Jimbo: A Fantasy (Adventure Classic)
Jimbo: A Fantasy (Adventure Classic)
MISS LAKE COMES-AND GOES
Table of Contents
The conversation took place suddenly one afternoon, and no one knew anything about it except the two who took part in it: the Colonel asked the governess to try and knock the nonsense out of Jimbo's head, and the governess promised eagerly to do her very best. It was her first "place"; and by "nonsense" they both understood imagination. True enough, Jimbo's mother had given her rather different instructions as to the treatment of the boy, but she mistook the soldier's bluster for authority, and deemed it best to obey him. This was her first mistake.
In reality she was not devoid of imaginative insight; it was simply that her anxiety to prove a success permitted her better judgment to be overborne by the Colonel's boisterous manner.
The wisdom of the mother was greater than that of her husband. For the safe development of that tender and imaginative little boy of hers, she had been at great pains to engage a girl-a clergyman's daughter-who possessed sufficient sympathy with the poetic and dreamy nature to be of real help to him; for true help, she knew, can only come from true understanding. And Miss Lake was a good girl. She was entirely well-meaning-which is the beginning of well-doing, and her principal weakness lay in her judgment, which led her to obey the Colonel too literally.
"She seems most sensible," he declared to his wife.
"I think so."
"And firm and-er-wise with children."
"I hope so."
"Just the sort for young Jimbo," added the Colonel with decision.
"I trust so; she's a little young, perhaps."
"Possibly, but one can't get everything," said her husband, in his horse-and-dog voice. "A year with her should clean out that fanciful brain of his, and prepare him for school with other boys. He'll be all right once he gets to school. My dear," he added, spreading out his right hand, fingers extended, "you've made a most wise selection. I congratulate you. I'm delighted."
"I'm so glad."
"Capital, I repeat, capital. You're a clever little woman. I knew you'd find the right party, once I showed you how the land lay."
The Empty House, that stood in its neglected garden not far from the Park gates, was built on a point of land that entered wedgewise into the Colonel's estate. Though something of an eyesore, therefore, he could do nothing with it.
To the children it had always been an object of peculiar, though not unwholesome, mystery. None of them cared to pass it on a stormy day-the wind made such odd noises in its empty corridors and rooms-and they refused point-blank to go within hailing distance of it after dark. But in Jimbo's imagination it was especially haunted, and if he had ceased to reveal to the others what he knew went on under its roof, it was only because they were unable to follow him, and were inclined to greet his extravagant recitals with "Now, Jimbo, you know perfectly well you're only making up."
The House had been empty for many years; but, to the children, it had been empty since the beginning of the world, since what they called the " very beginning." They believed-well, each child believed according to his own mind and powers, but there was at least one belief they all held in common: for it was generally accepted as an article of faith that the Indians, encamped among the shrubberies on the back lawn, secretly buried their dead behind the crumbling walls of its weedy garden-the "dead" provided by the children's battles, be it understood. Wakeful ears in the night-nursery had heard strange sounds coming from that direction when the windows were open on hot summer nights; and the gardener, supreme authority on all that happened in the night (since they believed that he sat up to watch the vegetables and