The young man, who lives in a villa on the hill in Blackpool, was devoting himself to trimming the garden again on this day. It was very good that he talked and smiled sweetly to garden trees, because he tends to give people an unsociable look. However, that straw hat was completely unacceptable. The hat was adorned with marigolds, silver Scotch and dry sliced oranges. It looked as if he was wearing a flower crown.
“Hello, Master Alfred,” I said.
I spoke to him in front of the gate.
“Even though it’s still July, it’s such hot day, isn’t it? The radio said it’s over 86 degrees today.”
Alfred stared at my face while he was pulling a swollen rose bud toward him.
“This heat makes it hard to do gardening.”
Even though I showed kindness to him, but he still just opened the gate and led me inside in glum silence.
“Not in the least, Raymond,”
Alfred shook his head. In his opinion, it was easy work compared to my visit all the way from London.
“Look. There are bluebells on both sides of the path. Those are clematises at the back there. The outdoor lamp is covered with bunches of wisterias. The lilacs smell so sweet. The apple tree and the horse chestnut tree blossoms are felled fluttering to the ground.”
Alfred spoke rapidly about the garden full of flowers. We sat on chairs in the shade of the finest apple tree. There were some white petals scattered on the round table designed with a fern pattern. Alfred had arranged the set of china for Blue Lily, some sort of homemade jam and a linen pack for teatime. He took off the strange hat, wiped the sweat from his brow, pulled on his suspenders, and took the golden pocket watch out of his inside waistcoat pocket. Surely the watch said twelve o'clock.
“Don't you feel like coming back to London?”
I asked him while I was smelling herbs seeping through the teapot.
“Alfred, you should study international diplomacy like your father. There is no reason why it's not your obligation to live in solitude just because you inherited a fortune from your uncle, Mr Tomeck. Don't you think it's a little early for you to enjoy your retirement at the age of around twenty? Surely, those who were successful like to be landowners in a countryside. It costs a lot to maintain the villa.”
“How many times have I told you about that?”
Alfred answered brusquely and poured some tea into the cups in an accustomed way.
“I never vowed to return. After all that happened to the Archduke of Austria-Este, I'm ready to serve in a war. But I don't intend to leave here.”
Then he opened up a loaf of bread wrapped in the linen, put a knife
the bread and spread clotted cream onto the pieces. into
“I believe that you have never
books under the influence of Mr Tomeck.” written enlightening
I said and Alfred shrugged his shoulders.
“Far from it, actually,” He answered.
“I'm depressed every time I see all of his books in his study. Well - yes, it's only natural that you think so. My uncle, Bradley was a person who was the picture of the last century. He even moaned and followed Her Majesty Queen Victoria to the grave, leaving his wife behind.
The main reason why Bradley liked me is because I was the good-for-nothing fourth son of noble parentage. In short, he taught me all his manners and he was able to talk about his rubbish writings to his heart's content. He was satisfied only because I was quietly listening to him talk nonsense about ‘The high ideal battle of civilization and improvement against primitive and savage society’. He had merely written things which nobody reads, regardless of that he wasn't stopped by politicians or his critics.”
Alfred drank a sip of tea and took a deep breath.
“Anyhow, why I have stayed behind here is not because of Bradley.”
Then I said, “It's Mrs Tomeck, isn't it? You take care of her garden so enthusiastically.”
Actually, her garden is well kept. Mrs Tomeck died from illness two years ago. Even Alfred was as calm as he could have been when Mr Tomeck died suddenly, but he appeared to be feeling very depressed since Mrs Tomeck died. Because it was only she that had looked after him so tenderly.
My old friend who is Alfred's father earnestly asked me to come to this villa. According to a maid, they were relieved about Alfred's initial reviving, but now he is entirely obsessed with pulling weeds up in the garden.
“Mrs Tomeck was an intelligent woman. I'm sorry for your loss,” I said.
“You are the only man that has said
with compassion about her except Bradley.” words
A faint smile touched Alfred's lips, and it ruffled the surface of the teacup. He prefers to be restrained in his spirit by nature. I suppose his inheritance can't be less one hundred thousand pounds, so he won't run through that vast legacy. Why doesn't this young person, who is now in the prime of life,
forward to the future? Dear, dear, what a grave situation! First of all, any love affair has never come up in our look he has such a buxom maid. conversation although
it by recognise ,” Alfred began. rumour
“My aunt, Sophie was considered the black sheep of my family, because she was rather an eccentric. She had a queer way of thinking. She had an incredibly short brunet and wore a dress with an excessively high waist without lace and ribbons. Local people kept away from her because they thought she was a witch - Just for that I suppose she married the completely crazy Bradley.”
“People will talk. Their hunger for gossip cannot be avoided. Don't mind it,” I said.
“Such a scene is universal,” Alfred went on.
“In Manchester, in London, no matter where, scandal is sweet like sugar. It's just human nature to judge somebody by seeing and hearing something
. And things are awful at the St. James Park during the London social dance season. What a mess - Is that a trade fair of mannequins?” secondhand
I laughed out loud. Alfred frowned at me openly.
“Your fashion, too,” he added.
“Raymond, if you didn't dress in trendy clothes, people wouldn't perceive you as a foreign trader.”
“I guess you also don't look like the present master of this villa, Alfred. You've given tailors of Savile Low trouble by ruining their well tailored suits by playing in the mud.”
Alfred was taking off his
good quality tweed jacket and waistcoat. His skin was a little visible through his shirt because of his sweat, his legs and gaiters were tangled in worn-out but . His eyes widened with shame because of my opinion, then he said in a low voice covered by his teacup, mad
“But then I have no suitable clothes for my job.” He was sheepishly staring at me.
“Listen, Raymond. You just underestimated gardening, but a garden has an ample harvest like a farmland. The right plants were put in the right places in Sophie's garden, because she engaged in cultivating plants at RHS Wisley Garden. Moreover, she had an intimate knowledge of
from the ancient Romans and Egyptians - You can see some container gardening pots over there.” herbology
“Look.” Alfred proudly pointed under the arch with honeysuckles and climbing roses. There were many ceramic pots swarmed with green.
“Sophie grew some herbs in them and used them for blended vegetable soups, marinated salmons, teas, kidney pies and things like that with them. Her blend of herbs and spices was something special. When I got hurt, she treated it with an ointment of mashed
weeds. klamath worked like magic to cure my migraines.” Feverfews
It was easy to see how Alfred inherited his blend of tea recipes from Mrs Tomeck. He was talking a lot, unusual for him, while I
the taste of the tea. savoured
“Sophie got enjoyment from gardening even on a stormy day. In the afternoon, she prepared for teatime diligently with the maids. Then she picked dills, thyme flowers, and the leaves of fennels into a full basket for dinner. In the early evening, she stitched up the torn seam of Bradley's dressing gown in the light of a lamp - her mastery of things were, so to speak, magic.
This straw hat was also made by Sophie. Well, it didn’t really look like a hat, just a bird nest at best, though. Even
said ‘After all, your parents have you carry only your big brother's hand-me-downs,’, I couldn't walk on the street with this hat with such fancy ornaments. It was better to help her gardening than wearing James Lock felt hat, though. That's why I have this at my service all the time. so she
When the flowers
the hat withered, Sophie picked new flowers in season and arranged them on the hat cheerfully.” of
it up on his head of hazel hair, and his face lit up with nostalgia in the thatched shadow of the hat. put
“According to Sophie, this hat could have been the lair of fairies. She wanted them to protect me.”
“Indeed, it's a fairy-tale by a witch, isn't it?”
I tried to joke with Alfred, but he unexpectedly answered, “I wondered,” with a serious expression on his face.
“Because Sophie seemed to see the phenomenon as fairies. She summoned them to her garden as watchers of her chickens that were
harmful insects. Of course, incredulous as Bradley and I were, we couldn't see anything. She looked as if she was happily murmuring too much with the air or plants. It didn't matter whether visitors came or not, she was playing with exterminating . This was the reason why people called her the witch. fairies
‘I don't believe in fairies.’ Every time I said
, Sophie gave me a mischievous smile. taht
‘You can't find them anywhere, but they are right beside you. Young England, you are loved by fairies.’
Young England was the ridiculous nickname for me Bradley gave. I felt pity that the Tomecks weren't blessed with children, yet I owed a debt of gratitude to them for fostering the neglected child of the Parker family just like their own child.
I was deeply grateful to be lavished with Sophie's love. However, even so I couldn't believe in such a thing as fairies. I had never taken her talk seriously. If I were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of SPR, I might have believed what she said. However, Sophie often showed us eccentric
. So I understood that she needed her head examined just like Bradley. Fairies? I reckon I had no choice, because I couldn't see the bloody things! behaviour
Sophie enjoyed taking good care of things even if they didn't exist. It was typical for her to lay out scones and herb tea for them at
. If I trod on pitiful fairies under my foot or struck them with my coat, in any case, whenever I was impolite to invisible them, I offended her. teatime
‘Don't treat your protectors so cruelly.’
So what? Give me a break!
Bradley knew how to treat her in the same vein everyday. I couldn't take good care of her, much less, I couldn't intentionally ignore her.”
Alfred paused for effect and looked back toward the garden.
“Four years ago on Christmas,” He recalled his memories back then while he was spreading black currant jam on bread.
“Sophie brought me to London. Her main purpose was a play written by Sir James Matthew Barry – ‘Peter Pan And Wendy’ in three acts as you probably know. It has become popular.”
“I know. The play was also rated as a huge success in New York. I heard a bronze statue was erected in
of him in Kensington garden. Boy, you saw that with her, didn't you? Did you clap your hands in time to the play?” honour
I spoke in jest after having a bite of bread. Alfred stared at me with a deadly serious face.
clapped her hands,” he said. Sophie who
“No, I didn't clap my hands. After all, I didn't believe in such nonsense as fairies. Even the child in the next seat was clapping his hands in all innocence, and even I had noticed Sophie's dejected eyes, I was hanging my head. So, I didn't clap my hands.”
Alfred repeated his words “I knew that.” His hands were clasped around a spoon, kneading jam at the bottom of the jar.
After seeing the play that they didn't like so much, Mrs Tomeck and
stayed for the night at a gloomy home in London. On top of that, Mrs Parker was rude to them him . Finally, they went for a walk in Hyde Park and had new coats made the next day before coming back to Blackpool. afterword
In the end, Alfred released the jam.
“By the way,” He raised the pitch of his voice and went on.
“The strong smell of iron and coal is getting worse and worse in London. The smog wasn't showing any sign of lifting, if anything, it's growing thicker. How many times did I have the impulse to break off smoking chimneys?”
“Calm down,” I said.
“Every house puts coal into their furnace since it's terribly freezing after dark. The railway is the transportation for citizens. That can't be avoided. The times have changed. A gas lamp has changed to an electric light. A telegram has changed to a telephone. A carriage has changed to a
. There will be no pollution in this city before long.” motorcar
I'm optimistic about the future. Well, we must endure an overcast sky caused by smog for a few years to come.
“That may be true,” Alfred reluctantly nodded.
“But it isn't so bad to put up with such inconveniences. Even if only a log fire is not good enough, only a log fire to warm myself, even if I
on horse droppings, I wish I could live under a blue sky.” stamp
He said in an indefinite voice. Now that he mentioned it, we have seen only smog and sticky rain in recent years.
“Because of the smog,” Alfred murmured.
I wondered if Mrs Tomeck's illness was diagnosed as
of bronchitis. And then, he started to slowly tell the story what happened to them the next morning after arriving from London. kind
“Sophie wearing her nightdress came into my bedroom, and the first thing she said to me as I woke up in a bad mood,
‘Have you seen the fairies, Alfie? It's worrying me they have not shown up since we came back.’
What's the matter with them? She was very upset and said she had thought they would have been around me.
Obviously, I was innocent, you know. I didn't do anything wrong, much less, I have never ever even seen these absurd fairies. How could I somehow manage to do anything with something that isn't there? First of all, it's ridiculous that things never existing in the world disappeared from view, isn't it?
‘Perhaps they have overslept,’ I said irresponsibly.
Then Sophie restlessly waited for them in the afternoon and helplessly waited the following day, too. When she decided that they were away from the garden, she asked the
by the sea where her missing friends were, after a long consideration. She insanely asked our kinsfolk in London to search for them. neighbours
Even the kinsfolk sent a physician, who is under contract to the Parker clan, to us for fear of her
their family name. That quack, the physician settled Sophie to sleep with medicine. Then he told me he found that she had had a slight fever and just had lost her health from acute anxiety. I explained the situation about the fairies as nonsense, just to make sure. And you know what the physician said? He scurried away and left a message with me. dishonouring
‘The occult is out of my field.’
Three days on, the fairies Sophie should
seen hadn't unexpectedly appeared. Four days later, the following week - they were still missing. She seriously began to feel bad. She had been ill in bed since the day she decided the fairies were gone and grieved deeply. had
‘What has become of the fairies? Perhaps they were eaten by a fox, or did they sneak out of the
motorcar that time? Ah, air like this is poison to them.’ And so on while wrapping herself up in a blanket. at
Firstly, I urged the need for her to face reality. I told her repeatedly that there was no such thing as fairies in real life in the first place.
‘It's absurd to get out of condition because of your imaginary friends. Face the fact that they are gone.
, forget about them. Then you will feel better.’ Dead
However, Sophie looked at me with more sorrow than anger, and she tried to search everywhere for them. Actually, even she couldn't get up from the bed.
In all truth, I had had enough of her
. That's why I had wondered if her illness was a mere behaviour . I believed she was just pretending to be ill just like she was pretending that she was able to see fairies.” pretence
I went to see Mrs Tomeck while she was in bed once, and that was the last time I had seen her. I do remember Mrs Tomeck on the bed as a ghost and Alfred being in deep grief next to her in the dimly lit room remaining closed the velvet curtains.
“It's a real pity.”
I put a comforting hand on Alfred's shoulder. He gave me a weak smile.
“The garden had been utterly neglected while Sophie had been kept in bed. Conditions were terrible for one month.
Raymond, I was appreciative of your support when you put me in contact with a good gardener. Yet I declined the offer, because I vaguely didn't want strangers touching her garden. So, I have tried to trim the garden since then, but my knowledge is nothing compared with my ability. It was all I could do to pull up weeds and drive foxes away.”
Alfred can draw on another for help if he needs, but we are quite at a loss what to do with his stubbornness. He had classed himself as lacking skill, because he wasn't diplomatic like his father, but on the other hand, his aim wasn't to be a writer like Mr Tomeck, besides he couldn't trim a rose properly like Mrs Tomeck.
Alfred said, “By the time I cleaned up a pile of weeds, it didn't matter to me whether Sophie's illness was true or not. In either case, I prayed for her speedy recovery. If she had got well, alright, I would have been happy with it. It wouldn't be so bad to look
her having a conversation with the air. It would be so much better than her on hard and coughing horribly. vomiting
If she had really needed the missing fairies, I should have been very determined - to hunt for them no matter what happened."
Alfred seemed perfectly sane. In contrast, I was greatly astonished by this remark.
“Say what? They are non-existent! How can you find something that is nowhere to be found?”
Alfred nodded and said “Exactly,” with an air of great importance while he was adding some tea to his teacup.
“Do you believe in things you can't see? How can you seek for trouble more than a blue rose? No one knows how to look for missing fairies. And most important of all, they are just imaginary creatures. Perhaps more accurately, I got the idea of making a show of searching for them for Sophie.”
“I began with” - Alfred went on and made a gesture of drawing something on the paper with a pen.
“I started writing descriptions of the
had heard from Sophie. They have a shape much like humans. They fly as well as any other birds with beautiful wings, speak English in the tone of the tinkle of bells and wear seasonal flowers. Their beds are on my straw hat or fallen leaves. Their size is about the size of my fist. They are never late at teatime. Fig jam is their fairies I . They protected Sophie because she looked after them. Also, they might protect me, because Sophie always prayed ‘Please give my love to Alfie.’ favourite
Most significantly, they can be seen by people who believe in fairies.”
Alfred said with a sigh in the same vein as if Mr Tomeck racked his brains about writing.
“I managed a smile awkwardly and brought Sophie's invisible friends to her. It wasn't once or twice, time and time again. Because I had thought the problem could be solved quickly if I put my mind to it. Despite my trumped-up stories under the
of finding her friends, all of them were lost upon Sophie. pretence
Each and every story I invented and puzzled my brains over was flatly rejected by her. Although I gave her a medicine bottle and said ‘I've caught the fairies!’, she refused to receive it ‘The bottle is empty.’ Alright, just let it go. Although I showed a developed photograph that I took of a fairy painting by Richard Doyle in the garden, at a glance she saw through the fake. Never mind, next! Although I pointed at a place where they returned to their homeland of Ireland on a map, she shook her head sadly and said,
‘They can't cross the sea, and they are originally from Yorkshire.’ if she says so.
I suddenly had a desire for a trip to Yorkshire and left at once. I
a search for them seriously there, and I couldn't find anything at all. I only met the girls of Bradford. After a great deal of thinking, I swallowed my pride and chatted happily as much as possible with the air. made
Nevertheless, she said "None of your jokes with me, Alfie."
This hit me like a punch. Her response discouraged me. I even asked the postman to pretend that he was notifying her of the arrival of a letter from the fairies that had moved into the forest. But she told me the handwriting was different from them. Now what?”
“Well, well, I admire you for it.”
I took my hat off to the obstinate young man's hidden devotion. Alfred had done so much to keep Mrs Tomeck company.
“I hoped Sophie would have been able to find her friends with her wild imagination as long as I was putting effort into it, too. To my chagrin, such things didn't happen. Sophie had never taken my childish tricks as real. I was stumped.
‘Just forget it.’ She said to me with a kind smile.”
with a faint dismal smile reflected on the surface of the tea in his teacup. calmness
“At the beginning of autumn, Sophie's health continued to deteriorate and she wasted away. I had heard nothing at all from her since. I was really fearful of Sophie being reduced to skin and bones as if she was almost not there, just like the fairies. The claps at the play kept returning to my mind. I cried and cried. I cried for the first time since I was a child. Maybe I was too mentally tired. Anyhow, my head and heart were furiously boiling over like a steaming pot. The tears flowed ceaselessly from bloodshot eyes.
When I was crying unbecoming to myself, the tears shaded into hatred. I mean I increasingly felt hatred toward the fairies - Just think, why did my restful life disintegrate into this mess?
Because of the thing which should be accepted as unreal, merely imaginary! Because they that came from nowhere impudently disappeared! That's why Sophie damaged her health. They drove her nuts!
I was blaming all that on them. I was enraged and shouted curses into the air
the end. in
‘Who are you kidding, for all my aunt's fevered imagination? Stop messing around! We have had enough of this hide-and-seek. Come out right now! I know you're there!’
I had been hanging around in the garden for hours as I was yelling a stream of abuse - Excuse me. Please don't say anything at all."
Alfred stopped me from interrupting his talk.
“I know perfectly well what you mean, Raymond. I, of course, was
He wore a self-mocking smile. I didn't know what to do for him. Surprisingly, he looked refreshed without bitter irony.
“I knew it in my heart,” Alfred went on.
“I pretty well knew it was hopeless to satisfy Sophie with hollow fiction. Even though I couldn't see them, she was undoubtedly able to see the fairies. I had to accept reality as it was. She used to naturally see, with sunken eyes,
in the garden. She saw things differently than I did. The fairies were, as they were, a part of her. fairies flying
What we see depends upon where we stand. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? No, but that's not proof that they are not there. No one can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are
in the world. unseeable
Then I wondered where they were. Just where the hell had they gone? Only Sophie was able to see them, even so they left her even though they had nowhere to go. If I searched for them with the belief in fairies, could I find them? Could I see things Sophie had seen? If I could see the world with eyes like her, what would become of us? I might have needed to defy my mindset. I had found myself thinking more about that.
I walked up and down the garden in a forlorn mess with fox burrows and weeds. I searched for the fairies in my anxiety nothing that I could possibly sense them with anything other than my
somehow, I wanted to be able to use my senses to notice their scents, buzzes, touches and so on. I desired to feel the world around her. sight
Seemingly the garden had been lying horribly disfigured. However, traces of the time with Bradley and Sophie were glittering just like
when I looked at it very carefully. Somehow, that glitter motivated me, possibly, to wish I were able to cast a magic spell like Sophie if I could really somehow found them. Imagine if you could find something unreal with your own hands, it would be nothing less than dew . Don't you think so? I had thought finding fairies would have completely changed my life in magic than before. a positive way more
I had never made such an earnest effort to do something. Yet before I knew it, I found that I was mad enough to want to crawl around in the garden with the dirt. I removed stones one by one and turned
over one by one. I climbed the apple tree and even dug holes in the ground. When I ran across a mole and spoke to him, I felt suicidally miserable, though. leaves
After that, I read a lot of books on fairies. When I nearly embarked on a black magic journey, my servants worried about me and took those books away. Well, but I think it didn't become so serious.
At any rate, I had never devoted all my energy so much. I had never put my heart and soul into something like this, in fact, I was still only twenty. There was a veil covering the unseen world which not even the strongest man could tear apart. Before I was aware of it, I found it was hard to believe what I had been looking for was a thing I couldn't find. I almost completely forgot that the missing thing was nowhere and they couldn't possibly have been there. No matter, the garden was reduced to wasteland, far from its former beauty, I wanted to push aside the veil and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.”
“You found them, didn't you?” I pressed Alfred.
“I'm sure you found them in the end. You must have seen them with your green eyes.”
I swear I wasn't being sarcastic. Even if his story was just an excuse to get me out here, I felt embarrassed when Alfred talked so frank like this. In all truth, I continued to visit the villa for a financial reward from his father.
“Would you care for some more tea?”
Alfred noticed my empty teacup and asked me. As I couldn't stand no answer from him, I filled the cup roughly and threw a slice of bread into my mouth. Then I waited for the answer while I was munching on it.
“No, I couldn't.” Alfred readily
I stuffed my stomach with bread and took a mouthful of tea. His single remark killed my expectations. He asked if I wanted to listen to the rest of the story. I nodded after cleaning my throat in embarrassment.
“The seasons had gone around and it was winter. On a chilly Sunday, when I gave Sophie a fresh fish I bought in Fleetwood, she whispered something for the first time in several months.
‘Alfie,’ I heard her calling my name.
‘I have no one but you
upon.’ she said softly. to rely
I jumped at a request, of course.
‘Is there something I can do for you?’
‘Would you like to visit London and go see the play again? In Kensington gardens not far from the theatre, there should be your straw hat.’ She talked to me like that.
That reminded me, my hat was gone. Why didn't I
it until then? I was past caring about my head. Still, I had absolutely no idea if the realise owner had forgotten was still in Kensington Gardens. hat the
Accounting to Sophie, she brought her imaginary friends just before we left
London, because they were anxious to meet their relatives. That's why she used my hat as a makeshift bed for them. However, the air in London had been polluted by smog. It stopped them from going out, and what was worse, they couldn't meet their relatives when they visited Hyde Park. Out of pity, she left my hat as a parting gift for them to burrow into among the smog. to
I was in complete ignorance of her plan in London. From her point of view, she wasn't secretive about it. But I had a closed mind back then. On top of that, I was in a foul temper after that play, so I was acting like Sophie and I were strangers.
Until we got into a
to come back home, her little friends were very quiet. It was dimly motorcar in the car throughout the night, and we got there before dawn. Then we were stripped of clothes and were sent to lighted by the maids. Sophie missed the fairies the next morning. beds
I got irritated, ‘Why didn't you say so earlier?’
If I had known what she was saying now, I would have visited London right away. I was under the mistaken belief that they disappeared from this garden. Sophie seemed to blame herself.
‘It was the last thing I was expecting that you would try to find my friends so earnestly.’
She wept and
to me. apologised
‘Forgive me that I didn't believe you, Alfie.’
I - I felt like such a fool! She shouldn't have had to
, because it was my fault. It was I who didn't believe her at first. I was the first. Listen, I found I was wrong!” apologise
Alfred's voice faded out. He fell silent.
“Therefore, did you go to London?”
He nodded as I hesitantly asked.
“I watched the same play,” He said and added a star, they had replaced the old with the new.
“I clapped as hard as I could then. Some members of the audience laughed at me, but I felt better than ever.”
Alfred lifted his head up. His smile without any affectation reminded me of Mrs Tomeck when she was still alive.
“London was still a smoggy city. If you go from Duke of York's Theatre 'Second to the right, and straight on till morning', don't be surprised, but you'll come out
at Hyde Park. The straw hat was not to be seen round the Round Pond Sophie told me about. Come to think of it, it happened one year ago, as you know. I doubted if the hat was still there. I searched for it frantically with a lantern late at night. I intended to look around the whole park.
Animals with insomnia took advantage of the deserted time and stalked along the park. It was bad enough to be surrounded
with ducks, pigeons and swans, without squirrels persistently begging for peanuts. What an impudent animals they were. I tried to drive them away while I was walking along Serpentine. Then I was out in an open space with the bronze statue of Peter Pan in question.
The mischievous boy standing in the moonlight was sporting a familiar thing - Look, that was the very straw hat I was looking for!
I scrambled up the bronze statue without hesitation to peel my hat from Peter playing reed pipes. He was a horrible boy, because the hat is mine.
Something fell fluttering onto the lawn by accident. They were the flowers Sophie had put in the hat. My hat had got ruined and slightly stained, and sure
enough it was a very ordinary straw hat in the moonlight. Yet I simply couldn't give up hope to find the fairies. I was standing there alone like an idiot, just gazing at the hat. After that, I noticed the movement of squirrels at my feet. I could smell something strange and heard a faint noise. The squirrels made a circle around the flowers like a gathering. It started me wondering, so I shone the lantern towards the centre of the circle.
I could see fluffs of poplars and some bluebells there. Bluebells withered in the cold, and I couldn't find the same sort of flowers near the bronze statue. Certainly, they were just dead flowers and
fluffs. Somehow, however, I draw inspiration from them as I was gazing at them, though I didn't know why - The rank smell of something rotten, shallow breathing and the beat of a living thing. Just a sense. My heart leaped. I must have been either mad or dreaming but - what did that matter?
As I caught their eyes, they called my name. The suspense was killing me. I was not sure how I did it, but I spoke in an incredibly gentle voice to them.
‘Dear, you are there, aren't you? It's all right. It's Alfred, I'm here now. I came looking for you instead of Sophie. Now, Let's go home.’
All of a sudden there
rose a puff of wind as if it was in response to Alfred's words. Even though it may be just my imagination or the rustle of leaves, it sounded like the tinkle of a bell to me. He was tracing thatches on the hat so comfortably in the wind.
“A coronet of bluebells is the headdress of a fairy,” he said.
“I didn't mind the cold in the least because I was so full of joy. I felt myself growing hot. I knelt down to gather the bluebells. Then I shone the lantern on them prayerfully. How I felt like pressing my cheek on them! As the lantern lit the area, I found a different type of deep blue, something different from the bluebells.
They were blue wings. They were very thin, very
shiny and glittering in the dark. I felt the warmth of them with my touch. When I put them in my palm, I felt the weight of nearly a mouse. Surprised wasn't the word for it. I was in a daze, even I could hardly breathe. Here, indeed, were the true fairies.
After calming myself down, I carefully kept them in the hat and hurried home to Blackpool. Of course, I didn't forget thanking the squirrels before that.
In the early morning, Sophie was sleeping like who is dead as I eased the door open. I ran up to her, regardless.
‘Sophie, please wake up. I found the missing fairies!’
I showed her the contents of my hat.
‘As you told me, they were in London, in Kensington gardens. It was just out of curiosity that they stayed away from you, because they became friends with bright squirrels in Hyde Park. They made a bed out of fluffs of poplars in a tree. Look, they picked these bluebells.
It implied that they had been still surviving last summer. However, what a pity! The poor fairies fell down after being exposed to the smog for ages. By the time they asked for help from Peter Pan, heavy coughing was nearly choking them. They already couldn't move another step.
Cross my heart and hope to die. I'm not telling lies, because, I really saw them! I heard whispering voice calling me with the last of their strength, and I noticed the same smell of death like Bradley. I believe they were fairies. Ah, I'm so sorry for being late, Sophie. If I had found them earlier, I could have helped them.’
At the sight of Sophie, tears welled up in my eyes. I was afraid she wouldn't believe what I said again. The thought made me sweat with fear. It shook my confidence. Even I had the suspicion such bluebells and blue wings might have been no more than someone's practical joke. Opening her blue eyes, it really killed me. I tried not to cry and brought the hat close to her face.
‘See, look at this! My hat you gave me and the bluebells the fairies wore. Here, what beautiful blue wings. Look what I found.
Honest I saw them, I felt them. Please, please believe me.’
As I shook, stuttered and struggled with it, an oppressive silence descended on us. I was shivering with fear. It felt as though I said only empty words, or it was a convenient excuse to try to make she believes what I said. After all, I had never taken her fairy-tale seriously."
“Right?” - Alfred said unhappily to me. I couldn't do anything but nod. It would have been a transparent lie if I had answered at all. As if a lot of small eyes were spying on me, I wished to look away from
him but I stood the pressure to gain their trust.
“Sophie with a faraway look mouthed something. I bent my ear to her quickly. Her eyes filled with tears, and her face was more and more wrinkled. She raised her arm like a stick with difficulty and held me close.
‘Alfie, my young England,’
She gave me a serene smile and said.
‘Thank you for finding them. It's never too late to look for something. Your efforts
haven't been for nothing. Just look at the hat. The fairies may need a long rest now, even so some of them just survived.’
Sophie gave me a kiss on the forehead like I was a child. She thanked me with a voice like singing a lullaby until she slept. I collapsed weakly and cried convulsively.
‘Thank God they live! They live here!’
What a relief! I was very glad, really. The lump in my breast was completely removed. The hat was quite heavy in my hands opposite my light body.
‘Hey, I did it! Now she will recover soon!’
Just as it eased my mind. I got intensely sleepy and slept like a log."
Sometimes wishes come true. However, but not Alfred's wish. The sad fact is that Mrs Tomeck passed away.
“In spite of everything,” Alfred said gently.
“Nothing was right again. I laid the bluebells and the blue wings in the coffin with Sophie. Then I prayed
to her little friends - Please live with Sophie in perfect harmony in heaven as before. I believe they granted my wish.
I found out later, it wasn't only fairies that couldn't see. She was very blind from the illness. To my thinking, she couldn't even see the fairies, much less, my face. I now know that the blue wings bare a resemblance to a butterfly on a Swiss diagram, as for the bluebells, they grow everywhere in England."
Alfred gave me a helpless smile and swallowed the last of his tea.
“Still, why can you say
definitely it isn't there if it's out of sight? What would that prove? Just because you can't see them is no reason to dismiss them.
There were fairies. They existed as certainly as love and integrity and devotion exist. You know that they are around and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. A thing which had occurred to your mind has its own truth. If you want to be closer
with others, it depends on how far you can stay close beside their truths. It's not so important what actually happens, but the only that is important is where your inspiration comes from."
Alfred finally found the right words to give shape to his sorrow.
I drank the last of the tea in my cup and looked around at Mrs Tomeck's garden again. Each flower was the perfect match for its place. Flowers were blooming in profusion in the garden. In all
respects but refined borders of colour, geraniums were in flower in the gutter like a tapestry. There were black hellebores under the shade of a tree. The high ground was slightly covered by sweet peas. Apple blossoms were fluttering down in the summer light. It was worthy of the attention of any famous landscape gardener. I had never thought Alfred had such a green thumb. The garden ruined by an absentee owner had come back to life with the work he had done for two years.
I gazed at the straw hat beside him. Others wouldn't believe such a fairy-tale. Oh dear, should I invent an excuse for his father in London? It would be quite a job.
“Isn't it hot today?”
Alfred said and smeared fig jam on a peace of bread. Then he set it with
cup of tea in front of the unseen third guest.
“Isn't it just.”
I had no intention of saying things about the tea and the
bread getting cold in front of the empty seat.