoo.
"A salute!" said Griselda. "I thought that
meant kissing or guns."
"Hush!" said the cuckoo, for by this time
they had arrived at the top of the staircase; you
must be dressed now."
Two mandariny-looking young ladies, with por-
celain faces and three-cornered head-dresses,
stepped forward and led Griselda into a small
ante-room, where lay waiting for her the most
magnificent dress you ever saw. But how do you
think they dressed her ? It was all by nodding.
They nodded to the blue and silver embroidered
jacket, and in a moment it had fitted itself on to
her. They nodded to the splendid scarlet satin
skirt, made very short in front and very long
behind, and before Griselda knew where she was,
8T TIE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
it was adjusted quite correctly. They nodded to
the head-dress, and the sashes, and the necklaces
and bracelets, and forthwith they all arranged
themselves. Last of all, they nodded to the
ldear.et, sweetest little pair of high-heeled shoes
iItiaginable-all silver, and blue, and gold, and
Hcarlet, and everything mixed up together, only
they were rather a stumpy shape about the toes;
and Griselda's bare feet were encased in them, and,
to her surprise, quite comfortably so.
They don't hurt me a bit," she said aloud;
"yet they didn't look the least the shape of my
But her attendants only nodded; and turning
round, soe saw the cuckoo waiting for her. He
(lid not speak either, rather to her annoyance, but
gravely led the way through one grand room after
another to the grandest of all, where the entertain-
ment was evidently just about to begin. And
everywhere there were mandarins, rows and rows,
Iv.] OOUNT Y OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 83
who all set to work nodding as fast as Griselda
appeared. She began to be rather tired of royal
salutes, and was glad when, at last, in profound
silence, the procession, consisting of the cuckoo
and herself, and about half a dozen "mandarins,"
came to a halt before a kind of dais, or raised seat,
at the end of the hall.
Upon this dais stood a chair-a throne of some
kind, Griselda supposed it to be-and upon this
was seated the grandest and gravest personage she
had yet seen.
Is he the king of the mandarins ?" she
whispered. But the cuckoo did not reply; and
before she had time to repeat the question, the
very grand and grave person got down from his
seat, and coming towards her, offered her his hand,
at the same time nodding-first once, then two or
three times together, then once again. Griselda
seemed to know what he meant. He was asking
her to dance.
84 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
"Thank you," she said. "I can't dance very
well, but perhaps you won't mind."
The king, if that was his title, took not the
slightest notice of her reply, but nodded again-
once, then two or three times together, then once
alone, just as before. Griselda did not know what
to do, when suddenly she felt something poking
her head. It was the cuckoo-he had lifted his
claw, and was tapping her head to make her nod.
So she nodded-once, twice together, then once-
that appeared to be enough. The king nodded once
again; an invisible band suddenly struck up the
loveliest music, and off they set to the places of
honour reserved for them in the centre of the
room, where all the mandarins were assembling.
What a dance that was! It began like a minuet
and ended something like the hay-makers.
Griselda had not the least idea what the figures or
steps were, but it did not matter. If she did not
know, her shoes or something about her did; for
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 85
she got on famously. The music was lovely--" so
the mandarins can't be deaf, though they are
dumb," thought Griselda, "which is one good
thing about them." The king seemed to enjoy it
as much as she did, though he never smiled or
laughed; any one could have seen he liked it by
the way he whirled and twirled himself about.
And between the figures, when they stopped to rest
for a little, Griselda got on very well too. There
was no conversation, or rather, if there was, it was
So Griselda nodded too, and though she did not
know what her nods meant, the king seemed to
understand and be quite pleased; and when they
had nodded enough, the music struck up again, and
off they set, harder than before.
And every now and then tiny little mandariny
boys appeared with trays filled with the most
delicious fruits and sweetmeats. Griselda was not
a greedy child, but for once in her life she really
86 THE CUCKOO CLOCK. [CHAP.
did feel rather so. I cannot possibly describe these
delicious things; just think of whatever in all your
life was the most "lovely" thing you ever eat, and
you may be sure they tasted like that. Only the
cuckoo would not eat any, which rather distressed
Griselda. He walked about among the dancers,
apparently quite at home; and the mandarins did
not seem at all surprised to see him, though he did
look rather odd, being nearly, if not quite, as big
as any of them. Griselda hoped he was enjoying
himself, considering that'she had to thank him for
all the fun she was having, but she felt a little
conscience-stricken when she saw that he wouldn't
"Cuckoo," she whispered; she dared not talk
out loud-it would have seemed so remarkable, you
see. "Cuckoo," she said, very, very softly, "I wish
you would eat something. You'll be so tired and
"No, thank you," said the cuckoo; and you
iv.] COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 87
can't think how pleased Griselda was at having
succeeded in making him speak. "It isn't my
way. I hope you are enjoying yourself ?"
Oh, very much," said Griselda. "I-- "
"Hush! said the cuckoo; and looking up,
Griselda saw a number of mandarins, in a sort of
procession, coming their way.
When they got up to the cuckoo they set to work
nodding, two or three at a time, more energetically
than usual. When they stopped, the cuckoo
nodded in return, and then hopped off towards the
middle of the room.
They're very fond of good music, you see," he
whispered as he passed Griselda; and they don't
often get it."
88 THE CUCKO 0 CLOCK. [CHAP.
And she is always beautiful,
And always is eighteen!"
WHEN he got to the middle of the room the cuckoo
cleared his throat, flapped his wings, and began to
sing. Griselda was quite astonished. She had
had no idea that her friend was so accomplished.
It wasn't "cuckooing" at all; it was real singing,
like that of the nightingale or the thrush, or like
something prettier than either. It made Griselda
think of woods in summer, and of tinkling brooks
flowing through them, with the pretty brown
pebbles sparkling up through the water; and then it
made her think of something sad-she didn't know
v.] PICTURES. 89
what; perhaps it was of the babes in the wood and
the robins covering them up with leaves-and then
again, in a moment, it sounded as if all the merry
elves and sprites that ever were heard of had
escaped from fairyland, and were rolling over and
over with peals of rollicking laughter. And at
last, all of a sudden, the song came to an end.
"Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!" rang out three
times, clear and shrill. The cuckoo flapped his
wings, made a bow to the mandarins, and retired
to his old corner.
There was no buzz of talk, as is usual after a
performance has come to a close, but there was
a great buzz of nodding, and Griselda, wishing
to give the cuckoo as much praise as she could,
nodded as hard as any of them. The cuckoo
really looked quite shy at receiving so much
applause. But in a minute or two the music
struck up and the dancing began again-one, two,
three: it seemed a sort of mazurka this time,