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And I was thinking it would be less trouble for you if we were to go out into the woods all day to-morrow and take our dinner with us—something cold, you know—so as not to be a trouble to the cook. Then Gerald's eyes smiled; they had a trick of doing this when his lips were quite serious. Mademoiselle caught the twinkle, and she laughed and Gerald laughed too.

We don't want to trouble you—and we don't want you to——" [18]. I will forewarn the cook. Are you content? And you shan't repent it. Is there anything we can do for you—wind your wool, or find your spectacles, or——? The ingenuous youth won the regard of the foreign governess, who in her youth had been the beauty of her humble village.

She wasn't stern with me. Something like an ambassador. Dipsoplomatist—that's what I am. Anyhow, we've got our day, and [20] if we don't find a cave in it my name's not Jack Robinson. Mademoiselle, less stern than Kathleen had ever seen her, presided at supper, which was bread and treacle spread several hours before, and now harder and drier than any other food you can think of. Gerald was very polite in handing her butter and cheese, and pressing her to taste the bread and treacle. You'll see, I shall drive her with a rein of darning cotton after this.

Next morning Gerald got up early and gathered a little bunch of pink carnations from a plant which he found hidden among the marigolds. He tied it up with black cotton and laid it on Mademoiselle's plate.

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She smiled and looked quite handsome as she stuck the flowers in her belt. You see, if you want grown-ups to be nice to you the least you can do is to be nice to them and think of little things to please them.

I never think of any myself. Jerry does; that's why all the old ladies like him. It's not bribery. It's a sort of honesty—like paying for things. The wide High Street, even at the busy morning hour almost as quiet as a dream-street, lay bathed in sunshine; the leaves shone fresh from last night's rain, but the road was dry, and in the sunshine the very dust of it sparkled like diamonds.

The beautiful old houses, standing stout and strong, looked as though they were basking in the sunshine and enjoying it. One of the chaps told me his father said when he was a boy there used to be a little cave under the bank in a lane near the Salisbury Road; but he said there was an enchanted castle there too, so perhaps the cave isn't true either.

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And the horns were bought in a tiny shop with a bulging window full of a tangle of toys and sweets and cucumbers and sour apples. And the quiet square at the end of the town where the church is, and the houses of the most respectable people, echoed to the sound of horns blown long and loud. But none of the houses turned into enchanted castles. So they went along the Salisbury Road, which was very hot and dusty, so they agreed to drink one of the bottles of gingerbeer. And now trees arched overhead, and the banks of the road were high and bushy.

The adventurers had long since ceased to blow their [23] horns. It was too tiring to go on doing that, when there was no one to be annoyed by it. We might call it lunch, you know," he added persuasively. So they sat down in the hedge and ate the ripe red gooseberries that were to have been their dessert. And as they sat and rested and wished that their boots did not feel so full of feet, Gerald leaned back against the bushes, and the bushes gave way so that he almost fell over backward.

Something had yielded to the pressure of his back, and there was the sound of something heavy that fell. Gerald reached his hand through the bushes. There certainly was a hole in the bank. The feet waved wildly in the air. Put your feet down , girl, not up. It's no use trying to fly here—there's no room. He helped her by pulling her feet forcibly down and then lifting her under the arms. She felt rustling dry leaves under her boots, and stood ready to receive Jimmy, who came in head first, like one diving into an unknown sea. But their dauntless leader, whose eyes had grown used to the dark while the clumsy forms of the others were bunging up the entrance, had made a discovery.

They looked. And there was. A faint greyness on the brown walls of the cave, and a brighter greyness cut off sharply by a dark line, showed that round a turning or angle of the cave there was daylight. The others mechanically obeyed.

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But you're just like a girl. Their eyes had now begun to get accustomed to the darkness, and all could see that they were in a rough stone cave, that went straight on for about three or four yards and then turned sharply to the right.

He advanced carefully, picking his way among the loose earth and stones that were the floor of the cave. The narrow passage ended in a round arch all fringed with ferns and creepers. They passed through the arch into a deep, narrow gully whose banks were of stones, moss-covered; and in the crannies grew more ferns and long grasses. Trees growing on the top of the bank arched across, and the sunlight came through in changing patches of brightness, turning the gully to a roofed corridor of goldy-green. The path, which was of greeny-grey flagstones where heaps of leaves had drifted, sloped steeply down, and at the end of it was another round arch, quite dark inside, above which rose rocks and grass and bushes.

And they marched.

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Under the drifted damp leaves the path was firm and stony to their shuffling feet. At the dark arch they stopped. Very slowly and carefully they went down the steps. A vaulted stone arched over their heads. Gerald struck a match when the last step was found to have no edge, and to be, in fact, the beginning of a passage, turning to the left.

They went on, following their leader, who went very slowly for fear, as he explained, of steps. The passage was very dark. Then came a glimmer of daylight that grew and grew, and presently ended in another arch that looked out over a scene so like a picture out of a book about Italy that every one's breath was taken away, and they simply walked forward silent and staring. A short avenue of cypresses led, widening as it went, to a marble terrace that lay broad and white in the sunlight.

The children, blinking, leaned their arms on the broad, flat balustrade and gazed. Immediately below them was a lake—just like a lake in "The Beauties of Italy"—a lake with swans and an island and weeping willows; beyond it were green slopes dotted with groves of trees, and amid the trees gleamed the white limbs of statues. Against a little hill to the left was a round white building with pillars, and to the right a waterfall came [31] tumbling down among mossy stones to splash into the lake. Steps led from the terrace to the water, and other steps to the green lawns beside it. Away across the grassy slopes deer were feeding, and in the distance where the groves of trees thickened into what looked almost a forest were enormous shapes of grey stone, like nothing that the children had ever seen before.

I believe it is magic. Do you think there's nothing in the world but what you've seen? This is an enchanted garden, and that's an enchanted castle, and I'm jolly well going to explore. The dauntless knight then led the way, leaving his ignorant squires to follow or not, just as they jolly well chose. The others followed. There never was such a garden—out of a picture or a fairy tale. They passed quite close by the deer, who only raised their pretty heads to look, and did not seem startled at all. And after a long stretch of turf they passed under the heaped-up heavy masses of lime-trees and came into a rose-garden, bordered with thick, close-cut yew hedges, and lying red and pink and green and white in the sun, like a giant's many-coloured, highly-scented pocket-handkerchief.

And then what will you say? But they did not meet a gardener or anybody else, and the feeling of magic got thicker and thicker, till they were almost afraid of the sound of their feet in the great silent place.

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Beyond the rose garden was a yew hedge with an arch cut in it, and it was the beginning of a maze like the one in Hampton Court. In the middle of this maze we shall find the secret enchantment. Draw your swords, my merry men all, and hark forward tallyho in the utmost silence. It was very hot in the maze, between the close yew hedges, and the way to the maze's heart was hidden well. Again and again they found themselves at the black yew arch that opened on the rose garden, and they were all glad that they had brought large, clean pocket-handkerchiefs with them.

It was when they found themselves there for the fourth time that Jimmy suddenly cried, "Oh, I wish——" and then stopped short very suddenly. Their thoughts dwelt fondly on the slices of cold mutton, the six tomatoes, the bread and butter, the screwed-up paper of salt, the apple turnovers, and the [35] little thick glass that one drank the gingerbeer out of.

It was a thread of cotton. Gerald picked it up. One end of it was tied to a thimble with holes in it, and the other——. What price cold mutton now?