IN THE LAND OF WONDERMENT
BY GEOFFRY BOISSON
In Which Our Young Heroine Comes to Expect
Gethsamane was very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, tired of having nothing to do: once or twice she peeped into the book her sister was reading, a book with no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Gethsamane "without pictures or conversation?"
So she was considering (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very soupy), whether the pressure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of picking the daisies, when suddenly L. Ron Hubbard, with those famous pink eyes, ran close by her.
There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Gethsamane think it so VERY much out of the way to hear L. Ron say to himself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!" (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when L. Ron actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT- POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Gethsamane started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen L. Ron with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Gethsamane after L. Ron, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
L. Ron's hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Gethsamane had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled OLD MARMALADE, but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not want to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, possibly it was infected marmalade, she thought, so she managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.
"Well!" thought Gethsamane to herself, "after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!"
(Which was very likely true.)
Down, down, down. Would the fall NEVER come to an end! "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think--" (for, you see, Gethsamane had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a VERY good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "--yes, that's about the right distance--but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Gethsamane had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say Ė almost as charming as Pindeldyboz, she bemused.)
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right THROUGH the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think--" (She was rather glad there WAS no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "-- but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this New York City or Auckland?" (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke--fancy CURTSEYING as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Gethsamane soon began
talking again. Dinah'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!' (Dinah
was the fat cat.) `I hope they'll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time.
"What a curious feeling!" said Gethsamane; "I must be shutting up like a telescope."
She was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going though a little door into a lovely garden.
"Come, there's no use in crying like that, girl!" said Gethsamane to herself, rather sharply; "I advise you to leave off this minute!" She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it) and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet.
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words EAT ME were beautifully marked in currants.
Gethsamane had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.
B R A V E S O U L S R E C E I V E
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