The BaIdAm Lnbr r,
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THE CUCKOO CLOCK
AUTHOR OF "CARROTS"
NFW YORK: 46 EAST' FOUrTEENTH STRFRT
THOMAS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY
BOSTON : 100 PURCHASE STREET
BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY.
TYPO(;RAPHY BY C. J. PETERS & SON,
AND TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF HER BROTHER,
BOTH FRIENDLY LITTLE CRITICS OF MY
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.
I. THE OLD HOUSE . . I
II. IMPATIENT GRISELDA . .. .19
III. OBEYING ORDERS . . .. 36
IV. THE COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS 57
V. PICTURES . . . 81
VI. RUBBED THE WRONG WAY . .. .105
VII. BUTTERFLY-LAND . . 124
VIII. MASTER PHIL. ... .. ... 146
IX. UP AND DOWN THE CHIMNEY . .. 166
X. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON ... .190
XI. "CUCKOO, CUCKOO, GOOD-BY!". 208
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, how-
ever 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 old trees growing so thick and close to-
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
gether 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 behind.
There was a colony of rooks in this old gar-
den. 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 ap-
pearance the rooks were always the same-
ever and always the same.
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
But one day at last there did come a change.
Late in the dusk of an autumn afternoon a car-
riage drove up to the door of the old house,
came rattling over the stones with a sudden
THE OLD HOUSE.
noisy clatter that sounded quite impertinent,
startling the rooks just as they were composing
themselves to rest, and setting them all won-
dering what could be the matter.
A little girl was the matter! A little girl
in a gray merino frock and gray beaver bonnet,
gray tippet and gray gloves all gray together,
even to her eyes, all except her round rosy face
and bright brown hair. Her name even was
rather gray, 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 to the old house. Shall
we go inside to see more ?
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 gleam-
ing brass handles one would not have known
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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."
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
The old servant smiled.
It will all seem strange to you, no doubt,"
she said; "but you'll get to like it, missie.
i ittle Griseldn, so tired wind slooepy.''
THE OLD HOUSE.
'Tis a good old house, and those that know
best love it well."
'* 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 from ?"
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.
" 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 some-
thing 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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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
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 after she had tucked herself up
in bed she was quite sound asleep, and did
not wake for several hours.
I wonder what it will all look like in the
morning," was her last waking thought. If
it was summer now, or spring, I shouldn't mind
-there would always be something nice to do
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 subject.
THE OLD HOUSE.
"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 say-
ing it is bit and when he woke up again
finished the sentence as if nothing had hap-
pened terly cold." If only it was spring,"
Just as she had got so far in her thoughts,
she gave a great start. What was it she heard ?
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
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,
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
cuckoo, cuckoo!" three, four, five times, then
perfect silence as before.
"What a funny 'cuckoo !" said Griselda to
herself. "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--per-
haps they have a tame cuckoo. I'll ask them
in the morning. It's very nice to hear, what-
ever it is."
And, with a pleasant feeling of companion-
ship, 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 dwelling.
She dressed herself carefully, for she had
been warned that her aunts loved neatness and
THE OLD HOUSE.
precision ; she fastened each button of her gray
frock, and tied down her hair as smooth as such
a brown tangle could be tied down; and, ab-
sorbed 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 remembered it, or rather was reminded of
it, by some little remark that was made about
the friendly robins on the terrace walk out-
"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
about ? "
"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 CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 dear, though it isn't
in 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 gray 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
THE OLD HOUSE.
dear, and then, if you like, you shall come
with me and see the cuckoo for yourself."
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 feelings.
After breakfast, Aunt Grizzel was as good
as her word. She took Griselda through sev-
cral of the rooms in the house, pointing out
all the curiosities, and telling all the histories
of the rooms and their contents; and Griselda
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 for-
gotten 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 even-
ing before; almost more so, indeed, for the
view from the windows added to the sweet,
odd old-fashionedness of everything.
We have beautiful roses in summer," ob-
served Miss Grizzel, catching sight of the direc-
tion 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
in the rooms even now, Aunt Grizzel, though
it is winter, or nearly winter."
THE OLD HOUSE.
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,
furnished with gold and white chairs, that must
once have been brilliant, and faded yellow dam-
ask 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 Gri-
selda was not sure which. Any way, it was
very delicious and wonderful. At the door
stood, one on each side, two solemn manda-
rins; or, to speak more correctly, perhaps I
should say a madarin and his wife, for the
right-hand figure was evidently intended to
be a lady.
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
Miss Grizzel gently touched their heads.
Forthwith, 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 and make them nod. They
wouldn't like it," replied Miss Grizzel mysteri-
ously. "Respect to your elders, my dear,
always remember that. The mandarins are
many years older than you- older than I my-
self, 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 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
whenever I like, Aunt Grizzel ? "
THE OLD HOUSE.
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 oppo-
site to that by which they had entered. She
opened it and passed through, Griselda follow-
ing, into a small anteroom.
"It is on the stroke of ten," said Miss
Grizzel, consulting her watch ; "now, my
dear, you shall make acquaintance with our
The cuckoo "that lived in a clock!" Gri-
selda gazed round her eagerly. Where was the
clock ? She could see nothing in the least like
one, only 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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
distance were hardly to be distinguished from
Miss Grizzel stood perfectly still, looking up
at the clock ; Griselda beside her, in breathless
expectation. 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 are no such
clocks made nowadays, I can assure you, my
But is it a clock? Isn't he alive?" ex-
claimed Griselda. He looked at me and nod-
ded his head, before he flapped his wings and
went into his house again he did indeed,
aunt," she said earnestly; "just like saying,
'How do you do ?' to me."
THE OLD HOUSE.
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 shordd 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
"What, Aunt Grizzel ?" inquired Griselda,
Punctuality, for one thing, and faithful dis-
charge of duty," replied Miss Grizzel.
May I come to see the cuckoo to watch
for him coming out, sometimes ? asked Gri-
selda, who felt as if she could spend all day
looking up at the clock, watching for her little
You will see him several times a day," said
her aunt; "for it is in this little room I intend
you to prepare your tasks. It is nice and quiet,
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
and nothing to disturb you, and close to the
room where your Aunt Tabitha and I usually
So saying, Miss Grizzel opened a second
door in the little anteroom; 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 break-
"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 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 aunt encouragingly.
She is very kind," thought Griselda; "but
I wish she wouldn't call my lessons tasks. It
makes them sound so dreadfully hard. But,
anyway, I'm glad I'm to do them in the room
where that dear cuckoo lives."
"... fairies but seldom appear;
If we do wrong we must expect
That it will cost us dearI"
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 "dull."
It was not quite such smooth sailing when
lessons began. She did not dislike lessons;
in 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 he addressed her. He screwed Gri-
selda 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 had 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 remem-
ber the little old gentleman's name; suppose
we call him Mr. Kneebreeches Mr. Knee-
breeches, when he found this out, conscien-
tiously put her back to the very beginning.
It was dreadful, really. He came twice a
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.
Kneebreeches' addition sums "rows," they
were far too fat and wide across to be so
spoken of !--whole slatefuls of these terrible
" Mr. Kneebreclics."
mountains of figures to climb wearily to the top
of. And not to climb once up merely. The
terrible thing was Mr. Kneebreeches' favorite
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 cut-
ting off the top line and adding the long rows
up again without it, and then joining it on
again somewhere else.
"I wouldn't mind so much," said poor Gri-
selda 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 it-
self -more likely, for 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 cross."
"Hush! said her aunt gravely. That
is not the way for a little girl to speak. Im-
prove these golden hours of youth, Griselda;
they will never return."
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
I hope not," muttered Griselda, "if it
means doing sums."
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 room.
The cuckoo was still telling the hour -
eleven took a good while. It seemed to Gri-
selda that the bird repeated her aunt's last
words. Faith- ful, dis- charge of -your
du-ty," he said, "faith-ful."
You horrid little creature !" exclaimed
Griselda in a passion; "what business have
you to mock me ?"
She seized a book, the first that came to
hand, and flung it at the bird who was just
beginning his eleventh cuckoo. He disap-
peared with a snap, disappeared without flap-
ing 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 throwing 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 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 expecting 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 herself anxiously more than once.
If only the clock had not been so very high
up on the wall, she would have been tempted
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 furni-
ture 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; for just about half-past eleven, Miss
Grizzel'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
"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 god-
mother, 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 when she had no air,
and had to sit still for so long.
Merrybrow Hall was a large house, quite as
old and much grander, but not nearly so won-
derful 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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
been invited to be Griselda's godmother; but
as she had never shown her any proof of affec-
tion beyond giving her a prayer-book, and hop-
ing, whenever she saw her, that she was "a
good little miss," Griselda did not feel any
particular cause for gratitude to her.
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 be-
lieve 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 Lav-
ander 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
All the way home Griselda felt in a fever of
impatience to rush up to the anteroom 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. Griselda was obliged to restrain
herself and move demurely.
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 up-stairs. 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-
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
room door. It was open, and now, 'knowing
her way better, she hurried in. But what was
the 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
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 hearing Miss Grizzel's voice in the dis-
tance, 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 her.
Startled, but not frightened, Griselda stood
Cuckoo," she said softly. But there was
Again the tones of Miss Grizzel's voice com-
ing up-stairs reached her ear.
I must go," said Griselda; and finding her
way across the saloon without, by great good
luck, tumbling against any of the many break-
able treasures with which it was filled, she flew
down the long passage again, reaching her own
room just before Dorcas appeared with her
Griselda 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
never heard; for at this moment Miss Grizzel
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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
"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; "im-
"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 watchmaker?"
Miss Grizzel shook her head.
"'Twould be worse than useless. Were we
to 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
Miss Tabitha did not reply. She was weep-
ing silently. The old ladies seemed to have
forgotten the presence of their niece, but Gri-
selda could not bear to see their distress. She
finished her breakfast as quickly as she could,
and left the room.
On her way up-stairs she met Dorcas.
Have 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.
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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 family 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 wrangling and jangling, and sharp
words. The 'good people' can't stand that.
Nothing drives them away like ill-temper or
Griselda's conscience gave her a sharp prick.
Could it be her doing that trouble was coming
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 down-
stairs. "It's true she is very like Miss
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
Her aunts made no allusion to the subject in
her presence, and almost seemed to have for-
gotten 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 anteroom, but was thankful to
get away from the tick-tick of the clock in the
corner, and out into the garden.
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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 bedtime came. It was a
sort of reproach to her to see her aunts so pale
and troubled; and though she tried to per-
suade herself that she thought them very
silly, she could not throw off the uncomfort-
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, 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.
IMPATIENT GRISELDA. 35
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 pattering 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 ?
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 anteroom too ; for
though the windows, like those in Griselda's
bedroom, 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
Griselda, eager though she was, could not help
standing still a moment to admire the effect.
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, the 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 police-
men 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 mid-
night expedition of hers. She hurried into the
It looked darker than the great saloon, for
it had but one window. But through the un-
covered space at the top of this window, there
penetrated some brilliant moonbeams, one of
which lighted up brightly the face of the clock
with its queer overhanging eaves.
Griselda approached it and stood below,
Cuckoo," she said softly--very softly.
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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, cuckoo ?"
"Tick-tick," said the clock; but there was
no other reply.
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 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, and then gently flapped his wings,
and uttered Cuckoo."
Griselda stood in breathless expectation, but
in her delight she could not help very softly
clapping her hands.
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 spoke.
"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. 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;
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
"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
present," said the cuckoo. You can under-
stand about obeying your orders; and you see,
when you don't, things go wrong."
Yes," said Griselda humbly, they cer-
tainly do. But, cuckoo," she continued, "I
never used 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
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 last.
"Thank you," said Griselda, not exactly
knowing what else to say.
"And in the meantime," continued the
cuckoo, "you'd better obey present orders
and go back to bed."
"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 like."
"Who said I was a fairy?" inquired the
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
Dorcas did; and, of course, my own com-
mon-sense did too," replied Griselda. "You
must be a fairy you couldn't be anything
"I might be a fairyfied cuckoo," suggested
Griselda looked puzzled.
"I don't understand," she said; "and I
don't think it could make much difference.
But whatever 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 considered."
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.
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
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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
"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 beautifully unsleepy now. I must dress
quickly- how nice it will be to see my aunts
look happy again! I don't even care if they
scold me for being late."
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 herself very quickly, however. As she
went down-stairs 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 anteroom 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 eager-
ness to know if her aunts were aware of the
cuckoo's return, could restrain herself no
"Aunt Grizzel," she said, "isn't the cuckoo
all right again ?"
"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 ques-
tions," 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 badly."
"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, Gri-
silda could see that, at the bottom of their
hearts, they were both so happy that, even
if she had been very naughty indeed, they
THE CUCKOO CLOCk.
could hardly have made up their minds to scold
She was not at all inclined to be naughty this
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 con-
sidered 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
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 liked in a minute. I'd
go to China to see if all the people there looked
like Aunt Grizzel's mandarins; and I'd first of
all, of course, go to fairy-land."
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
anteroom 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
"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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
was 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 specta-
cles 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
Was she ?" exclaimed Griselda, stopping
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 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 grand-
father lived, that the cuckoo clock was made.
They make wonderful clocks there, I've been
told, but none more wonderful than our cuckoo,
"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, missie, 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 any-
thing was wrong with her, and folks said some-
thing had caught some of the springs of the
50 THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
works; but I didn't think so, and never shall.
But here Dorcas's reminiscences were ab-
ruptly 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 anteroom, with the tick-tick of
the clock in her ears, and the feeling that per-
haps the cuckoo was watching her through
some invisible peep-hole in his closed doors.
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
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
For fairies, you know, children, however
charming, 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, 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-
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
night, and to ask Dorcas to give her a wine-
glassful of elder-berry wine, nice and hot, after
she was in bed.
Griselda had no objection to the elder-berry
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 awakened suddenly-just as she had done
the night before, and again with the feeling
that something had awakened 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 peered out
into the darkness, feeling quite ready for an
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,
It went on and on, down the passage, Gri-
selda 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 without any difficulty,
down the passage, across the great saloon, in
through the anteroom door, guided only by
the little voice now and then to be heard in
front of her. She came to a standstill 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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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,
Good-evening, cuckoo," said Griselda, when
he had finished.
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, Gri-
selda ?" he inquired.
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
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, cuckoo"--
"Yesterday," corrected the cuckoo. "Al-
ways be 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 particular. Well, as I was saying, I tried
and tried, but still they were fearful. They
You've a great deal to learn, Griselda,"
repeated the cuckoo.
"I wish you wouldn't say that so often,"
said Griselda. "I thought you were going
to play with me."
"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 his mind.
Sit beside you up there!" she exclaimed.
"Cuckoo, how could I ? I'm far, far too big."
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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, were all made little enough to go into
a walnut, you'd never find out the difference ?"
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, 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 the chains."
Stuff," said the cuckoo; "it won't stop
the clock. Catch hold of the chains and
swing yourself up. There now I told you
you could manage it."
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 57
THE COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS.
We're all nodding, nid-nid-nodding."
How she managed it she never knew; but,
somehow 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 antici-
pation of a bump at the end of the journey.
And when she got to the top how wonder-
fully 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 decided not to trouble to inquire
-to pass through quite comfortably.
And inside there was the most charming
little snuggery imaginable. It was something
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 Griselda by a
little nod, was evidently intended for her.
"Thank you," said she, sitting down on the
chair as she spoke.
"Are you comfortable ? asked 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
wall. Is it a hole cut out of the wall on pur-
pose, 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
perhaps I might."
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 59
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 hang-
ing, 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 she had not noticed it.
Had it been hanging the rzigrht side out she
must have done so; this side was so very won-
It was all feathers feathers of every shade
and color, but beautifully worked in, somehow,
so as to lie quite smoothly and evenly, one
color melting away into another like those in
a prism, so that you could hardly tell where
one began and another ended.
What a lovely cloak! said Griselda, wrap-
ping it round her, and feeling even more com-
fortable than before, as she watched the rays of
the little lamp in the roof- I think I was for-
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
getting 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 colors of the feather
It's better than lovely," said the cuckoo,
" as you shall see. Now, Griselda," he con-
tinued, 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 wanted to say. Just let me sit still and
say whatever 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
anteroom table. I want to play."
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 61
Just so," said the cuckoo; "that's what I
want to talk about. What do you call 'play'
- blind-man'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 blind-man's-buff; there'd be only
me to catch you, or you to catch me."
"Oh, we could easily get more," said the
cuckoo. "The mandarins would be pleased to
"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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
,"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
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-land."
Again the cuckoo shook his head.
"That," said he, "I cannot do."
"Why not?" said Griselda. Lots of chil-
dren 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 fairy-land to the
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 63
real fairy-land. They may have been taken to
the neighboring countries, but not to fairy-land
And how is one ever to find one's own way
there ?" asked Griselda.
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 farther
after a while. Ah, yes, there are many roads
and many doors into fairy-land !"
Doors! cried Griselda. Are there any
doors into fairy-land 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 -
64 THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
it would be just like lessons to go to India and
Africa and all those places but queer places,
like the mines where the goblins make dia-
monds 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 saloon."
"That can be easily managed," said the
cuckoo; but excuse me for an instant," he
exclaimed suddenly. He gave a spring forward
and disappeared. Then Griselda heard his
voice outside the doors, Cuckoo, cuckoo,
cuckoo." It was three o'clock.
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
"Another door, do you mean?" said Gri-
selda. How funny! Does it go through the
wall? And where does it lead to ?"
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 65
"It leads," replied the cuckoo, "it leads to
the country of the Nodding Mandarins."
"I 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
"Yes ; but am I to wish first to be in the
palace in the great saloon?"
"Certainly," replied the cuckoo. That is
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
the entrance to Mandarin Land, and you said
you would like to see through it. So you'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
everything that's been done since the world
was made till now, was done over again
in five minutes, you'd never know the differ-
Oh, cuckoo, I wish you wouldn't!" cried
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 67
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
"It was your own fault. You wouldn't get
ready," said the cuckoo. Now, here goes!
Flap and wish."
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, nod-
ding politely, seemed to invite them to enter.
Go on," said the cuckoo patronizingly;
Griselda went on. To her surprise, inside
the cabinet it was quite light, though where
the light came from that illuminated all the
queer corners and recesses and streamed out
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 command-
ing, no doubt, a splendid view of the great
saloon ; there were ever so many little stair-
cases leading to more little rooms and bal-
conies, but it all seemed empty and deserted.
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
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
He hopped down a sort of little staircase
near which they were standing, and Griselda
followed him willingly enough. At the foot
they found themselves in a vestibule, much
handsomer than the entrance at the other side;
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 69
and the cuckoo, crossing it, lifted one of his
claws, and touched a spring in the wall. In-
stantly a pair of large doors flew open in the
middle, revealing to Griselda the prettiest and
most curious sight she had ever seen.
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 color, making a perfect network of
brilliance as far as the eye could reach.
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. Palan-
He flapped his wings, and instantly a palan-
quin appeared at the foot of the steps. It
was made of carved ivory, and borne by four
Chinese-looking figures with pigtails and bright-
colored jackets. A feeling came over Gri-
selda that she was dreaming, or else that she
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
had seen this palanquin before. She hesitated.
Suddenly she gave a little jump of satisfaction.
I know!" she exclaimed. "It's exactly
like the one that stands under a glass shade
on Lady Lavander's drawing-room mantel-piece.
I wonder if it is the very one? Fancy me
being able to get into it! "
She looked at the four bearers. Instantly
they all nodded.
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 that?"
"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
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 71
away home to bed. Of course I've a great
deal to learn that's why 1 like to ask ques-
tions about everything 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 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 a pansy
"What nice silk!" said Griselda. I'd like
a dress of it. I never noticed that the palan-
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
quin was lined so nicely," she continued, "for
I suppose it is the one from Lady Lavander's
mantel-piece? There couldn't be two so ex-
actly like each other."
The cuckoo gave a sort of whistle.
What a goose you are, my dear!" he ex-
claimed. 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 palan-
quin from Lady Lavander's! I should think
not. You might as well mistake one of those
horrible paper roses that 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 look-
ing at! "
I didn't know," said Griselda humbly. Do
they make such beautiful things in Mandarin
Land ? "
Of course," said the cuckoo.
Griselda sat silent for a minute or two, but
very soon she recovered her spirits.
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 73
"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 dance?"
"A little," replied Griselda.
Ah, well, I dare say you will manage. I've
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
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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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 man-
darins, all something like, but a great deal
grander than, the pair outside her aunt's
cabinet; and as the cuckoo hopped and Gri-
selda 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 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 Gri-
"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
porcelain faces and three-cornered head-dresses,
stepped forward and led Griselda into a small
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 75
anteroom, 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 Gri-
selda knew where she was, 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 dearest, sweetest
little pair of high-heeled shoes imaginable -
all silver, and blue, and gold, and scarlet, and
everything mixed up together, only they were
rather a stumpy shape about the toes, and Gri-
selda'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
But her attendants only nodded; and turning
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
round, she saw the cuckoo waiting for her.
He did not speak either, rather to her annoy-
ance, but gravely led the way through one
grand room after another to the grandest of
all, where the entertainment was evidently just
about to begin. And everywhere there were
mandarins, rows and rows, 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 her-
self, 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
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 77
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.
"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 some-
thing 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 honor
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
78 THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
the figures or steps were, but it did not matter.
If she did not know, her shoes or something
about her did ; for 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 be-
tween 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 all nodding.
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
And every now and then tiny little man-
dariny boys appeared with trays filled with the
most delicious fruits and sweetmeats. Griselda
COUNTRY OF THE NODDING MANDARINS. 79
was not a greedy child, but for once in her life
she really 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 ate, 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 eat anything.
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 hungry."
No, thank you," said the cuckoo; and you
can't think how pleased Griselda was at having
80 THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
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."
And she is always beautiful,
And always is eighteen I"
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
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
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
all the merry elves and sprites that ever were
heard of had escaped from fairy-land, 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 re-
tired 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 dancing began again-one, two,
three, it seemed a sort of mazurka this time,
which suited the mandarins very well, as it
gave them a chance of nodding to mark the
Griselda had once learnt the mazurka; so she
got on even better than before -only she
would have liked it more if her shoes had had
sharper toes; they looked so stumpy when she
tried to point them. All the same, it was very
good fun; and she was not too well pleased
when she suddenly felt the little sharp tap of
the cuckoo on her head, and heard him whis-
Griselda, it's time to go."
Oh dear, why ? she asked. I'm not a bit
tired. Why need we go yet ?"
Obeying orders," said the cuckoo; and
after that, Griselda dared not say another word.
It was very nearly as bad as being told she had
a great deal to learn.
Must I say good-by to the king and all the
people ?" she inquired'; but before the cuckoo
had time to answer, she gave a little squeal.
" Oh, cuckoo," she cried, "you've trod on my
"I beg your pardon," said the cuckoo.
I must take off my shoe; it does so hurt,"
she went on.
Take it off, then," said the cuckoo.
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
Griselda stooped to take off her shoe. "Are
we going home in the pal--? she began to
say; but she never finished the sentence, for
just as she had got her shoe off she felt the
cuckoo throw something round her. It was the
And Griselda knew nothing more till she
opened her eyes the next morning, and saw the
first early rays of sunshine peeping in through
the chinks of the closed shutters of her little
She rubbed her eyes, and sat up in bed.
Could it have been a dream?
What could have made me fall asleep so all
of a sudden?" she thought. "I wasn't the
least sleepy at the mandarins' ball. What fun
it was I believe that cuckoo made me fall
asleep on purpose to make me fancy it was a
dream. Was it a dream ? "
She began to feel confused and doubtful,
when suddenly she felt something hurting her
arm, like a little lump in the bed. She felt
with her hand to see if she could smooth it
away, and drew out one of the shoes belong-
ing to her court dress! The very one she had
held in her hand at the moment the cuckoo
spirited her home again to bed.
"Ah, Mr. Cuckoo!" she exclaimed, "you
meant to play me a trick, but you haven't suc-
ceeded, you see."
She jumped out of bed, and unfastened one
of the window-shutters, then jumped in again
to admire the little shoe in comfort. It was
even prettier than she had thought it at the
ball. She held it up and looked at it. It was
about the size of the first joint of her little
finger. "To think that I should have been
dancing with you on last night she said to
the shoe. "And yet the cuckoo says being
big or little is all a matter of fancy. I wonder
what he'll think of to amuse me next ? "
She was still holding up the shoe and admir-
ing it, when Dorcas came with the hot water.
"Look, Dorcas," she said.
Bless me, it's one of the shoes off the
Chinese dolls in the saloon," exclaimed the old
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
servant. "How ever did you get that, missie ?
Your aunts wouldn't be pleased."
It just isn't one of the Chinese dolls' shoes;
and if you don't believe me, you can go and
look for yourself," said Griselda. It's my very
own shoe, and it was given me to my own self."
Dorcas looked at her curiously, but said no
more, only as she was going out of the room
Griselda heard her saying something about so
very like Miss Sybilla."
I wonder what 'Miss Sybilla was like ?"
thought Griselda. I have a good mind to ask
the cuckoo. He seems to have known her very
It was not for some days that Griselda had a
chance of asking the cuckoo anything. She
saw and heard nothing of him nothing, that
is to say, but his regular appearance to tell the
hours as usual.
"I suppose," thought Griselda, "he thinks
the mandarins' ball was fun enough to last me
a good while. It really was very good-natured
of him to take me to it, so I mustn't grumble."
A few days after this poor Griselda caught
cold. It was not a very bad cold, I must con-
fess, but her aunts made rather a fuss about it.
They wanted her to stay in bed, but to this
Griselda so much objected that they did not
insist upon it.
"It would be so dull," she said piteously.
" Please let me stay in the anteroom, for all
my things are there; and, then, there's the
Aunt Grizzel smiled at this, and Griselda got
her way. But even in the anteroom it was
rather dull. Miss Grizzel and Miss Tabitha
were obliged to go out, to drive all the way to
Merrybrow Hall, as Lady Lavander sent a mes-
senger to say that she had an attack of in-
fluenza, and wished to see her friends at
Miss Tabitha began to cry--she was so
"Troubles never come singly," said Miss
Grizzel, by way of consolation.
"No, indeed, they never come singly," said
THE CUCKOO CLOCK.
Miss Tabitha, shaking her head and wiping
So off they set; and Griselda, in her arm-
chair by the anteroom fire, with some queer
little old-fashioned books of her aunts', which
she had already read more than a dozen times,
beside her by way of amusement, felt that there
was one comfort in her troubles she had es-
caped the long, weary drive to her godmother's.
But it was very dull. It got duller and
duller. Griselda curled herself up in her chair,
and wished she could go to sleep, though feel-
ing quite sure she couldn't, for she had stayed
in bed much later than usual this morning,
and had been obliged to spend the time in
sleeping, for want of anything better to do.
She looked up at the clock.
I don't know even what to wish for," she
said to herself. "I don't feel the least in-
clined to play at anything, and I shouldn't
care to go to the mandarins again. Oh,
cuckoo, cuckoo, I am so dull! couldn't you
think of anything to amuse me?"
" Griselda in her ariii-cha:ir by the ante-room tire."