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Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories

Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories
Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories Alan Lee Available for the first time in one volume, this is the definitive collection of Tolkien’s five acclaimed modern classic ‘fairie’ tales in the vein of ‘The Hobbit’, fully corrected and reset for this edition.The five tales are written with the same skill, quality and charm that made The Hobbit a classic. Largely overlooked because of their short lengths, they are finally together in a volume which reaffirms Tolkien's place as a master storyteller for readers young and old.• Roverandom is a toy dog who, enchanted by a sand sorcerer, gets to explore the world and encounter strange and fabulous creatures.• Farmer Giles of Ham is fat and unheroic, but - having unwittingly managed to scare off a short-sighted giant - is called upon to do battle when a dragon comes to town;• The Adventures of Tom Bombadil tells in verse of Tom's many adventures with hobbits, princesses, dwarves and trolls;• Leaf by Niggle recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle who sets out to paint the perfect tree;• Smith of Wootton Major journeys to the Land of Faery thanks to the magical ingredients of the Great Cake of the Feast of Good Children.World-renowned Tolkien author and expert, Tom Shippey, takes the reader through the hidden links in the tales to Tolkien's Middle-earth in his Introduction, and recounts their history and themes.Lastly, included as an appendix is Tolkien's most famous essay, "On Fairy-stories", in which he brilliantly discusses fairy-stories and their relationship to fantasy.Taken together, this rich collection of new and unknown work from the author of The Children of Húrin will provide the reader with a fascinating journey into lands as wild and strange as Middle-earth. TALES FROM THE PERILOUS REALM BY J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright (#ulink_58f34fad-2732-5621-97a3-0a054ad141c8) HarperCollinsPublishers 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB Published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2008 This collection first published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 1997 Farmer Giles of Ham first published 1949 Copyright © The J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust 1949 The Adventures of Tom Bombadil first published 1961 Copyright © The J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust 1962 Leaf By Niggle first published in Tree and Leaf 1964 Copyright © The Tolkien Trust 1964 Smith of Wootton Major first published 1967 Copyright © The Tolkien Trust 1967 Roverandom first published 1998 Copyright © The Tolkien Trust 1998 Introduction © Tom Shippey 2008 ® and Tolkien® are registered trade marks of The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Limited All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. 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Source ISBN: 9780007280599 Ebook Edition © SEPTEMBER 2009:9780007348169 Version: 2014-12-08 Table of Contents Title Page (#u6cb9a682-c179-5bb7-a3f8-95affa862fe1) Copyright (#u8659dcf8-2b0b-5dd3-92e5-3f47254e5fce) INTRODUCTION (#u32ac69f5-2a0d-501a-8c39-2864d72ef6f2) ROVERANDOM (#ud3f68a1c-be7a-5182-8af5-a061bf71b6b0) 1 (#u58caa47e-b154-5131-811e-74ae988321d3) 2 (#u76d9134e-38af-5310-a80c-06cc070f3816) 3 (#ud333c972-94ae-5c98-b366-47be0eb512bf) 4 (#u46ccdf26-9092-5f98-be34-c3b6c8ce5de2) 5 (#litres_trial_promo) FARMER GILES OF HAM (#litres_trial_promo) FOREWORD (#litres_trial_promo) FARMER GILES OF HAM (#litres_trial_promo) THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL (#litres_trial_promo) PREFACE (#litres_trial_promo) 1 THE ADVENTURES OF TOM BOMBADIL (#litres_trial_promo) 2 BOMBADIL GOES BOATING (#litres_trial_promo) 3 ERRANTRY (#litres_trial_promo) 4 PRINCESS MEE (#litres_trial_promo) 5 THE MAN IN THE MOON STAYED UP TOO LATE (#litres_trial_promo) 6 THE MAN IN THE MOON CAME DOWN TOO SOON (#litres_trial_promo) 7 THE STONE TROLL (#litres_trial_promo) 8 PERRY-THE-WINKLE (#litres_trial_promo) 9 THE MEWLIPS (#litres_trial_promo) 10 OLIPHAUNT (#litres_trial_promo) 11 FASTITOCALON (#litres_trial_promo) 12 CAT (#litres_trial_promo) 13 SHADOW-BRIDE (#litres_trial_promo) 14 THE HOARD (#litres_trial_promo) 15 THE SEA-BELL (#litres_trial_promo) 16 THE LAST SHIP (#litres_trial_promo) SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR (#litres_trial_promo) SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR (#litres_trial_promo) LEAF BY NIGGLE (#litres_trial_promo) LEAF BY NIGGLE (#litres_trial_promo) APPENDIX (#litres_trial_promo) ON FAIRY-STORIES (#litres_trial_promo) FAIRY-STORY (#litres_trial_promo) ORIGINS (#litres_trial_promo) CHILDREN (#litres_trial_promo) FANTASY (#litres_trial_promo) RECOVERY, ESCAPE, CONSOLATION (#litres_trial_promo) EPILOGUE (#litres_trial_promo) NOTES (#litres_trial_promo) Keep Reading (#litres_trial_promo) About the Author (#litres_trial_promo) Works by J.R.R. Tolkien (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) INTRODUCTION (#ulink_d5a00e17-fdea-50e2-82ae-f5de03d39ebe) We do not know when Tolkien began to turn his thoughts to the Perilous Realm of Faërie. In his essay “On Fairystories”, to be found at the end of this book, he admits that he took no particular interest in tales of that kind as a child: they were just one of many interests. A “real taste” for them, he says, “was wakened by philology on the threshold of manhood, and quickened to full life by war”. This seems to be strictly accurate. The first of his works to take an interest in fairies, that we know of, is a poem called “Wood-sunshine”, written in 1910, when Tolkien was eighteen and still at King Edward’s School in Birmingham. By the end of 1915, the year in which he took his Oxford degree and immediately joined the army to fight in the Great War, he had written several more, some of them containing major elements of what would be his developed Faërie mythology. By the end of 1917, most of which he spent in military hospital or waiting to be passed fit for active service once more, he had written the first draft of tales which would sixty years later be published in The Silmarillion, and much of Middle-earth, as also of Elvenhome beyond it, had taken shape in his mind. What happened then is a long story, about which we now know a great deal more than we did, but once again it was summed up concisely and suggestively by Tolkien himself, in the story “Leaf by Niggle”. It is generally accepted that this has a strong element of self-portrait about it, with Tolkien the writer—a confirmed “niggler”, as he said himself—transposed as Niggle the painter. Niggle, the story tells us, was busy on all kinds of pictures, but one in particular started to grow on him. It began as just a single leaf, but then it became a tree, and the tree grew to be a Tree, and behind it a whole country started to open out, with “glimpses of a forest marching over the land, and of mountains tipped with snow”. Niggle, Tolkien wrote, “lost interest in his other pictures; or else he took them and tacked them on to the edges of his great picture”. Once again this is an accurate account of what Tolkien can be seen doing in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. During those thirty years he kept working at variants of “Silmarillion” stories, writing occasional poems, often anonymously, and making up other stories, not always written down and sometimes told initially only to his children. The Hobbit started life as one of these, set in Middleearth, but to begin with connected only tangentially with the Elvish history of the Silmarils: it was, to use the modern term, a spin-off. The Lord of the Rings was a further spin-off, this time from The Hobbit, and initially motivated by Tolkien’s publisher’s strong desire for a Hobbit-sequel. But what Tolkien started to do, just like Niggle, was to take things he had written before and start “tacking them on to the edges”. Tom Bombadil, who had begun as the name for a child’s toy, got into print in 1934 as the hero of a poem, and then became perhaps the most mysterious figure in the world of The Lord of the Rings. That work also drew in other poems, some of them comic, like Sam Gamgee’s “Oliphaunt” rhyme, first published in 1927, others grave and sad, like the version Strider gives on Weathertop of the tale of Beren and Lúthien, again going back to a poem published in 1925, and based on a story written even earlier. Quite what was the “leaf” of Tolkien’s original inspiration, and what he meant by “the Tree”, we cannot be sure, though the “forest marching over the land” does sound very like the Ents. But the little allegory makes one further point which corroborates what Tolkien said elsewhere, and that is that “fairy-stories”, whoever tells them, are not about fairies so much as about Faërie, the Perilous Realm itself. Tolkien indeed asserted there are not many stories actually about fairies, or even about elves, and most of them—he was too modest to add, unless they were written by Tolkien himself—were not very interesting. Most good fairy-stories are about “the aventures of men in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches”, a very exact description once again of Tolkien’s own tales of Beren on the marches or borders of Doriath, Túrin skirmishing around Nargothrond, or Tuor escaping from the Fall of Gondolin. Tolkien remained strongly ambivalent about the very notion of “fairy”. He disliked the word, as a borrowing from French—the English word is “elf”—and he also disliked the whole Victorian cult of fairies as little, pretty, ineffective creatures, prone to being co-opted into the service of moral tales for children, and often irretrievably phony. Much of his essay “On Fairy—Stories”, indeed (published in 1945 in a memorial volume for Charles Williams, and there expanded from a lecture given in 1939 in honour of Andrew Lang the fairy-tale collector) is avowedly corrective, both of scholarly terminology and of popular taste. Tolkien thought he knew better, was in touch with older, deeper, and more powerful conceptions than the Victorians knew, even those as learned as Andrew Lang. However, while he had no time for fairies, Tolkien was all for Faërie itself, the land, as Bilbo Baggins puts it, of “dragons and goblins and giants”, the land where one may hear of “the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widow’s sons”. The stories and poems in this book show Tolkien trying out various approaches to perilous realms of one kind or another, all of them suggestive, original, independent. They represent, one may say, the pictures Niggle did not “tack on to the edges of his great picture”. They hint tantalisingly at directions which might have been explored further, like the later unwritten history of Farmer Giles’s Little Kingdom. And they give quite different views of Tolkien’s inspiration, spread over a period of at least forty years, and extending from maturity to old age. Also, as it happens, we know a good deal about how each of them came into being. Roverandom, not published till 1998, began more than seventy years earlier as a story with a single limited purpose: to console a little boy for the loss of his toy dog. In September 1925 the Tolkien family, father, mother, and three sons, John (aged eight), Michael (aged five), and baby Christopher, went on holiday to the seaside town of Filey in Yorkshire. Michael at that time was very attached to a small toy dog, which went everywhere with him. He and his father and elder brother went down to the beach, he put it down to play, but when they went back for it they couldn’t find it: the dog was white with black spots, and on a white shingle beach it was invisible. They looked for it without success that day and the next, and then a storm wrecked the beach and made further search impossible. To cheer Michael up, Tolkien invented a story in which toy Rover was not a toy, but a real dog turned into a toy by an angry wizard; the toy then met a friendly wizard on the beach, who sent him off on various quests in order to become a real dog again, and be reunited with his one-time owner, the boy called “Two”. Like all Tolkien’s stories, this grew in the telling, being written down, with several of Tolkien’s own illustrations, probably around Christmas 1927, and reaching final shape at about the same time as The Hobbit, in 1936. Besides the beach at Filey, where Rover meets the sandwizard Psamathos, Roverandom has three main settings, the light side of the Moon, where the Man in the Moon has his tower, the dark side, where sleeping children come down the moon-path to play in the valley of dreams, and the undersea kingdom of the mer-king, where the angry wizard Artaxerxes has gone to take up a position as Pacific Atlantic Magician, or PAM. Both in the Moon and under the sea Rover is befriended by a moon-dog, or a mer-dog, both called Rover, which is why he has to take the name Roverandom. The three of them get into continual scrapes, teasing the Great White Dragon on the Moon, and stirring up the Sea-serpent on the ocean-bed, whose writhings send a storm like the one that scattered the shingle at Filey, while Roverandom is carried by the great whale Uin across the Shadowy Seas and beyond the Magic Isles to within sight of Elvenhome itself and the light of Faery—the nearest Tolkien comes to attaching this story to his greater mythology. “I should catch it, if this was found out!”, says Uin, diving hastily, and we hear no more of what would be Valinor. “Catch it!” captures the tone of this early and humorous piece. The little dogs’ adventures are playful, the animals who transport them, Mew the gull and Uin the whale, are no worse than condescending, and even the three wizards who make an appearance are good-natured or, in the case of Artaxerxes, something less than competent. Nevertheless there are hints of things older and darker and deeper. The Great White Dragon the dogs tease on the Moon is also the White Dragon of England in the Merlin legend, forever at war with the Red Dragon of the Welsh; the Sea-serpent recalls the Midgard Serpent who will be the death of Thor on the day of Ragnarok; mer-dog Rover remembers a Viking master who sounds very like the famous King Olaf Tryggvason. There is myth, and legend, and even history, in Roverandom. Nor did Tolkien forget that even for children there must be suggestions of peril in the Perilous Realm. The dark side of the Moon has black spiders, as well as grey ones ready to pickle little dogs for their larders, while on the white side “there were sword-flies, and glass-beetles with jaws like steel-traps, and pale unicornets with stings like spears…And worse than the insects were the shadowbats”, not to mention, on the way back from the valley where the children go in dreams, “nasty creepy things in the bogs” that without the Man in the Moon’s protection “would otherwise have grabbed the little dog quick”. There are sea-goblins too, and a whole list of calamities caused by Artaxerxes tipping out his spells. Already Tolkien had grasped the effect of suggestion, of stories not told, of beings and powers (like the Necromancer in The Hobbit) held just out of sight. Whatever logic may say, time spent on details, even when they lead nowhere, is not all simply “niggling”. Humour is also the dominant tone of “Farmer Giles of Ham”, but it is humour of a different sort, more adult and even scholarly. Once again, this story began as a tale told impromptu to Tolkien’s children: his eldest son John remembered being told a version of it as the family sheltered under a bridge from a storm, probably after they moved to Oxford in 1926. (One of the major scenes in the story is the dragon Chrysophylax coming out from under a bridge to rout the king and his army.) In the first written version, the narrator is “Daddy”, and a child interrupts to ask what is a “blunderbuss”. The tale was steadily expanded, reaching its final shape when it was read to an Oxford student society in January 1940, and was eventually published in 1949. The first joke lies in the title, for we have two of them, one in English and one in Latin. Tolkien pretends to have translated the story out of Latin, and in his “Foreword” imitates a kind of scholarly introduction, which is thoroughly patronising. The imaginary editor despises the imaginary narrator’s Latin, sees the tale as useful mainly for explaining place-names, and raises a snobbish eyebrow at those deluded people who “may find the character and adventures of its hero attractive in themselves”. But the tale takes its revenge. The editor shows his approval of “sober annals” and “historians of the reign of Arthur”, but the “swift alternations of war and peace” he mentions come from the start of the romance of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as marvellous and unhistorical a source as one could hope to find. As the story indicates, the truth is that the “popular lays” which the editor sneers at are much more reliable than the scholarly commentary imposed on them. All through Farmer Giles, the old and the traditional defeat the learned and new-fangled. The “Four Wise Clerks of Oxenford” define a blunderbuss, and their definition is that of the great Oxford English Dictionary with (in Tolkien’s day) its four successive editors. Giles’s blunderbuss, however, defies the definition and works just the same. “Plain heavy swords” are “out of fashion” at the king’s court, and the king gives one away to Giles as being of no value: but the sword is “Tailbiter” (or if one insists on using Latin, “Caudimordax”), and Giles is heartened by having it, even in the face of dragons, because of his love of the old tales and heroic songs which have gone out of fashion too. Gone out of fashion, maybe, but not gone away. All his life Tolkien was fascinated by survivals: words and phrases and sayings, even stories and rhymes, which came from a prehistoric past but which had been passed on by word of mouth, quite naturally, often garbled and generally unrecognized, right down to modern common experience. Fairy-stories are an obvious example, kept in being for centuries not by scholars but by old grannies and nursemaids. Nursery-rhymes too. Where do they come from? Old King Cole figures in Tolkien’s “Foreword” (suitably transferred to scholarly pseudohistory), and Chrysophylax quotes “Humpty Dumpty” when he comes out from under the bridge. Two more nursery-rhymes were rewritten as the “Man in the Moon” poems in Tom Bombadil. Riddles are survivals as well, told by Anglo-Saxons (we still have more than a hundred of them), and by modern schoolchildren. And then there are popular sayings, always open to revision—“Sunny Sam” the blacksmith inverts a couple of them in Farmer Giles, as does Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings, with his “All that is gold does not glitter”—but never dying out. And the commonest types of survival are names, of people and of places. They often descend from remote antiquity, their meaning is often forgotten, but they are still overpoweringly present. Tolkien was convinced that old heroic names hung on even in names associated with his own family, and one inspiration for Farmer Giles must be the urge to “make sense” of the local Buckinghamshire placenames of Tame and Worminghall. Myths are the greatest of survivals, though, and the most important revenge in Farmer Giles is the revenge of the mythical on the everyday. For who is to say which is which? It is the young and silly dragons who conclude “So knights are mythical!…We always thought so.” It is the silly over-civilised court which prefers sweet and sticky Mock Dragon’s Tail to Real Tail. The courtiers’ descendants (Tolkien implies) will eventually substitute their feeble imitations for the real thing even in fantasy—just like Nokes the Cook in Smith of Wootton Major, with his sad diminished idea of the Fairy Queen and Faërie itself. Giles deals firmly and fairly with king and court and dragon alike, though we should not forget the assistance he receives from the parson—a scholar who makes up for all the others—and from the story’s unsung heroine, the grey mare. She knew what she was doing all the time, even when she sniffed at Giles’s unnecessary spurs. He didn’t need to pretend to be a knight. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil also owe their existence to prompting from Tolkien’s family. In 1961 his Aunt Jane Neave suggested to him that he might bring out a little book with Tom Bombadil in it, which people like her could afford to buy as Christmas presents. Tolkien responded by collecting a clutch of poems he had already written at different times over the preceding forty years or more. Most of the sixteen had been printed, sometimes in very obscure publications, in the 1920s and 1930s, but Tolkien took the opportunity in 1962 to revise them thoroughly. By this time The Lord of the Rings had appeared, and was already well-known, and Tolkien did what Niggle had done with his earlier pictures: he put these early compositions into the overall frame of his greater one. Once again he used the device of the scholarly editor, this time someone who has access to the Red Book of Westmarch, the hobbit-compilation from which The Lord of the Rings was supposed to have been drawn, and who has decided this time to edit not the main story but the “marginalia”—the things which medieval scribes in reality often wrote round the edges of their more official works. This device allowed Tolkien to put in poems which were clearly just jokes, like no. 12, “Cat”, written as late as 1956 for his granddaughter Joanna; or poems which had no connection with Middle-earth, like no. 9, “The Mewlips”, originally printed in The Oxford Magazine for 1937 and there sub-titled “Lines Induced by Sensations When Waiting for an Answer at the Door of an Exalted Academic Person”; or poems which did have such a connection, but one which now made Tolkien uneasy. No. 3, “Errantry”, for instance, had been first written at least thirty years before, and had then been revised to become a song sung by Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings, but the names in it did not fit Tolkien’s increasingly developed Elvish languages. Editor-Tolkien accordingly explains that while the poem is Bilbo’s, he must have written it not long after his retirement to Rivendell, at a time when he did not know much about Elvish tradition. By the time Bilbo composed the Lord of the Rings version, he knew better, though Strider still thinks he should have left well alone. Several other poems, like nos. 7 and 8, the two troll-poems, or no. 10, “Oliphaunt”, are ascribed to Sam Gamgee, which helps to account for their non-serious nature. Nos. 5 and 6, the two “Man in the Moon” poems, both of them dating back to 1923, confirm Tolkien’s interest in nursery-rhymes: they are, in Tolkien’s imagination, the old complete poems of which modern children’s rhymes are garbled descendants, and the kind of thing that would have been popular in his imaginary Shire. The first two and last three poems in the collection however show Tolkien working more deeply and more seriously. No. 1, the title poem, had also been published in The Oxford Magazine, in 1934, but no. 2, “Bombadil Goes Boating”, may date back even further. Like Roverandom, Bombadil had begun as the name of one of the Tolkien children’s toys, but had soon established himself as a kind of image of the English countryside and the country-folk and their enduring traditions, powerful, indeed masterful, but uninterested in exercising power. In both poems Tom is continually threatened, seriously by Barrow-wight, jokingly by otter-lad and by the hobbits who shoot arrows into his hat, or else teased by the wren and the kingfisher, and again by the hobbits. He gives as good as he gets, or better, but while the first poem ends on a note of triumph and contentment, the second ends on a note of loss: Tom will not come back. The last three poems are all heavily reworked from earlier originals, and have become thematically much darker. “The Hoard” (going back to 1923) describes what Tolkien in The Hobbit would call “dragon-sickness”, the greed and possessiveness which successively overpowers elf and dwarf and dragon and hero and leads all of them—like Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit and the elf-king Thingol “Greycloak” in The Silmarillion—to their deaths. “The Last Ship” shows Tolkien balanced between two urges, on the one hand the wish to escape mortality and travel to the Undying Lands like Frodo, and on the other the sense that this is not only impossible, but ultimately unwelcome: the right thing to do is to turn back and live one’s life, like Sam Gamgee. Right it may be, but as Arwen finds, if there is no way to reverse it that choice is bitter. Finally, “The Sea-Bell” reminds us why the Perilous Realm is perilous. Those who have travelled to it, like the speaker of the poem, know they will not be allowed to stay there, but when they come back, they are overwhelmed by a sense of loss. As Sam Gamgee says of Galadriel, the inhabitants of Faërie may mean no harm, but they are still dangerous for ordinary mortals. Those who encounter them may never be the same again. In Tolkien’s editorial fiction, though the speaker should not be identified with Frodo himself, the hobbit-scribe who called the poem “Frodos Dreme” was expressing the fear created in the Shire by the dimly-understood events of the War of the Ring, as also (in reality) Tolkien’s own sense of loss and age. These themes become stronger in Tolkien’s last published story, Smith of Wootton Major. This began with a request from a publisher, in 1964, that Tolkien should write a preface to a new illustrated edition of the story “The Golden Key”, by the Victorian author George MacDonald. (Tolkien had praised the story in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” nearly twenty years before.) Tolkien agreed, began work on the preface, and got a few pages into it when he started to illustrate his argument about the unexpected power of Faërie with a story about a cook trying to bake a cake for a children’s party. But at that point he broke off the preface, which was never resumed, and wrote the story instead. A developed version was read to a large audience in Oxford on 28 October 1966, and the story was published the following year. Its title is almost aggressively plain, even more so than Farmer Giles of Ham, and Tolkien himself noted that it sounded like an old-fashioned school story. The name “Wootton”, however, though perfectly ordinary in England, has a meaning, as all names once did. It means “the town in the wood”, and the second sentence confirms that it was “deep in the trees”. Woods and forests were important for Tolkien, recurring from Mirkwood to Fangorn, and one of their recurrent (and realistic) features is that in them people lose their bearings and their way. One feels this is true of the inhabitants of Wootton Major, or many of them: a bit smug, easily satisfied, concerned above all with food and drink—not entirely bad qualities, but limited. To this Smith is an exception. At the children’s party which the village holds every twenty-four years he swallows a star, and this star is his passport into Faërie (or Faery, as Tolkien spells it here). The story follows Smith’s life, recounting some of his visions and experiences in Faërie, but also takes us through repeated festivals till the time when Smith has to give up the star, and allow it to be baked into a cake for some other child to succeed him. Smith knows when he leaves Faërie for the last time that “his way now led back to bereavement”. He is in the same position, if with more acceptance, as the narrator of “The Sea-bell”. The story is “a farewell to Fairyland”. This does not mean that Smith has been a failure. His passport to the Other World has made him a better person in this one, and his life has done something to weaken what Tolkien called, in a commentary on his own story, “the iron ring of the familiar” and the “adamantine ring of belief”, in Wootton, that everything worth knowing is known already. The star is also passed on, in an unexpected way, and will continue to be. Nevertheless the power of the banal remains strong, and the main conflict in the story lies between Alf—an emissary from Faërie into the real world, as Smith is a visitor in the opposite direction—and his predecessor as Master Cook to the village, whose name is Nokes. Nokes sums up much of what Tolkien disliked in real life. It is sad that he has such a limited idea himself of Faërie, of whatever lies beyond the humdrum world of the village deep among the trees, but it is inexcusable that he denies that there can be any more imaginative one, and tries to keep the children down to his own level. Sweet and sticky is his idea of a cake, insipidly pretty is his idea of fairies. Against this stand Smith’s visions of the grim elf-warriors returning from battles on the Dark Marches, of the King’s Tree, the wild Wind and the weeping birch, the elf-maidens dancing. Nokes is daunted in the end by his apprentice Alf, revealed as the King of Faërie, but he never changes his mind. He gets the last word in the story, most of the inhabitants of Wootton are happy to see Alf go, and the star passes out of Smith’s family and into Nokes’s. If Smith and Alf and Faërie have had an effect, it will take a while to show. But that may be just the way things are. The way they are in this world, that is. In “Leaf by Niggle” Tolkien presents his vision of a world elsewhere, one with room in it for Middle-earth and Faërie and all other hearts’ desires as well. Nevertheless, although it presents a “divine comedy” and ends with world-shaking laughter, the story began in fear. Tolkien reported in more than one letter that the whole story came to him in a dream and that he wrote it down immediately, at some time (reports vary) between 1939 and 1942. This is the more plausible in that it is so obvious what kind of a dream it was: an anxiety-dream, of the kind we all get. Students with an exam to take dream that they have overslept and missed it, academics due to make a presentation dream they have arrived on the podium with nothing to read and nothing in their heads, and the fear at the heart of “Leaf by Niggle” is clearly that of never getting finished. Niggle knows he has a deadline—it is obviously death, the journey we all have to take—he has a painting he desperately wants to finish, but he puts things off and puts things off, and when he finally buckles down to it, first there is a call on his time he cannot refuse, and then he gets sick, and then an Inspector turns up and condemns his painting as scrap, and as he starts to contest this the Driver turns up and tells him he must leave now with no more than he can snatch up. He leaves even that little bag on the train, and when he turns back for it, the train has gone. This kind of one-thing-after-another dream is all too familiar. The motive for it is also easy to imagine, in Tolkien’s case. By 1940 he had been working on his “Silmarillion” mythology for more than twenty years, and none of it had been published except for a scattering of poems and the “spin-off” The Hobbit. He had been writing The Lord of the Rings since Christmas 1937, and it too was going slowly. His study was full of drafts and revisions. One can guess also that, like most professors, he found his many administrative duties a distraction, though Niggle (and perhaps Tolkien) is guiltily aware that he is easily distracted, and not a good manager of his time. Concentration and time-management are what Niggle has to learn in the Workhouse, which most critics have identified as a version of Purgatory. His reward is to find that in the Other World, dreams come true: there before him is his Tree, better than he had ever painted it and better even than he had imagined it, and beyond it the Forest and the Mountains that he had only begun to imagine. And yet there is room for more improvement, and to make it Niggle has to work with his neighbour Parish, who in the real world had seemed only another distraction. What becomes their joint vision is recognized as therapeutically valuable even by the Voices who judge people’s lives, but even then it is only an introduction to a greater vision mortals can only guess at. But everyone has to start somewhere. As the Fairy Queen says in Smith, “Better a little doll, maybe, than no memory of Faery at all”, and better Faery than no sense of anything beyond the mundane world of everyday. “Leaf” after all has two endings, one in the Other World and one in the world which Niggle left. The Other World ending is one of joy and laughter, but in the real world hope and memory are crushed. Niggle’s great painting of the Tree was used to patch a hole, one leaf of it went to a museum, but that too was burned down and Niggle was entirely forgotten. The last words ever said about him are “never knew he painted”, and the future seems to belong to people like Councillor Tompkins, with his views on practical education and—remember that this is a story of at latest the early 1940s—the elimination of undesirable elements of Society. If there is a remedy for us, Tolkien says, stressing that Niggle uses the word “quite literally”, it will be “a gift”. Another word for “gift” is “grace”. “Leaf by Niggle” ends, then, both with what Tolkien in “On Fairy-Stories” calls “dyscatastrophe…sorrow and failure”, and with what he regards as the “highest function” of fairy-story and of evangelium, the “good news” or Gospel beyond it, and that is “eucatastrophe”, the “sudden joyous ‘turn’”, the “sudden and miraculous grace”, which one finds in Grimm, in modern fairy-tale, and supremely in Tolkien’s own “Tales of the Perilous Realm”. In the Middle English poem Sir Orfeo, which Tolkien edited in 1943-4 (in an anonymous pamphlet of which, characteristically, hardly any copies survive), the barons comfort the steward who has just been told his lord is dead, “and telleth him hou it geth, / It is no bot of mannes deth”. That’s the way it goes, they say, there’s no help for it, or as Tolkien rendered the last line in his posthumously-published translation of 1975, “death of man no man can mend”. The barons are compassionate, well-intentioned, and above all sensible: that is the way things go. But the poem proves them wrong, just this once, for Orfeo is alive, and has rescued his queen from captivity in Faërie as well. We find the same “turn” in The Lord of the Rings, as Sam, who has lain down to die on Mount Doom after the destruction of the Ring, wakes to find himself alive, rescued, and faced by the resurrected Gandalf. There is joy in the Perilous Realm, and on its Dark Marches too, all the stronger for the real-life sorrows and losses which it challenges and surmounts. TOM SHIPPEY ROVERANDOM (#ulink_04c2b73f-afb8-5505-bde7-c352da065d8c) 1 (#ulink_e5759819-a809-555c-b02d-ba3540bb1d2a) Once upon a time there was a little dog, and his name was Rover. He was very small, and very young, or he would have known better; and he was very happy playing in the garden in the sunshine with a yellow ball, or he would never have done what he did. Not every old man with ragged trousers is a bad old man: some are bone-and-bottle men, and have little dogs of their own; and some are gardeners; and a few, a very few, are wizards prowling round on a holiday looking for something to do. This one was a wizard, the one that now walked into the story. He came wandering up the garden-path in a ragged old coat, with an old pipe in his mouth, and an old green hat on his head. If Rover had not been so busy barking at the ball, he might have noticed the blue feather stuck in the back of the green hat, and then he would have suspected that the man was a wizard, as any other sensible little dog would; but he never saw the feather at all. When the old man stooped down and picked up the ball—he was thinking of turning it into an orange, or even a bone or a piece of meat for Rover—Rover growled, and said: ‘Put it down!’ Without ever a ‘please’. Of course the wizard, being a wizard, understood perfectly, and he answered back again: ‘Be quiet, silly!’ Without ever a ‘please’. Then he put the ball in his pocket, just to tease the dog, and turned away. I am sorry to say that Rover immediately bit his trousers, and tore out quite a piece. Perhaps he also tore out a piece of the wizard. Anyway the old man suddenly turned round very angry and shouted: ‘Idiot! Go and be a toy!’ After that the most peculiar things began to happen. Rover was only a little dog to begin with, but he suddenly felt very much smaller. The grass seemed to grow monstrously tall and wave far above his head; and a long way away through the grass, like the sun rising through the trees of a forest, he could see the huge yellow ball, where the wizard had thrown it down again. He heard the gate click as the old man went out, but he could not see him. He tried to bark, but only a little tiny noise came out, too small for ordinary people to hear; and I don’t suppose even a dog would have noticed it. So small had he become that I am sure, if a cat had come along just then, she would have thought Rover was a mouse, and would have eaten him. Tinker would. Tinker was the large black cat that lived in the same house. At the very thought of Tinker, Rover began to feel thoroughly frightened; but cats were soon put right out of his mind. The garden about him suddenly vanished, and Rover felt himself whisked off, he didn’t know where. When the rush was over, he found he was in the dark, lying against a lot of hard things; and there he lay, in a stuffy box by the feel of it, very uncomfortably for a long while. He had nothing to eat or drink; but worst of all, he found he could not move. At first he thought this was because he was packed so tight, but afterwards he discovered that in the daytime he could only move very little, and with a great effort, and then only when no one was looking. Only after midnight could he walk and wag his tail, and a bit stiffly at that. He had become a toy. And because he had not said ‘please’ to the wizard, now all day long he had to sit up and beg. He was fixed like that. After what seemed a very long, dark time he tried once more to bark loud enough to make people hear. Then he tried to bite the other things in the box with him, stupid little toy animals, really only made of wood or lead, not enchanted real dogs like Rover. But it was no good; he could not bark or bite. Suddenly someone came and took off the lid of the box, and let in the light. ‘We had better put a few of these animals in the window this morning, Harry,’ said a voice, and a hand came into the box. ‘Where did this one come from?’ said the voice, as the hand took hold of Rover. ‘I don’t remember seeing this one before. It’s no business in the threepenny box, I’m sure. Did you ever see anything so real-looking? Look at its fur and its eyes!’ ‘Mark him sixpence,’ said Harry, ‘and put him in the front of the window!’ There in the front of the window in the hot sun poor little Rover had to sit all the morning, and all the afternoon, till nearly tea-time; and all the while he had to sit up and pretend to beg, though really in his inside he was very angry indeed. ‘I’ll run away from the very first people that buy me,’ he said to the other toys. ‘I’m real. I’m not a toy, and I won’t be a toy! But I wish someone would come and buy me quick. I hate this shop, and I can’t move all stuck up in the window like this.’ ‘What do you want to move for?’ said the other toys. ‘We don’t. It’s more comfortable standing still thinking of nothing. The more you rest, the longer you live. So just shut up! We can’t sleep while you’re talking, and there are hard times in rough nurseries in front of some of us.’ They would not say any more, so poor Rover had no one at all to talk to, and he was very miserable, and very sorry he had bitten the wizard’s trousers. I could not say whether it was the wizard or not who sent the mother to take the little dog away from the shop. Anyway, just when Rover was feeling his miserablest, into the shop she walked with a shopping-basket. She had seen Rover through the window, and thought what a nice little dog he would be for her boy. She had three boys, and one was particularly fond of little dogs, especially of little black and white dogs. So she bought Rover, and he was screwed up in paper and put in her basket among the things she had been buying for tea. Rover soon managed to wriggle his head out of the paper. He smelt cake. But he found he could not get at it; and right down there among the paper bags he growled a little toy growl. Only the shrimps heard him, and they asked him what was the matter. He told them all about it, and expected them to be very sorry for him, but they only said: ‘How would you like to be boiled? Have you ever been boiled?’ ‘No! I have never been boiled, as far as I remember,’ said Rover, ‘though I have sometimes been bathed, and that is not particularly nice. But I expect boiling isn’t half as bad as being bewitched.’ ‘Then you have certainly never been boiled,’ they answered. ‘You know nothing about it. It’s the very worst thing that could happen to anyone—we are still red with rage at the very idea.’ Rover did not like the shrimps, so he said: ‘Never mind, they will soon eat you up, and I shall sit and watch them!’ After that the shrimps had no more to say to him, and he was left to lie and wonder what sort of people had bought him. He soon found out. He was carried to a house, and the basket was set down on a table, and all the parcels were taken out. The shrimps were taken off to the larder, but Rover was given straight away to the little boy he had been bought for, who took him into the nursery and talked to him. Rover would have liked the little boy, if he had not been too angry to listen to what he was saying to him. The little boy barked at him in the best dog-language he could manage (he was rather good at it), but Rover never tried to answer. All the time he was thinking he had said he would run away from the first people that bought him, and he was wondering how he could do it; and all the time he had to sit up and pretend to beg, while the little boy patted him and pushed him about, over the table and along the floor. At last night came, and the little boy went to bed; and Rover was put on a chair by the bedside, still begging until it was quite dark. The blind was down; but outside the moon rose up out of the sea, and laid the silver path across the waters that is the way to places at the edge of the world and beyond, for those that can walk on it. The father and mother and the three little boys lived close by the sea in a white house that looked right out over the waves to nowhere. When the little boys were asleep, Rover stretched his tired, stiff legs and gave a little bark that nobody heard except an old wicked spider up a corner. Then he jumped from the chair to the bed, and from the bed he tumbled off onto the carpet; and then he ran away out of the room and down the stairs and all over the house. Although he was very pleased to be able to move again, and having once been real and properly alive he could jump and run a good deal better than most toys at night, he found it very difficult and dangerous getting about. He was now so small that going downstairs was almost like jumping off walls; and getting upstairs again was very tiring and awkward indeed. And it was all no use. He found all the doors shut and locked, of course; and there was not a crack or a hole by which he could creep out. So poor Rover could not run away that night, and morning found a very tired little dog sitting up and pretending to beg on the chair, just where he had been left. The two older boys used to get up, when it was fine, and run along the sands before their breakfast. That morning when they woke and pulled up the blind, they saw the sun jumping out of the sea, all fiery-red with clouds about his head, as if he had had a cold bathe and was drying himself with towels. They were soon up and dressed; and off they went down the cliff and onto the shore for a walk—and Rover went with them. Just as little boy Two (to whom Rover belonged) was leaving the bedroom, he saw Rover sitting on the chest-of-drawers where he had put him while he was dressing. ‘He is begging to go out!’ he said, and put him in his trouser-pocket. But Rover was not begging to go out, and certainly not in a trouser-pocket. He wanted to rest and get ready for the night again; for he thought that this time he might find a way out and escape, and wander away and away, until he came back to his home and his garden and his yellow ball on the lawn. He had a sort of idea that if once he could get back to the lawn, it might come all right: the enchantment might break, or he might wake up and find it had all been a dream. So, as the little boys scrambled down the cliffpath and galloped along the sands, he tried to bark and struggle and wriggle in the pocket. Try how he would, he could only move a very little, even though he was hidden and no one could see him. Still he did what he could, and luck helped him. There was a handkerchief in the pocket, all crumpled and bundled up, so that Rover was not very deep down, and what with his efforts and the galloping of his master, before long he had managed to poke out his nose and have a sniff round. Very surprised he was, too, at what he smelt and what he saw. He had never either seen or smelt the sea before, and the country village where he had been born was miles and miles from sound or snuff of it. Suddenly, as he was leaning out, a great big bird, all white and grey, went sweeping by just over the heads of the boys, making a noise like a great cat on wings. Rover was so startled that he fell right out of the pocket onto the soft sand, and no one heard him. The great bird flew on and away, never noticing his tiny barks, and the little boys walked on and on along the sands, and never thought about him at all. At first Rover was very pleased with himself. ‘I’ve run away! I’ve run away!’ he barked, toy barking that only other toys could have heard, and there were none to listen. Then he rolled over and lay in the clean dry sand that was still cool from lying out all night under the stars. But when the little boys went by on their way home, and never noticed him, and he was left all alone on the empty shore, he was not quite so pleased. The shore was deserted except by the gulls. Beside the marks of their claws on the sand the only other footprints to be seen were the tracks of the little boys’ feet. That morning they had gone for their walk on a very lonely part of the beach that they seldom visited. Indeed it was not often that anyone went there; for though the sand was clean and yellow, and the shingle white, and the sea blue with silver foam in a little cove under the grey cliffs, there was a queer feeling there, except just at early morning when the sun was new. People said that strange things came there, sometimes even in the afternoon; and by the evening the place was full of mermen and mermaidens, not to speak of the smaller sea-goblins that rode their small sea-horses with bridles of green weed right up to the cliffs and left them lying in the foam at the edge of the water. Now the reason of all this queerness was simple: the oldest of all the sand-sorcerers lived in that cove, Psamathists as the sea-people call them in their splashing language. Psamathos Psamathides was this one’s name, or so he said, and a great fuss he made about the proper pronunciation. But he was a wise old thing, and all sorts of strange folk came to see him; for he was an excellent magician, and very kindly (to the right people) into the bargain, if a bit crusty on the surface. The mer-folk used to laugh over his jokes for weeks after one of his midnight parties. But it was not easy to find him in the daytime. He liked to lie buried in the warm sand when the sun was shining, so that not more than the tip of one of his long ears stuck out; and even if both of his ears were showing, most people like you and me would have taken them for bits of stick. It is possible that old Psamathos knew all about Rover. He certainly knew the old wizard who had enchanted him; for magicians and wizards are few and far between, and they know one another very well, and keep an eye on one another’s doings too, not always being the best of friends in private life. At any rate there was Rover lying in the soft sand and beginning to feel very lonely and rather queer, and there was Psamathos, though Rover did not see him, peeping at him out of a pile of sand that the mermaids had made for him the night before. But the sand-sorcerer said nothing. And Rover said nothing. And breakfast-time went by, and the sun got high and hot. Rover looked at the sea, which sounded cool, and then he got a horrible fright. At first he thought that the sand must have got into his eyes, but soon he saw that there could be no mistake: the sea was moving nearer and nearer, and swallowing up more and more sand; and the waves were getting bigger and bigger and more foamy all the time. The tide was coming in, and Rover was lying just below the high-water mark, but he did not know anything about that. He grew more and more terrified as he watched, and thought of the splashing waves coming right up to the cliffs and washing him away into the foaming sea (far worse than any soapy bathing-tub), still miserably begging. That is indeed what might have happened to him; but it did not. I dare say Psamathos had something to do with it; at any rate I imagine that the wizard’s spell was not so strong in that queer cove, so close to the residence of another magician. Certainly when the sea had come very near, and Rover was nearly bursting with fright as he struggled to roll a bit further up the beach, he suddenly found he could move. His size was not changed, but he was no longer a toy. He could move quickly and properly with all his legs, daytime though it still was. He need not beg any more, and he could run over the sands where they were harder; and he could bark—not toy barks, but real sharp little fairy-dog barks equal to his fairy-dog size. He was so delighted, and he barked so loud, that if you had been there, you would have heard him then, clear and far-away-like, like the echo of a sheep-dog coming down the wind in the hills. And then the sand-sorcerer suddenly stuck his head out of the sand. He certainly was ugly, and about as big as a very large dog; but to Rover in his enchanted size he looked hideous and monstrous. Rover sat down and stopped barking at once. ‘What are you making such a noise about, little dog?’ said Psamathos Psamathides. ‘This is my time for sleep!’ As a matter of fact all times were times for him to go to sleep, unless something was going on which amused him, such as a dance of the mermaids in the cove (at his invitation). In that case he got out of the sand and sat on a rock to see the fun. Mermaids may be very graceful in the water, but when they tried to dance on their tails on the shore, Psamathos thought them comical. ‘This is my time for sleep!’ he said again, when Rover did not answer. Still Rover said nothing, and only wagged his tail apologetically. ‘Do you know who I am?’ he asked. ‘I am Psamathos Psamathides, the chief of all the Psamathists!’ He said this several times very proudly, pronouncing every letter, and with every P he blew a cloud of sand down his nose. Rover was nearly buried in it, and he sat there looking so frightened and so unhappy that the sand-sorcerer took pity on him. In fact he suddenly stopped looking fierce and burst out laughing: ‘You are a funny little dog, Little Dog! Indeed I don’t remember ever having seen another little dog that was quite such a little dog, Little Dog!’ And then he laughed again, and after that he suddenly looked solemn. ‘Have you been having any quarrels with wizards lately?’ he asked almost in a whisper; and he shut one eye, and looked so friendly and so knowing out of the other one that Rover told him all about it. It was probably quite unnecessary, for Psamathos, as I told you, probably knew about it beforehand; still Rover felt all the better for talking to someone who appeared to understand and had more sense than mere toys. ‘It was a wizard all right,’ said the sorcerer, when Rover had finished his tale. ‘Old Artaxerxes, I should think from your description. He comes from Persia. But he lost his way one day, as even the best wizards sometimes do (unless they always stay at home like me), and the first person he met on the road went and put him on the way to Pershore instead. He has lived in those parts, except on holidays, ever since. They say he is a nimble plum-gatherer for an old man—two thousand, if he is a day—and extremely fond of cider. But that’s neither here nor there.’ By which Psamathos meant that he was getting away from what he wanted to say. ‘The point is, what can I do for you?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said Rover. ‘Do you want to go home? I am afraid I can’t make you your proper size, at least not without asking Artaxerxes’ permission first, as I don’t want to quarrel with him at the moment. But I think I might venture to send you home. After all, Artaxerxes can always send you back again, if he wants to. Though of course he might send you somewhere much worse than a toyshop next time, if he was really annoyed.’ Rover did not like the sound of this at all, and he ventured to say that if he went back home so small, he might not be recognized, except by Tinker the cat; and he did not very much want to be recognized by Tinker in his present state. ‘Very well!’ said Psamathos. ‘We must think of something else. In the meantime, as you are real again, would you like something to eat?’ Before Rover had time to say ‘Yes, please! YES! PLEASE!’ there appeared on the sands in front of him a little plate with bread and gravy and two tiny bones of just the right size, and a little drinking-bowl full of water with drink puppy drink written round it in small blue letters. He ate and drank all there was before he asked: ‘How did you do that?—Thank you!’ He suddenly thought of adding the ‘thank you’, as wizards and people of that sort seemed rather touchy folk. Psamathos only smiled; so Rover lay down on the hot sand and went to sleep, and dreamed of bones, and of chasing cats up plum-trees only to see them change into wizards with green hats who threw enormous plums like marrows at him. And the wind blew gently all the time, and buried him almost over his head in blown sand. That is why the little boys never found him, although they came down into the cove specially to look for him, as soon as little boy Two found he was lost. Their father was with them this time; and when they had looked and looked till the sun began to get low and tea-timish, he took them back home and would not stay any longer: he knew too many queer things about that place. Little boy Two had to be content for some time after that with an ordinary threepenny toy dog (from the same shop); but somehow, though he had only had him such a short while, he did not forget his little begging-dog. At the moment, however, you can think of him sitting down very mournful to his tea, without any dog at all; while far away inland the old lady who had kept Rover and spoiled him, when he was an ordinary, proper-sized animal, was just writing out an advertisement for a lost puppy—‘white with black ears, and answers to the name of Rover’; and while Rover himself slept away on the sands, and Psamathos dozed close by with his short arms folded on his fat tummy. 2 (#ulink_794326fc-260f-59b0-a3e6-88ea65db06db) When Rover woke up, the sun was very low; the shadow of the cliffs was right across the sands, and Psamathos was nowhere to be seen. A large seagull was standing close by looking at him, and for a moment Rover was afraid that he might be going to eat him. But the seagull said: ‘Good evening! I have waited a long time for you to wake up. Psamathos said that you would wake about tea-time, but it is long past that now.’ ‘Please, what are you waiting for me for, Mr Bird?’ asked Rover very politely. ‘My name is Mew,’ said the seagull, ‘and I’m waiting to take you away, as soon as the moon rises, along the moon’s path. But we have one or two things to do before that. Get up on my back and see how you like flying!’ Rover did not like it at all at first. It was all right while Mew was close to the ground, gliding smoothly along with his wings stretched out stiff and still; but when he shot up into the air, or turned sharp from side to side, sloping a different way each time, or stooped sudden and steep, as if he was going to dive into the sea, then the little dog, with the wind whistling in his ears, wished he was safe down on the earth again. He said so several times, but all that Mew would answer was: ‘Hold on! We haven’t begun yet!’ They had been flying about like this for a little, and Rover had just begun to get used to it, and rather tired of it, when suddenly ‘We’re off!’ cried Mew; and Rover very nearly was off. For Mew rose like a rocket steeply into the air, and then set off at a great pace straight down the wind. Soon they were so high that Rover could see, far away and right over the land, the sun going down behind dark hills. They were making for some very tall black cliffs of sheer rock, too sheer for anyone to climb. At the bottom the sea was splashing and sucking at their feet, and nothing grew on their faces, yet they were covered with white things, pale in the dusk. Hundreds of sea-birds were sitting there on narrow ledges, sometimes talking mournfully together, sometimes saying nothing, and sometimes slipping suddenly from their perches to swoop and curve in the air, before diving down to the sea far below where the waves looked like little wrinkles. This was where Mew lived, and he had several people to see, including the oldest and most important of all the Blackbacked Gulls, and messages to collect before he set out. So he set Rover down on one of the narrow ledges, much narrower than a doorstep, and told him to wait there and not to fall off. You may be sure that Rover took care not to fall off, and that with a stiff sideways wind blowing he did not like the feeling of it at all, crouching as close as he could against the face of the cliff, and whimpering. It was altogether a very nasty place for a bewitched and worried little dog to be in. At last the sunlight faded out of the sky entirely, and a mist was on the sea, and the first stars showed in the gathering dark. Then above the mist, far out across the sea, the moon rose round and yellow and began to lay its shining path on the water. Soon after, Mew came back and picked up Rover, who had begun to shiver miserably. The bird’s feathers seemed warm and comfortable after the cold ledge on the cliff, and he snuggled in as close as he could. Then Mew leapt into the air far above the sea, and all the other gulls sprang off their ledges, and cried and wailed good-bye to them, as off they sped along the moon’s path that now stretched straight from the shore to the dark edge of nowhere. Rover did not know in the least where the moon’s path led to, and at present he was much too frightened and excited to ask, and anyway he was beginning to get used to extraordinary things happening to him. As they flew along above the silver shimmer on the sea, the moon rose higher and grew whiter and more bright, till no stars dared stay anywhere near it, and it was left shining all alone in the eastern sky. No doubt Mew was going by Psamathos’ orders to where Psamathos wanted him to go, and no doubt Psamathos helped Mew with magic, for he certainly flew faster and straighter than even the great gulls ordinarily fly, even straight down the wind when they are in a hurry. Yet it was ages before Rover saw anything except the moonlight and the sea below; and all the time the moon got bigger and bigger, and the air got colder and colder. Suddenly on the edge of the sea he saw a dark thing, and it grew as they flew towards it, until he could see that it was an island. Over the water and up to them came the sound of a tremendous barking, a noise made up of all the different kinds and sizes of barks there are: yaps and yelps, and yammers and yowls, growling and grizzling, whickering and whining, snickering and snarling, mumping and moaning, and the most enormous baying, like a giant bloodhound in the backyard of an ogre. All Rover’s fur round his neck suddenly became very real again, and stood up stiff as bristles; and he thought he would like to go down and quarrel with all the dogs there at once—until he remembered how small he was. ‘That’s the Isle of Dogs,’ said Mew, ‘or rather the Isle of Lost Dogs, where all the lost dogs go that are deserving or lucky. It isn’t a bad place, I’m told, for dogs; and they can make as much noise as they like without anyone telling them to be quiet or throwing anything at them. They have a beautiful concert, all barking together their favourite noises, whenever the moon shines bright. They tell me there are bone-trees there, too, with fruit like juicy meat-bones that drops off the trees when it’s ripe. No! We are not going there just now! You see, you can’t be called exactly a dog, though you are no longer quite a toy. In fact Psamathos was rather puzzled, I believe, to know what to do with you, when you said you didn’t want to go home.’ ‘Where are we going to, then?’ asked Rover. He was disappointed at not having a closer look at the Isle of Dogs, after he heard of the bone-trees. ‘Straight up the moon’s path to the edge of the world, and then over the edge and onto the moon. That’s what old Psamathos said.’ Rover did not like the idea of going over the edge of the world at all, and the moon looked a cold sort of place. ‘Why to the moon?’ he asked. ‘There are lots of places on the world I have never been to. I never heard of there being bones in the moon, or even dogs.’ ‘There is at least one dog, for the Man-in-the-Moon keeps one; and since he is a decent old fellow, as well as the greatest of all the magicians, there are sure to be bones for the dog, and probably for visitors. As for why you are being sent there, I dare say you will find that out in good time, if you keep your wits about you and don’t waste time grumbling. I think it is very kind of Psamathos to bother about you at all; in fact I don’t understand why he does. It isn’t like him to do things without a good big reason—and you don’t seem good or big.’ ‘Thank you,’ said Rover, feeling crushed. ‘It is very kind of all these wizards to trouble themselves about me, I am sure, though it is rather upsetting. You never know what will happen next, when once you get mixed up with wizards and their friends.’ ‘It is very much better luck than any yapping little pet puppy-dog deserves,’ said the seagull, and after that they had no more conversation for a long while. The moon got bigger and brighter, and the world below got darker and farther off. At last, all of a sudden, the world came to an end, and Rover could see the stars shining up out of the blackness underneath. Far down he could see the white spray in the moonlight where waterfalls fell over the world’s edge and dropped straight into space. It made him feel most uncomfortably giddy, and he nestled into Mew’s feathers and shut his eyes for a long, long time. When he opened them again the moon was all laid out below them, a new white world shining like snow, with wide open spaces of pale blue and green where the tall pointed mountains threw their long shadows far across the floor. On top of one of the tallest of these, one so tall that it seemed to stab up towards them as Mew swept down, Rover could see a white tower. It was white with pink and pale green lines in it, shimmering as if the tower were built of millions of seashells still wet with foam and gleaming; and the tower stood on the edge of a white precipice, white as a cliff of chalk, but shining with moonlight more brightly than a pane of glass far away on a cloudless night. There was no path down that cliff, as far as Rover could see; but that did not matter at the moment, for Mew was sailing swiftly down, and soon he settled right on the roof of the tower, at a dizzy height above the moon-world that made the cliffs by the sea where Mew lived seem low and safe. To Rover’s great surprise a little door in the roof immediately opened close beside them, and an old man with a long silvery beard popped his head out. ‘Not bad going, that!’ he said. ‘I’ve been timing you ever since you passed over the edge—a thousand miles a minute, I should reckon. You are in a hurry this morning! I’m glad you didn’t bump into my dog. Where in the moon has he got to now, I wonder?’ He drew out an enormously long telescope and put it to one eye. ‘There he is! There he is!’ he shouted. ‘Worrying the moonbeams again, drat him! Come down, sir! Come down, sir!’ he called up into the air, and then began to whistle a long clear silver note. Rover looked up into the air, thinking that this funny old man must be quite mad to whistle to his dog up in the sky; but to his astonishment he saw far up above the tower a little white dog on white wings chasing things that looked like transparent butterflies. ‘Rover! Rover!’ called the old man; and just as our Rover jumped up on Mew’s back to say ‘Here I am!’—without waiting to wonder how the old man knew his name—he saw the little flying dog dive straight down out of the sky and settle on the old man’s shoulders. Then he realised that the Man-in-the-Moon’s dog must also be called Rover. He was not at all pleased, but as nobody took any notice of him, he sat down again and began to growl to himself. The Man-in-the-Moon’s Rover had good ears, and he at once jumped onto the roof of the tower and began to bark like mad; and then he sat down and growled: ‘Who brought that other dog here?’ ‘What other dog?’ said the Man. ‘That silly little puppy on the seagull’s back,’ said the moon-dog. Then, of course, Rover jumped up again and barked his loudest: ‘Silly little puppy yourself! Who said that you could call yourself Rover, a thing more like a cat or a bat than a dog?’ From which you can see that they were going to be very friendly before long. That is the way, anyhow, that little dogs usually talk to strangers of their own kind. ‘O fly away, you two! And stop making such a noise! I want to talk to the postman,’ said the Man. ‘Come on, tiny tot!’ said the moon-dog; and then Rover remembered what a tiny tot he was, even beside the moon-dog who was only small, and instead of barking something rude he only said: ‘I would like to, if only I had some wings and knew how to fly.’ ‘Wings?’ said the Man-in-the-Moon. ‘That’s easy! Have a pair and be off!’ Mew laughed, and actually threw him off his back, right over the edge of the tower’s roof! But Rover had only gasped once, and had only begun to imagine himself falling and falling down like a stone onto the white rocks in the valley miles below, when he discovered that he had got a beautiful pair of white wings with black spots (to match himself). All the same, he had fallen a long way before he could stop, as he wasn’t used to wings. It took him a little while to get really used to them, though long before the Man had finished talking to Mew he was already trying to chase the moon-dog round the tower. He was just beginning to get tired by these first efforts, when the moon-dog dived down to the mountain-top and settled at the edge of the precipice at the foot of the walls. Rover went down after him, and soon they were sitting side by side, taking breath with their tongues hanging out. ‘So you are called Rover after me?’ said the moon-dog. ‘Not after you,’ said our Rover. ‘I’m sure my mistress had never heard of you when she gave me my name.’ ‘That doesn’t matter. I was the first dog that was ever called Rover, thousands of years ago—so you must have been called Rover after me! I was a Rover too! I never would stop anywhere, or belong to anyone before I came here. I did nothing but run away from the time I was a puppy; and I kept on running and roving until one fine morning—a very fine morning, with the sun in my eyes—I fell over the world’s edge chasing a butterfly. ‘A nasty sensation, I can tell you! Luckily the moon was just passing under the world at the moment, and after a terrible time falling right through clouds, and bumping into shooting stars, and that sort of thing, I tumbled onto it. Slap into one of the enormous silver nets that the giant grey spiders here spin from mountain to mountain I fell, and the spider was just coming down his ladder to pickle me and carry me off to his larder, when the Man-in-the-Moon appeared. ‘He sees absolutely everything that happens on this side of the moon with that telescope of his. The spiders are afraid of him, because he only lets them alone if they spin silver threads and ropes for him. He more than suspects that they catch his moonbeams—and that he won’t allow—though they pretend to live only on dragonmoths and shadowbats. He found moonbeams’ wings in that spider’s larder, and he turned him into a lump of stone, as quick as kiss your hand. Then he picked me up and patted me, and said: “That was a nasty drop! You had better have a pair of wings to prevent any more accidents—now fly off and amuse yourself! Don’t worry the moonbeams, and don’t kill my white rabbits! And come home when you feel hungry; the window is usually open on the roof!” ‘I thought he was a decent sort, but rather mad. But don’t you make that mistake—about his being mad, I mean. I daren’t really hurt his moonbeams or his rabbits. He can turn you into dreadfully uncomfortable shapes. Now tell me why you came with the postman!’ ‘The postman?’ said Rover. ‘Yes, Mew, the old sand-sorcerer’s postman, of course,’ said the moon-dog. Rover had hardly finished telling the tale of his adventures when they heard the Man whistling. Up they shot to the roof. There the old man was sitting with his legs dangling over the ledge, throwing envelopes away as fast as he opened the letters. The wind took them whirling off into the sky, and Mew flew after them and caught them and put them back into a little bag. ‘I’ve just been reading about you, Roverandom, my dog,’ he said. ‘(Roverandom I call you, and Roverandom you’ll have to be; can’t have two Rovers about here.) And I quite agree with my friend Samathos (I’m not going to put in any ridiculous P to please him) that you had better stop here for a little while. I have also got a letter from Artaxerxes, if you know who that is, and even if you don’t, telling me to send you straight back. He seems mighty annoyed with you for running away, and with Samathos for helping you. But we won’t bother about him; and neither need you, as long as you stay here. ‘Now fly off and amuse yourself. Don’t worry the moonbeams, and don’t kill my white rabbits, and come home when you are hungry! The window on the roof is usually open. Good-bye!’ He vanished immediately into thin air; and anybody who has never been there will tell you how extremely thin the moon-air is. ‘Well, good-bye, Roverandom!’ said Mew. ‘I hope you enjoy making trouble among the wizards. Farewell for the present. Don’t kill the white rabbits, and all will yet be well, and you will get home safe—whether you want to or not.’ Then Mew flew off at such a pace that before you could say ‘whizz!’ he was a dot in the sky, and then had vanished. Rover was now not only turned into toy-size, but his name had been altered, and he was left all alone on the moon—all alone except for the Man-in-the-Moon and his dog. Roverandom—as we had better call him too, for the present, to avoid confusion—didn’t mind. His new wings were great fun, and the moon turned out to be a remarkably interesting place, so that he forgot to ponder any more why Psamathos had sent him there. It was a long time before he found out. In the meanwhile he had all sorts of adventures, by himself and with the moon-Rover. He didn’t often fly about in the air far from the tower; for in the moon, and especially on the white side, the insects are very large and fierce, and often so pale and so transparent and so silent that you hardly hear or see them coming. The moonbeams only shine and flutter, and Roverandom was not frightened of them; the big white dragon-moths with fiery eyes were much more alarming; and there were sword-flies, and glass-beetles with jaws like steel-traps, and pale unicornets with stings like spears, and fifty-seven varieties of spiders ready to eat anything they could catch. And worse than the insects were the shadowbats. Roverandom did what the birds do on that side of the moon: he flew very little except near at home, or in open spaces with a good view all round, and far from insect hiding-places; and he walked about very quietly, especially in the woods. Most things there went about very quietly, and the birds seldom even twittered. What sounds there were, were made chiefly by the plants. The flowers—the whitebells, the fairbells and the silverbells, the tinklebells and the ringaroses; the rhymeroyals and the pennywhistles, the tintrumpets and the creamhorns (a very pale cream), and many others with untranslatable names—made tunes all day long. And the feather-grasses and the ferns—fairy-fiddlestrings, polyphonies, and brasstongues, and the cracken in the woods—and all the reeds by the milk-white ponds, they kept up the music, softly, even in the night. In fact there was always a faint thin music going on. But the birds were silent; and very tiny most of them were, hopping about in the grey grass beneath the trees, dodging the flies and the swooping flutterbies; and many of them had lost their wings or forgotten how to use them. Roverandom used to startle them in their little ground-nests, as he stalked quietly through the pale grass, hunting the little white mice, or snuffing after grey squirrels on the edges of the woods. The woods were filled with silverbells all ringing softly together when he first saw them. The tall black trunks stood straight up, high as churches, out of the silver carpet, and they were roofed with pale blue leaves that never fell; so that not even the longest telescope on earth has ever seen those tall trunks or the silverbells beneath them. Later in the year the trees all burst together into pale golden blossoms; and since the woods of the moon are nearly endless, no doubt that alters the look of the moon from below on the world. But you must not imagine that all of Roverandom’s time was spent creeping about like that. After all, the dogs knew that the Man’s eye was on them, and they did a good many adventurous things and had a great deal of fun. Sometimes they wandered off together for miles and miles, and forgot to go back to the tower for days. Once or twice they went up into the mountains far away, till looking back they could see the moon-tower only as a shining needle in the distance; and they sat on the white rocks and watched the tiny sheep (no bigger than the Man-in-the-Moon’s Rover) wandering in herds over the hillsides. Every sheep carried a golden bell, and every bell rang each time each sheep moved a foot forward to get a fresh mouthful of grey grass; and all the bells rang in tune, and all the sheep shone like snow, and no one ever worried them. The Rovers were much too well brought-up (and afraid of the Man) to do so, and there were no other dogs in all the moon, nor cows, nor horses, nor lions, nor tigers, nor wolves; in fact nothing larger on four feet than rabbits and squirrels (and toy-sized at that), except just occasionally to be seen standing solemnly in thought an enormous white elephant almost as big as a donkey. I haven’t mentioned the dragons, because they don’t come into the story just yet, and anyway they lived a very long way off, far from the tower, being all very afraid of the Man-in-the-Moon, except one (and even he was half-afraid). Whenever the dogs did go back to the tower and fly in at the window, they always found their dinner just ready, as if they had arranged the time; but they seldom saw or heard the Man about. He had a workshop down in the cellars, and clouds of white steam and grey mist used to come up the stairs and float away out of the upper windows. ‘What does he do with himself all day?’ said Roverandom to Rover. ‘Do?’ said the moon-dog. ‘O he’s always pretty busy—though he seems busier than I have seen him for a long time, since you arrived. Making dreams, I believe.’ ‘What does he make dreams for?’ ‘O! for the other side of the moon. No one has dreams on this side; the dreamers all go round to the back.’ Roverandom sat down and scratched; he didn’t think the explanation explained. The moon-dog would not tell him any more all the same: and if you ask me, I don’t think he knew much about it. However, something happened soon after that, that put such questions out of Roverandom’s mind altogether for a while. The two dogs went and had a very exciting adventure, much too exciting while it lasted; but that was their own fault. They went away for several days, much farther than they had ever been before since Roverandom came; and they did not bother to think where they were going. In fact they went and lost themselves, and mistaking the way got farther and farther from the tower when they thought they were getting back. The moon-dog said he had roamed all over the white side of the moon and knew it all by heart (he was very apt to exaggerate), but eventually he had to admit that the country seemed a bit strange. ‘I’m afraid it’s a very long time since I came here,’ he said, ‘and I’m beginning to forget it a bit.’ As a matter of fact he had never been there before at all. Unawares they had wandered too near to the shadowy edge of the dark side, where all sorts of half-forgotten things linger, and paths and memories get confused. Just when they felt sure that at last they were on the right way home, they were surprised to find some tall mountains rising before them, silent, bare, and ominous; and these the moon-dog made no pretence of ever having seen before. They were grey, not white, and looked as if they were made of old cold ashes; and long dim valleys lay among them, without a sign of life. Then it began to snow. It often does snow in the moon, but the snow (as they call it) is usually nice and warm, and quite dry, and turns into fine white sand and all blows away. This was more like our sort. It was wet and cold; and it was dirty. ‘It makes me homesick,’ said the moon-dog. ‘It’s just like the stuff that used to fall in the town where I was a puppy—on the world, you know. O! the chimneys there, tall as moon-trees; and the black smoke; and the red furnace fires! I get a bit tired of white at times. It’s very difficult to get really dirty on the moon.’ This rather shows up the moon-dog’s low tastes; and as there were no such towns on the world hundreds of years ago, you can also see that he had exaggerated the length of time since he fell over the edge a very great deal too. However, just at that moment, a specially large and dirty flake hit him in the left eye, and he changed his mind. ‘I think this stuff has missed its way and fallen off the beastly old world,’ he said. ‘Rat and rabbit it! And we seem to have missed our way altogether, too. Bat and bother it! Let’s find a hole to creep in!’ It took some time to find a hole of any sort, and they were very wet and cold before they did: in fact so miserable that they took the first shelter they came to, and no precautions—which are the first things you ought to take in unfamiliar places on the edge of the moon. The shelter they crawled into was not a hole but a cave, and a very large cave too; it was dark but it was dry. ‘This is nice and warm,’ said the moon-dog, and he closed his eyes and went off into a doze almost immediately. ‘Ow!’ he yelped not long afterwards, waking straight up dog-fashion out of a comfortable dream. ‘Much too warm!’ He jumped up. He could hear little Roverandom barking away further inside the cave, and when he went to see what was up, he saw a trickle of fire creeping along the floor towards them. He did not feel homesick for red furnaces just then; and he seized little Roverandom by the back of his little neck, and bolted out of the cave as quick as lightning, and flew up to a peak of stone just outside. There the two sat in the snow shivering and watching; which was very silly of them. They ought to have flown off home, or anywhere, faster than the wind. The moon-dog did not know everything about the moon, as you see, or he would have known that this was the lair of the Great White Dragon—the one that was only half-afraid of the Man (and scarcely that when he was angry). The Man himself was a bit bothered by this dragon. ‘That dratted creature’ was what he called him, when he referred to him at all. All the white dragons originally come from the moon, as you probably know; but this one had been to the world and back, so he had learned a thing or two. He fought the Red Dragon in Caerdragon in Merlin’s time, as you will find in all the more up-to-date history books; after which the other dragon was Very Red. Later he did lots more damage in the Three Islands, and went to live on the top of Snowdon for a time. People did not bother to climb up while that lasted—except for one man, and the dragon caught him drinking out of a bottle. That man finished in such a hurry that he left the bottle on the top, and his example has been followed by many people since. A long time since, and not until the dragon had flown off to Gwynfa, some time after King Arthur’s disappearance, at a time when dragons’ tails were esteemed a great delicacy by the Saxon Kings. Gwynfa is not so far from the world’s edge, and it is an easy flight from there to the moon for a dragon so titanic and so enormously bad as this one had become. He now lived on the moon’s edge; for he was not quite sure how much the Man-in-the-Moon could do with his spells and contrivances. All the same, he actually dared at times to interfere with the colour-scheme. Sometimes he let real red and green flames out of his cave when he was having a dragon-feast or was in a tantrum; and clouds of smoke were frequent. Once or twice he had been known to turn the whole moon red, or put it out altogether. On such uncomfortable occasions the Man-in-the-Moon shut himself up (and his dog), and all he said was ‘That dratted creature again’. He never explained what creature, or where he lived; he simply went down into the cellars, uncorked his best spells, and got things cleared up as quick as possible. Now you know all about it; and if the dogs had known half as much they would never have stopped there. But stop they did, at least as long as it has taken me to explain about the White Dragon, and by that time the whole of him, white with green eyes, and leaking green fire at every joint, and snorting black smoke like a steamer, had come out of the cave. Then he let off the most awful bellow. The mountains rocked and echoed, and the snow dried up; avalanches tumbled down, and waterfalls stood still. That dragon had wings, like the sails that ships had when they still were ships and not steam-engines; and he did not disdain to kill anything from a mouse to an emperor’s daughter. He meant to kill those two dogs; and he told them so several times before he got up into the air. That was his mistake. They both whizzed off their rock like rockets, and went away down the wind at a pace that Mew himself would have been proud of. The dragon came after them, flapping like a flapdragon and snapping like a snapdragon, knocking the tops of mountains off, and setting all the sheep-bells ringing like a town on fire. (Now you see why they all had bells.) Very luckily, down the wind was the right direction. Also a most stupendous rocket went up from the tower as soon as the bells got frantic. It could be seen all over the moon like a golden umbrella bursting into a thousand silver tassels, and it caused an unpredicted fall of shooting stars on the world not long after. If it was a guide to the poor dogs, it was also meant as a warning to the dragon; but he had got far too much steam up to take any notice. So the chase went fiercely on. If you have ever seen a bird chasing a butterfly, and if you can imagine a more than gigantic bird chasing two perfectly insignificant butterflies among white mountains, then you can just begin to imagine the twistings, dodgings, hairbreadth escapes, and the wild zigzag rush of that flight home. More than once, before they got even half way, Roverandom’s tail was singed by the dragon’s breath. What was the Man-in-the-Moon doing? Well, he let off a truly magnificent rocket; and after that he said ‘Drat that creature!’ and also ‘Drat those puppies! They will bring on an eclipse before it is due!’ And then he went down into the cellars and uncorked a dark, black spell that looked like jellified tar and honey (and smelt like the Fifth of November and cabbage boiling over). At that very moment the dragon swooped up right above the tower and lifted a huge claw to bat Roverandom—bat him right off into the blank nowhere. But he never did. The Man-in-the-Moon shot the spell up out of a lower window, and hit the dragon splosh on the stomach (where all dragons are peculiarly tender), and knocked him crank-sideways. He lost all his wits, and flew bang into a mountain before he could get his steering right; and it was difficult to say which was most damaged, his nose or the mountain—both were out of shape. So the two dogs fell in through the top window, and never got back their breath for a week; and the dragon slowly made his lopsided way home, where he rubbed his nose for months. The next eclipse was a failure, for the dragon was too busy licking his tummy to attend to it. And he never got the black sploshes off where the spell hit him. I am afraid they will last for ever. They call him the Mottled Monster now. 3 (#ulink_a0060d66-d877-5db0-b5cc-96ffe6d2fd12) The next day the Man-in-the-Moon looked at Roverandom and said: ‘That was a narrow squeak! You seem to have explored the white side pretty well for a young dog. I think, when you have got your breath back, it will be time for you to visit the other side.’ ‘Can I come too?’ asked the moon-dog. ‘It wouldn’t be good for you,’ said the Man, ‘and I don’t advise you to. You might see things that would make you more homesick than fire and chimney-stacks, and that would turn out as bad as dragons.’ The moon-dog did not blush, because he could not; and he did not say anything, but he went and sat down in a corner and wondered how much the old man knew of everything that went on, and everything that was said, too. Also for a little while he wondered what exactly the old man meant; but that did not bother him long—he was a lighthearted fellow. As for Roverandom, when he had got his breath back, a few days later, the Man-in-the-Moon came and whistled for him. Then down and down they went together; down the stairs, and into the cellars which were cut inside the cliff and had small windows looking out of the side of the precipice over the wide places of the moon; and then down secret steps that seemed to lead right under the mountains, until after a long while they came into a completely dark place, and stopped, though Roverandom’s head went on turning giddily after the miles of corkscrewing downwards. In complete darkness the Man-in-the-Moon shone palely all by himself like a glow-worm, and that was all the light they had. It was quite enough, though, to see the door by—a big door in the floor. This the old man pulled up, and as it was lifted darkness seemed to well up out of the opening like a fog, so that Roverandom could no longer see even the faint glimmering of the Man through it. ‘Down you go, good dog!’ said his voice out of the blackness. And you won’t be surprised to be told that Roverandom was not a good dog, and would not budge. He backed into the furthest corner of the little room, and set his ears back. He was more frightened of that hole than of the old man. But it was not any good. The Man-in-the-Moon simply picked him up and dropped him plump into the black hole; and as he fell and fell into nothing, Roverandom heard him calling out, already far above him: ‘Drop straight, and then fly on with the wind! Wait for me at the other end!’ That ought to have comforted him, but it did not. Roverandom always said afterwards that he did not think even falling over the world’s edge could be worse; and that anyway it was the nastiest part of all his adventures, and still made him feel as if he had lost his tummy whenever he thought of it. You can tell he is still thinking of it when he cries out and twitches in his sleep on the hearthrug. All the same, it came to an end. After a long while his falling gradually slowed down, until at last he almost stopped. The rest of the way he had to use his wings; and it was like flying up, up, through a big chimney—luckily with a strong draught helping him along. Jolly glad he was when he got at last to the top. There he lay panting at the edge of the hole at the other end, waiting obediently, and anxiously, for the Man-in-the-Moon. It was a good while before he appeared, and Roverandom had time to see that he was at the bottom of a deep dark valley, ringed round with low dark hills. Black clouds seemed to rest upon their tops; and beyond the clouds was just one star. Suddenly the little dog felt very sleepy; a bird in some gloomy bushes nearby was singing a drowsy song that seemed strange and wonderful to him after the little dumb birds of the other side to which he had got used. He shut his eyes. ‘Wake up, you doglet!’ called a voice; and Roverandom bounced up just in time to see the Man climbing out of the hole on a silver rope which a large grey spider (much larger than himself) was fastening to a tree close by. The Man climbed out. ‘Thank you!’ he said to the spider. ‘And now be off!’ And off the spider went, and was glad to go. There are black spiders on the dark side, poisonous ones, if not as large as the monsters of the white side. They hate anything white or pale or light, and especially pale spiders, which they hate like rich relations that pay infrequent visits. The grey spider dropped back down the rope into the hole, and a black spider dropped out of the tree at the same moment. ‘Now then!’ cried the old man to the black spider. ‘Come back there! That is my private door, and don’t you forget it. Just make me a nice hammock from those two yew-trees, and I’ll forgive you. ‘It’s a longish climb down and up through the middle of the moon,’ he said to Roverandom, ‘and I think a little rest before they arrive would do me good. They are very nice, but they need a good deal of energy. Of course I could take to wings, only I wear ‘em out so fast; also it would mean widening the hole, as my size in wings would hardly fit, and I’m a beautiful rope-climber. ‘Now what do you think of this side?’ the Man continued. ‘Dark with a pale sky, while tother was pale with a dark sky, eh? Quite a change, only there is not much more real colour here than there, not what I call real colour, loud and lots of it together. There are a few gleams under the trees, if you look, fireflies and diamond-beetles and ruby-moths, and such like. Too tiny, though; too tiny like all the bright things on this side. And they live a terrible life of it, what with owls like eagles and as black as coal, and crows like vultures and as numerous as sparrows, and all these black spiders. It’s the black-velvet bob-owlers, flying all together in clouds, that I personally like least. They won’t even get out of my way; I hardly dare give out a glimmer, or they all get tangled in my beard. ‘Still this side has its charms, young dog; and one of them is that nobody and no-doggy on earth has ever seen it before—when they were awake—except you!’ Then the Man suddenly jumped into the hammock, which the black spider had been spinning for him while he was talking, and went fast asleep in a twinkling. Roverandom sat alone and watched him, with a wary eye for black spiders too. Little gleams of firelight, red, green, gold, and blue, flashed and shifted here and there beneath the dark windless trees. The sky was pale with strange stars above the floating wisps of velvet cloud. Thousands of nightingales seemed to be singing in some other valley, faint beyond the nearer hills. And then Roverandom heard the sound of children’s voices, or the echo of the echo of their voices coming down a sudden soft-stirring breeze. He sat up and barked the loudest bark he had barked since this tale began. ‘Bless me!’ cried the Man-in-the-Moon, jumping up wide awake, straight out of the hammock onto the grass, and nearly onto Roverandom’s tail. ‘Have they arrived already?’ ‘Who?’ asked Roverandom. ‘Well, if you didn’t hear them, what did you yap for?’ said the old man. ‘Come on! This is the way.’ They went down a long grey path, marked at the sides with faintly luminous stones, and overhung with bushes. It led on and on, and the bushes became pine-trees, and the air was filled with the smell of pine-trees at night. Then the path began to climb; and after a time they came to the top of the lowest point in the ring of hills that had shut them in. Then Roverandom looked down into the next valley; and all the nightingales stopped singing, like turning off a tap, and children’s voices floated up clear and sweet, for they were singing a fair song with many voices blended to one music. Down the hillside raced and jumped the old man and the dog together. My word! the Man-in-the-Moon could leap from rock to rock! ‘Come on, come on!’ he called. ‘I may be a bearded billy-goat, a wild or garden goat, but you can’t catch me!’ And Roverandom had to fly to keep up with him. And so they came suddenly to a sheer precipice, not very high, but dark and polished like jet. Looking over, Roverandom saw below a garden in twilight; and as he looked it changed to the soft glow of an afternoon sun, though he could not see where the soft light came from that lit all that sheltered place and never strayed beyond. Grey fountains were there, and long lawns; and children everywhere, dancing sleepily, walking dreamily, and talking to themselves. Some stirred as if just waking from deep sleep; some were already running wide awake and laughing: they were digging, gathering flowers, building tents and houses, chasing butterflies, kicking balls, climbing trees; and all were singing. ‘Where do they all come from?’ asked Roverandom, bewildered and delighted. ‘From their homes and beds, of course,’ said the Man. ‘And how do they get here?’ ‘That I ain’t going to tell you at all; and you’ll never find out. You are lucky, and so is anyone, to get here by any way at all; but the children don’t come by your way, at any rate. Some come often, and some come seldom, and I make most of the dream. Some of it they bring with them, of course, like lunch to school, and some (I am sorry to say) the spiders make—but not in this valley, and not if I catch ‘em at it. And now let’s go and join the party!’ The cliff of jet sloped steeply down. It was much too smooth even for a spider to climb—not that any spider ever dared try; for he might slide down, but neither he nor anything else could get up again; and in that garden were hidden sentinels, not to mention the Man-in-the-Moon, without whom no party was complete, for they were his own parties. And he now slid bang into the middle of this one. He just sat down and tobogganed, swish! right into the midst of a crowd of children with Roverandom rolling on top of him, quite forgetting that he could fly. Or could have flown—for when he picked himself up at the bottom he found that his wings had gone. ‘What’s that little dog doing?’ said a small boy to the Man. Roverandom was going round and round like a top, trying to look at his own back. ‘Looking for his wings, my boy. He thinks he has rubbed them off on the toboggan-run, but they’re in my pocket. No wings allowed down here, people don’t get out of here without leave, do they?’ ‘No! Daddy-long-beard!’ said about twenty children all at once, and one boy caught hold of the old man’s beard and climbed up it onto his shoulder. Roverandom expected to see him turned into a moth or a piece of indiarubber, or something, on the spot. But ‘My word! you’re a bit of a rope-climber, my boy!’ said the Man. ‘I’ll have to give you lessons.’ And he tossed the boy right up into the air. He did not fall down again; not a bit of it. He stuck up in the air; and the Man-in-the-Moon threw him a silver rope that he slipped out of his pocket. ‘Just climb down that quick!’ he said; and down the boy slithered into the old man’s arms, where he was well tickled. ‘You’ll wake up, if you laugh so loud,’ said the Man, and he put him down on the grass and walked off into the crowd. Roverandom was left to amuse himself, and he was just making for a beautiful yellow ball (‘Just like my own at home,’ he thought) when he heard a voice he knew. ‘There’s my little dog!’ it said. ‘There’s my little dog! I always thought he was real. Fancy him being here, when I’ve looked and looked all over the sands and called and whistled every day for him!’ As soon as Roverandom heard that voice, he sat up and begged. ‘My little begging dog!’ said little boy Two (of course); and he ran up and patted him. ‘Where have you been to?’ But all Roverandom could say at first was: ‘Can you hear what I’m saying?’ ‘Of course I can,’ said little boy Two. ‘But when mummy brought you home before, you wouldn’t listen to me at all, although I did my best bark-talk for you. And I don’t believe you tried to say much to me either; you seemed to be thinking of something else.’ Roverandom said how sorry he was, and he told the little boy how he had fallen out of his pocket; and all about Psamathos, and Mew, and many of the adventures he had had since he was lost. That is how the little boy and his brothers got to know about the odd fellow in the sand, and learned a lot of other useful things they might otherwise have missed. Little boy Two thought that ‘Roverandom’ was a splendid name. ‘I shall call you that too,’ he said. ‘And don’t forget that you still belong to me!’ Then they had a game with the ball, and a game of hide-and-seek, and a run and a long walk, and a rabbit-hunt (with no result, of course, except excitement: the rabbits were exceedingly shadowy), and much splashing in the ponds, and all kinds of other things one after another for endless ages; and they got to like one another better and better. The little boy was rolling over and over on the dewy grass, in a very bed-timish light (but no one seems to mind wet grass or bed-time in that place), and the little dog was rolling over and over with him, and standing on his head like no dog on earth ever has done since Mother Hubbard’s dead dog did it; and the little boy was laughing till he—vanished quite suddenly and left Roverandom all alone on the lawn! ‘He’s waked up, that’s all,’ said the Man-in-the-Moon, who suddenly appeared. ‘Gone home, and about time too. Why! it’s only a quarter of an hour before his breakfast time. He’ll miss his walk on the sands this morning. Well, well! I am afraid it’s our time to go, too.’ So, very reluctantly, Roverandom went back to the white side with the old man. They walked all the way, and it took a very long time; and Roverandom did not enjoy it as much as he ought to have done. For they saw all kinds of queer things, and had many adventures—perfectly safe, of course, with the Man-in-the-Moon close at hand. That was just as well, as there were lots of nasty creepy things in the bogs that would otherwise have grabbed the little dog quick. The dark side was as wet as the white side was dry, and full of the most extraordinary plants and creatures, which I would tell you about, if Roverandom had taken any particular notice of them. But he did not; he was thinking of the garden and the little boy. At last they came to the grey edge, and they looked past the cinder valleys where many of the dragons lived, through a gap in the mountains to the great white plain and the shining cliffs. They saw the world rise, a pale green and gold moon, huge and round above the shoulders of the Lunar Mountains; and Roverandom thought: ‘That is where my little boy lives!’ It seemed a terrible and enormous way away. ‘Do dreams come true?’ he asked. ‘Some of mine do,’ said the old man. ‘Some, but not all; and seldom any of them straight away, or quite like they were in dreaming them. But why do you want to know about dreams?’ ‘I was only wondering,’ said Roverandom. ‘About that little boy,’ said the Man. ‘I thought so.’ He then pulled a telescope out of his pocket. It opened out to an enormous length. ‘A little look will do you no harm, I think,’ he said. Roverandom looked through it—when he had managed at last to shut one eye and keep the other open. He saw the world plainly. First he saw the far end of the moon’s path falling straight onto the sea; and he thought he saw, faint and rather thin, long lines of small people sailing swiftly down it, but he could not be quite sure. The moonlight quickly faded. Sunlight began to grow; and suddenly there was the cove of the sandsorcerer (but no sign of Psamathos—Psamathos did not allow himself to be peeped at); and after a while the two little boys walked into the round picture, going hand in hand along the shore. ‘Looking for shells or for me?’ wondered the dog. Very soon the picture shifted and he saw the little boys’ father’s white house on the cliff, with its garden running down to the sea; and at the gate he saw—an unpleasant surprise—the old wizard sitting on a stone smoking his pipe, as if he had nothing to do but watch there for ever, with his old green hat on the back of his head and his waistcoat unbuttoned. ‘What’s old Arta-what-d’you-call-him doing at the gate?’ Roverandom asked. ‘I should have thought he had forgotten about me long ago. And aren’t his holidays over yet?’ ‘No, he’s waiting for you, my doglet. He hasn’t forgotten. If you turn up there just now, real or toy, he’ll put some new bewitchment on you pretty quick. It isn’t that he minds so much about his trousers—they were soon mended—but he is very annoyed with Samathos for interfering; and Samathos hasn’t finished making his arrangements yet for dealing with him.’ Just then Roverandom saw Artaxerxes’ hat blown off by the wind, and off the wizard ran after it; and plain to see, he had a wonderful patch on his trousers, an orangecoloured patch with black spots. ‘I should have thought that a wizard could have managed to patch his trousers better than that!’ said Roverandom. ‘But he thinks he has managed it beautifully!’ said the old man. ‘He bewitched a piece off somebody’s window-curtains; they got fire insurance, and he got a splash of colour, and both are satisfied. Still, you are right. He is failing, I do believe. Sad after all these centuries to see a man going off his magic; but lucky for you, perhaps.’ Then the Man-in-the-Moon closed the telescope with a snap, and off they went again. ‘Here are your wings again,’ he said when they had reached the tower. ‘Now fly off and amuse yourself! Don’t worry the moonbeams, don’t kill my white rabbits, and come back when you feel hungry!—or have any other sort of pain.’ Roverandom at once flew off to find the moon-dog and tell him about the other side; but the other dog was a bit jealous of a visitor being allowed to see things which he could not, and he pretended not to be interested. ‘Sounds a nasty part altogether,’ he growled. ‘I’m sure I don’t want to see it. I suppose you’ll be bored with the white side now, and only having me to go about with, instead of all your two-legged friends. It’s a pity the Persian wizard is such a sticker, and you can’t go home.’ Roverandom was rather hurt; and he told the moondog over and over again that he was jolly glad to be back at the tower, and would never be bored with the white side. They soon settled down to be good friends again, and did lots and lots of things together; and yet what the moon-dog had said in bad temper turned out to be true. It was not Roverandom’s fault, and he did his best not to show it, but somehow none of the adventures or explorations seemed so exciting to him as they had done before, and he was always thinking of the fun he had in the garden with little boy Two. They visited the valley of the white moon-gnomes (moonums, for short) that ride about on rabbits, and make pancakes out of snowflakes, and grow little golden appletrees no bigger than buttercups in their neat orchards. They put broken glass and tintacks outside the lairs of some of the lesser dragons (while they were asleep), and lay awake till the middle of the night to hear them roar with rage—dragons often have tender tummies, as I have told you already, and they go out for a drink at twelve midnight every night of their lives, not to speak of between-whiles. Sometimes the dogs even dared to go spider-baiting—biting webs and setting free the moonbeams, and flying off just in time, while the spiders threw lassoes at them from the hill-tops. But all the while Roverandom was looking out for Postman Mew and News of the World (mostly murders and football-matches, as even a little dog knows; but there is sometimes something better in an odd corner). He missed Mew’s next visit, as he was away on a ramble, but the old man was still reading the letters and news when he got back (and he seemed in a mighty good humour too, sitting on the roof with his feet dangling over the edge, puffing at an enormous white clay-pipe, sending out clouds of smoke like a railway-engine, and smiling right round his round old face). Roverandom felt he could bear it no longer. ‘I’ve got a pain in my inside,’ he said. ‘I want to go back to the little boy, so that his dream can come true.’ The old man put down his letter (it was about Artaxerxes, and very amusing), and took the pipe out of his mouth. ‘Must you go? Can’t you stay? This is so sudden! So pleased to have met you! You must drop in again one day. Deelighted to see you any time!’ he said all in a breath. ‘Very well!’ he went on more sensibly. ‘Artaxerxes is arranged for.’ ‘How??’ asked Roverandom, really excited again. ‘He has married a mermaid and gone to live at the bottom of the Deep Blue Sea.’ ‘I hope she will patch his trousers better! A green seaweed patch would go well with his green hat.’ ‘My dear dog! He was married in a complete new suit of seaweed green with pink coral buttons and epaulettes of sea-anemones; and they burnt his old hat on the beach! Samathos arranged it all. O! Samathos is very deep, as deep as the Deep Blue Sea, and I expect he means to settle lots of things to his liking this way, lots more than just you, my dog. ‘I wonder how it will turn out! Artaxerxes is getting into his twentieth or twenty-first childhood at the moment, it seems to me; and he makes a lot of fuss about very little things. Most obstinate he is, to be sure. He used to be a pretty good magician, but he is becoming badtempered and a thorough nuisance. When he came and dug up old Samathos with a wooden spade in the middle of the afternoon, and pulled him out of his hole by the ears, the Samathist thought things had gone too far, and I don’t wonder. “Such a lot of disturbance, just at my best time for sleeping, and all about a wretched little dog”: that is what he writes to me, and you needn’t blush. ‘So he invited Artaxerxes to a mermaid-party, when both their tempers had cooled down a bit, and that is how it all happened. They took Artaxerxes out for a moonlight swim, and he will never go back to Persia, or even Pershore. He fell in love with the rich mer-king’s elderly but lovely daughter, and they were married the next night. ‘It is probably just as well. There has not been a resident Magician in the Ocean for some time. Proteus, Poseidon, Triton, Neptune, and all that lot, they’ve all turned into minnows or mussels long ago, and in any case they never knew or bothered much about things outside the Mediterranean—they were too fond of sardines. Old Niord retired a long while ago, too. He was of course only able to give half his attention to business after his silly marriage with the giantess—you remember she fell in love with him because he had clean feet (so convenient in the home), and fell out of love with him, when it was too late, because they were wet. He’s on his last legs now, I hear; quite doddery, poor old dear. Oil-fuel has given him a dreadful cough, and he has retired to the coast of Iceland for a little sunshine. ‘There was the Old Man of the Sea, of course. He was my cousin, and I’m not proud of it. He was a bit of a burden—wouldn’t walk, and always wanted to be carried, as I dare say you have heard. That was the death of him. He sat on a floating mine (if you know what I mean) a year or two ago, right on one of the buttons! Not even my magic could do anything with that case. It was worse than the one of Humpty Dumpty.’ ‘What about Britannia?’ asked Roverandom, who after all was an English dog; though really he was a bit bored with all this, and wanted to hear more about his own wizard. ‘I thought Britannia ruled the waves.’ ‘She never really gets her feet wet. She prefers patting lions on the beach, and sitting on a penny with an eelfork in her hand—and in any case there is more to manage in the sea than waves. Now they have got Artaxerxes, and I hope he will be of use. He’ll spend the first few years trying to grow plums on polyps, I expect, if they let him; and that’ll be easier than keeping the merfolk in order. ‘Well, well, well! Where was I? Of course—you can go back now, if you want to. In fact, not to be too polite, it’s time you went back as soon as possible. Old Samathos is your first call—and don’t follow my bad example and forget your Ps when you meet!’ Mew turned up again the very next day, with an extra post—an immense number of letters for the Man-in-the-Moon, and bundles of newspapers: The Illustrated Weekly Weed, Ocean Notions, The Mer-mail, The Conch, and The Morning Splash. They all had exactly the same (exclusive) pictures of Artaxerxes’ wedding on the beach at full moon, with Mr Psamathos Psamathides, the wellknown financier (a mere title of respect), grinning in the background. But they were nicer than our pictures, for they were at least coloured; and the mermaid really did look beautiful (her tail was in the foam). The time had come to say good-bye. The Man-in-the-Moon beamed on Roverandom; and the moon-dog tried to look unconcerned. Roverandom himself had rather a drooping tail, but all he said was: ‘Good-bye, pup! Take care of yourself, don’t worry the moonbeams, don’t kill the white rabbits, and don’t eat too much supper!’ ‘Pup yourself!’ said the moon-Rover. ‘And stop eating wizards’ trousers!’ That was all; and yet, I believe, he was always worrying the old Man-in-the-Moon to send him on a holiday to visit Roverandom, and that he has been allowed to go several times since then. After that Roverandom went back with Mew, and the Man went back into his cellars, and the moon-dog sat on the roof and watched them out of sight. 4 (#ulink_34f3616c-cf74-5acd-9f6d-606b6d8e23f0) There was a cold wind blowing off the North Star when they got near the world’s edge, and the chilly spray of the waterfalls splashed over them. It had been stiffer going on the way back, for old Psamathos’ magic was not in such a hurry just then; and they were glad to rest on the Isle of Dogs. But as Roverandom was still his enchanted size, he did not enjoy himself much there. The other dogs were too large and noisy, and too scornful; and the bones of the bone-trees were too large and bony. It was dawn of the day after the day after tomorrow when at last they sighted the black cliffs of Mew’s home; and the sun was warm on their backs, and the tips of the sand-hillocks were already pale and dry, by the time they alighted in the cove of Psamathos. Mew gave a little cry, and tapped with his beak on a bit of wood lying on the ground. The bit of wood immediately grew straight up into the air, and turned into Psamathos’ left ear, and was joined by another ear, and quickly followed by the rest of the sorcerer’s ugly head and neck. ‘What do you two want at this time of day?’ growled Psamathos. ‘It’s my favourite time for sleep.’ ‘We’re back!’ said the seagull. ‘And you’ve allowed yourself to be carried back on his back, I see,’ Psamathos said, turning to the little dog. ‘After dragon-hunting I should have thought you would have found a little flight back home quite easy.’ ‘But please, sir,’ said Roverandom, ‘I left my wings behind; they didn’t really belong to me. And I should rather like to be an ordinary dog again.’ ‘O! all right. Still I hope you have enjoyed yourself as “Roverandom”. You ought to have done. Now you can be just Rover again, if you really want to be; and you can go home and play with your yellow ball, and sleep on armchairs when you get the chance, and sit on laps, and be a respectable little yap-dog again.’ ‘What about the little boy?’ said Rover. ‘But you ran away from him, silly, all the way to the moon, I thought!’ said Psamathos, pretending to be annoyed and surprised, but giving a merry twinkle out of one knowing eye. ‘Home I said, and home I meant. Don’t splutter and argue!’ Poor Rover was spluttering because he was trying to get in a very polite ‘Mr P-samathos’. Eventually he did. ‘P-P-Please, Mr P-P-P-samathos,’ he said, most touchingly. ‘P-Please p-pardon me, but I have met him again; and I shouldn’t run away now; and really I belong to him, don’t I? So I ought to go back to him.’ ‘Stuff and nonsense! Of course you don’t and oughtn’t! You belong to the old lady that bought you first, and back you’ll have to go to her. You can’t buy stolen goods, or bewitched ones either, as you would know, if you knew the Law, you silly little dog. Little boy Two’s mother wasted sixpence on you, and that’s an end of it. And what’s in dream-meetings anyway?’ wound up Psamathos with a huge wink. ‘I thought some of the Man-in-the-Moon’s dreams came true,’ said little Rover sadly. ‘O! did you! Well that’s the Man-in-the-Moon’s affair. My business is to change you back at once into your proper size, and send you back where you belong. Artaxerxes has departed to other spheres of usefulness, so we needn’t bother about him any more. Come here!’ He took hold of Rover, and he waved his fat hand over the little dog’s head, and hey presto—there was no change at all! He did it all over again, and still there was no change. Then Psamathos got right up out of the sand, and Rover saw for the first time that he had legs like a rabbit. He stamped and ramped, and kicked sand into the air, and trampled on the seashells, and snorted like an angry pugdog; and still nothing happened at all! ‘Done by a seaweed wizard, blister and wart him!’ he swore. ‘Done by a Persian plum-picker, pot and jam him!’ he shouted, and kept on shouting till he was tired. Then he sat down. ‘Well, well!’ he said at last when he was cooler. ‘Live and learn! But Artaxerxes is most peculiar. Who could have guessed that he would remember you amidst all the excitement of his wedding, and go and waste his strongest incantation on a dog before going on his honeymoon—as if his first spell wasn’t more than any silly little puppy is worth? If it isn’t enough to split one’s skin. ‘Well! I don’t need to think out what is to be done, at any rate,’ Psamathos continued. ‘There is only one possible thing. You have got to go and find him and beg his pardon. But my word! I’ll remember this against him, till the sea is twice as salt and half as wet. Just you two go for a walk, and be back in half an hour when my temper’s better!’ Mew and Rover went along the shore and up the cliff, Mew flying slowly and Rover trotting along very sad. They stopped outside the little boys’ father’s house; and Rover even went in at the gate, and sat in a flower-bed under the boys’ window. It was still very early, but he barked and barked hopefully. The little boys were either still fast asleep or away, for nobody came to the window. Or so Rover thought. He had forgotten that things are different on the world from the back-garden of the moon, and that Artaxerxes’ bewitchment was still on his size, and the size of his bark. After a little while Mew took him mournfully back to the cove. There an altogether new surprise was waiting for him. Psamathos was talking to a whale! A very large whale, Uin the oldest of the Right Whales. He looked like a mountain to little Rover, lying with his great head in a deep pool near the water’s edge. ‘Sorry I couldn’t get anything smaller at a moment’s notice,’ said Psamathos. ‘But he is very comfortable!’ ‘Walk in!’ said the whale. ‘Good-bye! Walk in!’ said the seagull. ‘Walk in!’ said Psamathos; ‘and be quick about it! And don’t bite or scratch about inside; you might give Uin a cough, and that you would find uncomfy.’ This was almost as bad as being asked to jump into the hole in the Man-in-the-Moon’s cellar, and Rover backed away, so that Mew and Psamathos had to push him in. Push him they did, too, without a coax; and the whale’s jaws shut to with a snap. Inside it was very dark indeed, and fishy. There Rover sat and trembled; and as he sat (not daring even to scratch his own ears) he heard, or thought he heard, the swish and beating of the whale’s tail in the waters; and he felt, or thought he felt, the whale plunge deeper and downer towards the bottom of the Deep Blue Sea. But when the whale stopped and opened his mouth wide again (delighted to do so: whales prefer going about trawling with their jaws wide open and a good tide of food coming in, but Uin was a considerate animal) and Rover peeped out, it was deep, altogether immeasurably deep, but not at all blue. There was only a pale green light; and Rover walked out to find himself on a white path of sand winding through a dim and fantastic forest. ‘Straight along! You haven’t far to go,’ said Uin. Rover went straight along, as straight as the path would allow, and soon before him he saw the gate of a great palace, made it seemed of pink and white stone that shone with a pale light coming through it; and through the many windows lights of green and blue shone clear. All round the walls huge sea-trees grew, taller than the domes of the palace that swelled up vast, gleaming in the dark water. The great indiarubber trunks of the trees bent and swayed like grasses, and the shadow of their endless branches was thronged with goldfish, and silverfish, and redfish, and bluefish, and phosphorescent fish like birds. But the fishes did not sing. The mermaids sang inside the palace. How they sang! And all the sea-fairies sang in chorus, and the music floated out of the windows, hundreds of mer-folk playing on horns and pipes and conches of shell. Sea-goblins were grinning at him out of the darkness under the trees, and Rover hurried along as fast as he could—he found his steps slow and laden deep down under the water. And why didn’t he drown? I don’t know, but I suppose Psamathos Psamathides had given some thought to it (he knows much more about the sea than most people would think, even though he never sets toe in it, if he can help it), while Rover and Mew had gone for a walk, and he had sat and simmered down and thought of a new plan. Anyway Rover did not drown; but he was already wishing he was somewhere else, even in the whale’s wet inside, before he got to the door: such queer shapes and faces peered at him out of the purple bushes and the spongey thickets beside the path that he felt very unsafe indeed. At last he got to the enormous door—a golden archway fringed with coral, and a door of mother-of-pearl studded with sharks’ teeth. The knocker was a huge ring encrusted with white barnacles, and all the barnacles’ little red streamers were hanging out; but of course Rover could not reach it, nor could he have moved it anyway. So he barked, and to his surprise his bark came quite loud. The music inside stopped at the third bark, and the door opened. Who do you think opened it? Artaxerxes himself, dressed in what looked like plum-coloured velvet, and green silk trousers; and he still had a large pipe in his mouth, only it was blowing beautiful rainbow-coloured bubbles instead of tobacco-smoke; but he had no hat. ‘Hullo!’ he said. ‘So you’ve turned up! I thought you would get tired of old P-samathos’ (how he snorted over that exaggerated P) ‘before long. He can’t do quite every-thing. Well, what have you come down here for? We are just having a party, and you’re interrupting the music.’ ‘Please, Mr Arterxaxes, I mean Ertaxarxes,’ began Rover, rather flustered and trying to be very polite. ‘O never mind about getting it right! I don’t mind!’ said the wizard rather crossly. ‘Get on to the explanation, and make it short; I’ve no time for long rigmaroles.’ He had become rather full of his own importance (with strangers), since his marriage to the rich mer-king’s daughter, and his appointment to the post of Pacific and Atlantic Magician (the PAM they called him for short, when he was not present). ‘If you want to see me about anything pressing, you had better come in and wait in the hall; I might find a moment after the dance.’ He closed the door behind Rover and went off. The little dog found himself in a huge dark space under a dimly-lighted dome. There were pointed archways curtained with seaweed all round, and most of them were dark; but one of them was full of light, and music came loudly through it, music that seemed to go on and on for ever, never repeating and never stopping for a rest. Rover soon got very tired of waiting, so he walked along to the shining doorway and peeped through the curtains. He was looking into a vast ballroom with seven domes and ten thousand coral pillars, lit with purest magic and filled with warm and sparkling water. There all the golden-haired mermaids and the darkhaired sirens were dancing interwoven dances as they sang—not dancing on their tails, but wonderful swim-dancing, up and down, as well as to and fro, in the clear water. Nobody noticed the little dog’s nose peeping through the seaweed at the door, so after gazing for a while he crept inside. The floor was made of silver sand and pink butterfly shells, all open and flapping in the gently swirling water, and he had picked his way carefully among them for some way, keeping close to the wall, before a voice said suddenly above him: ‘What a sweet little dog! He’s a land-dog, not a sea-dog, I’m sure. How could he have got here—such a tiny mite!’ Rover looked up and saw a beautiful mer-lady with a large black comb in her golden hair, sitting on a ledge not far above him; her regrettable tail was dangling down, and she was mending one of Artaxerxes’ green socks. She was, of course, the new Mrs Artaxerxes (usually known as Princess Pam; she was rather popular, which was more than you could say for her husband). Artaxerxes was at the moment sitting beside her, and whether he had the time or not for long rigmaroles, he was listening to one of his wife’s. Or had been, before Rover turned up. Mrs Artaxerxes put an end to her rigmarole, and to her sockmending, as soon as she caught sight of him, and floating down picked him up and carried him back to her couch. This was really a window-seat on the first floor (an indoors window)—there are no stairs in sea-houses, and no umbrellas, and for the same reason; and there is not much difference between doors and windows, either. The mer-lady soon settled her beautiful (and rather capacious) self comfortably on her couch again, and put Rover on her lap; and immediately there was an awful growl from under the window-seat. ‘Lie down, Rover! Lie down, good dog!’ said Mrs Artaxerxes. She was not talking to our Rover, though; she was talking to a white mer-dog who came out now, in spite of what she said, growling and grumbling and beating the water with his little web-feet, and lashing it with his large flat tail, and blowing bubbles out of his sharp nose. ‘What a horrible little thing!’ the new dog said. ‘Look at his miserable tail! Look at his feet! Look at his silly coat!’ ‘Look at yourself,’ said Rover from the mer-lady’s lap, ‘and you won’t want to do it again! Who called you Rover?—a cross between a duck and a tadpole pretending to be a dog!’ From which you can see that they took rather a fancy to one another at first sight. Indeed, they soon made great friends—not quite such friends, perhaps, as Rover and the moon-dog, if only because Rover’s stay under the sea was shorter, and the deeps are not such a jolly place as the moon for little dogs, being full of dark and awful places where light has never been and never will be, because they will never be uncovered till light has all gone out. Horrible things live there, too old for imagining, too strong for spells, too vast for measurement. Artaxerxes had already found that out. The post of PAM is not the most comfortable job in the world. ‘Now swim away and amuse yourselves!’ said his wife, when the dog-argument had died down and the two animals were merely sniffing at one another. ‘Don’t worry the fire-fish, don’t chew the sea-anemones, don’t get caught in the clams; and come back to supper!’ ‘Please, I can’t swim,’ said Rover. ‘Dear me! What a nuisance!’ she said. ‘Now Pam!’—she was the only one so far that called him this to his face—‘here is something you can really do, at last!’ ‘Certainly, my dear!’ said the wizard, very anxious to oblige her, and pleased to be able to show that he really had some magic, and was not an entirely useless official (limpets they call them in sea-language). He took a little wand out of his waistcoat-pocket—it was really his fountain-pen, but it was no longer any use for writing: mer-folk use a queer sticky ink that is absolutely no use in fountain-pens—and he waved it over Rover. Artaxerxes was, in spite of what some people have said, a very good magician in his own way (or Rover would never have had these adventures)—rather a minor art, but still needing a deal of practice. Anyway after the very first wave Rover’s tail began to get fishy and his feet to get webby, and his coat to get more and more like a mackintosh. When the change was over, he soon got used to it; and he found swimming a good deal easier to pick up than flying, very nearly as pleasant, and not so tiring—unless you wanted to go down. The first thing he did, after a trial swim round the ballroom, was to bite at the other dog’s tail. In fun, of course; but fun or not, there was nearly a fight on the spot, for the mer-dog was a bit touchy-tempered. Rover only saved himself by making off as fast as possible; nimble and quick he had to be, too. My word! there was a chase, in and out of windows, and along dark passages, and round pillars, and out and up and round the domes; till at last the merdog himself was exhausted, and his bad temper too, and they sat down together on the top of the highest cupola next to the flag-pole. The mer-king’s banner, a seaweed streamer of scarlet and green, spangled with pearls, was floating from it. ‘What’s your name?’ said the mer-dog after a breathless pause. ‘Rover?’ he said. ‘That’s my name, so you can’t have it. I had it first!’ ‘How do you know?’ ‘Of course I know! I can see you are only a puppy, and you have not been down here hardly five minutes. I was enchanted ages and ages ago, hundreds of years. I expect I’m the first of all the dog Rovers. Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». 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