The Story of the Amulet
E. Nesbit

Part 3 out of 5

'No--oh, no,' said Cyril. 'It's all right now. Thanks ever so.'

'You are a dear,' cried Anthea, not in the least knowing what she
was saying. 'Oh, thank you thank you. But DO go NOW!'

She caught the hand of the creature, and it was cold and hard in
hers, like a hand of stone.

'Go forward,' said Nisroch. And they went.

'Oh, my good gracious,' said the Queen as they stood before her.
'How did you get here? I KNEW you were magic. I meant to let
you out the first thing in the morning, if I could slip away--but
thanks be to Dagon, you've managed it for yourselves. You must
get away. I'll wake my chief lady and she shall call
Ritti-Marduk, and he'll let you out the back way, and--'

'Don't rouse anybody for goodness' sake,' said Anthea, 'except
Jane, and I'll rouse her.'

She shook Jane with energy, and Jane slowly awoke.

'Ritti-Marduk brought them in hours ago, really,' said the Queen,
'but I wanted to have the Psammead all to myself for a bit.
You'll excuse the little natural deception?--it's part of the
Babylonish character, don't you know? But I don't want anything
to happen to you. Do let me rouse someone.'

'No, no, no,' said Anthea with desperate earnestness. She
thought she knew enough of what the Babylonians were like when
they were roused. 'We can go by our own magic. And you will
tell the King it wasn't the gaoler's fault. It was Nisroch.'

'Nisroch!' echoed the Queen. 'You are indeed magicians.'

Jane sat up, blinking stupidly.

'Hold It up, and say the word,' cried Cyril, catching up the
Psammead, which mechanically bit him, but only very slightly.

'Which is the East?' asked Jane.

'Behind me,' said the Queen. 'Why?'

'Ur Hekau Setcheh,' said Jane sleepily, and held up the charm.

And there they all were in the dining-room at 300, Fitzroy

'Jane,' cried Cyril with great presence of mind, 'go and get the
plate of sand down for the Psammead.'

Jane went.

'Look here!' he said quickly, as the sound of her boots grew less
loud on the stairs, 'don't let's tell her about the dungeon and
all that. It'll only frighten her so that she'll never want to
go anywhere else.'

'Righto!' said Cyril; but Anthea felt that she could not have
said a word to save her life.

'Why did you want to come back in such a hurry?' asked Jane,
returning with the plate of sand. 'It was awfully jolly in
Babylon, I think! I liked it no end.'

'Oh, yes,' said Cyril carelessly. 'It was jolly enough, of
course, but I thought we'd been there long enough. Mother always
says you oughtn't to wear out your welcome!'



'Now tell us what happened to you,' said Cyril to Jane, when he
and the others had told her all about the Queen's talk and the
banquet, and the variety entertainment, carefully stopping short
before the beginning of the dungeon part of the story.

'It wasn't much good going,' said Jane, 'if you didn't even try
to get the Amulet.'

'We found out it was no go,' said Cyril; 'it's not to be got in
Babylon. It was lost before that. We'll go to some other jolly
friendly place, where everyone is kind and pleasant, and look for
it there. Now tell us about your part.'

'Oh,' said Jane, 'the Queen's man with the smooth face--what was
his name?'

'Ritti-Marduk,' said Cyril.

'Yes,' said Jane, 'Ritti-Marduk, he came for me just after the
Psammead had bitten the guard-of-the-gate's wife's little boy,
and he took me to the Palace. And we had supper with the new
little Queen from Egypt. She is a dear--not much older than you.
She told me heaps about Egypt. And we played ball after supper.
And then the Babylon Queen sent for me. I like her too. And she
talked to the Psammead and I went to sleep. And then you woke me
up. That's all.'

The Psammead, roused from its sound sleep, told the same story.

'But,' it added, 'what possessed you to tell that Queen that I
could give wishes? I sometimes think you were born without even
the most rudimentary imitation of brains.'

The children did not know the meaning of rudimentary, but it
sounded a rude, insulting word.

'I don't see that we did any harm,' said Cyril sulkily.

'Oh, no,' said the Psammead with withering irony, 'not at all!
Of course not! Quite the contrary! Exactly so! Only she
happened to wish that she might soon find herself in your
country. And soon may mean any moment.'

'Then it's your fault,' said Robert, 'because you might just as
well have made "soon" mean some moment next year or next

'That's where you, as so often happens, make the mistake,'
rejoined the Sand-fairy. '_I_ couldn't mean anything but what
SHE meant by "soon". It wasn't my wish. And what SHE meant was
the next time the King happens to go out lion hunting. So she'll
have a whole day, and perhaps two, to do as she wishes with. SHE
doesn't know about time only being a mode of thought.'

'Well,' said Cyril, with a sigh of resignation, 'we must do what
we can to give her a good time. She was jolly decent to us. I
say, suppose we were to go to St James's Park after dinner and
feed those ducks that we never did feed. After all that Babylon
and all those years ago, I feel as if I should like to see
something REAL, and NOW. You'll come, Psammead?'

'Where's my priceless woven basket of sacred rushes?' asked the
Psammead morosely. 'I can't go out with nothing on. And I
won't, what's more.'

And then everybody remembered with pain that the bass bag had, in
the hurry of departure from Babylon, not been remembered.

'But it's not so extra precious,' said Robert hastily. 'You can
get them given to you for nothing if you buy fish in Farringdon

'Oh,' said the Psammead very crossly indeed, 'so you presume on
my sublime indifference to the things of this disgusting modern
world, to fob me off with a travelling equipage that costs you
nothing. Very well, I shall go to sand. Please don't wake me.'

And it went then and there to sand, which, as you know, meant to
bed. The boys went to St James's Park to feed the ducks, but
they went alone.

Anthea and Jane sat sewing all the afternoon. They cut off half
a yard from each of their best green Liberty sashes. A towel cut
in two formed a lining; and they sat and sewed and sewed and
sewed. What they were making was a bag for the Psammead. Each
worked at a half of the bag. jane's half had four-leaved
shamrocks embroidered on it. They were the only things she could
do (because she had been taught how at school, and, fortunately,
some of the silk she had been taught with was left over). And
even so, Anthea had to draw the pattern for her. Anthea's side
of the bag had letters on it--worked hastily but affectionately
in chain stitch. They were something like this:


She would have put 'travelling carriage', but she made the
letters too big, so there was no room. The bag was made INTO a
bag with old Nurse's sewing machine, and the strings of it were
Anthea's and Jane's best red hair ribbons. At tea-time, when the
boys had come home with a most unfavourable report of the St
james's Park ducks, Anthea ventured to awaken the Psammead, and
to show it its new travelling bag.

'Humph,' it said, sniffing a little contemptuously, yet at the
same time affectionately, 'it's not so dusty.'

The Psammead seemed to pick up very easily the kind of things
that people said nowadays. For a creature that had in its time
associated with Megatheriums and Pterodactyls, its quickness was
really wonderful.

'It's more worthy of me,' it said, 'than the kind of bag that's
given away with a pound of plaice. When do you propose to take
me out in it?'

'I should like a rest from taking you or us anywhere,' said
Cyril. But Jane said--

'I want to go to Egypt. I did like that Egyptian Princess that
came to marry the King in Babylon. She told me about the larks
they have in Egypt. And the cats. Do let's go there. And I
told her what the bird things on the Amulet were like. And she
said it was Egyptian writing.'

The others exchanged looks of silent rejoicing at the thought of
their cleverness in having concealed from Jane the terrors they
had suffered in the dungeon below the Euphrates.

'Egypt's so nice too,' Jane went on, 'because of Doctor Brewer's
Scripture History. I would like to go there when Joseph was
dreaming those curious dreams, or when Moses was doing wonderful
things with snakes and sticks.'

'I don't care about snakes,' said Anthea shuddering.

'Well, we needn't be in at that part, but Babylon was lovely! We
had cream and sweet, sticky stuff. And I expect Egypt's the

There was a good deal of discussion, but it all ended in
everybody's agreeing to Jane's idea. And next morning directly
after breakfast (which was kippers and very nice) the Psammead
was invited to get into his travelling carriage.

The moment after it had done so, with stiff, furry reluctance,
like that of a cat when you want to nurse it, and its ideas are
not the same as yours, old Nurse came in.

'Well, chickies,' she said, 'are you feeling very dull?'

'Oh, no, Nurse dear,' said Anthea; 'we're having a lovely time.
We're just going off to see some old ancient relics.'

'Ah,' said old Nurse, 'the Royal Academy, I suppose? Don't go
wasting your money too reckless, that's all.'

She cleared away the kipper bones and the tea-things, and when
she had swept up the crumbs and removed the cloth, the Amulet was
held up and the order given--just as Duchesses (and other people)
give it to their coachmen.

'To Egypt, please!' said Anthea, when Cyril had uttered the
wonderful Name of Power.

'When Moses was there,' added Jane.

And there, in the dingy Fitzroy Street dining-room, the Amulet
grew big, and it was an arch, and through it they saw a blue,
blue sky and a running river.

'No, stop!' said Cyril, and pulled down jane's hand with the
Amulet in it.

'What silly cuckoos we all are,' he said. 'Of course we can't
go. We daren't leave home for a single minute now, for fear that
minute should be THE minute.'

'What minute be WHAT minute?' asked Jane impatiently, trying to
get her hand away from Cyril.

'The minute when the Queen of Babylon comes,' said Cyril. And
then everyone saw it.

For some days life flowed in a very slow, dusty, uneventful

The children could never go out all at once, because they never
knew when the King of Babylon would go out lion hunting and leave
his Queen free to pay them that surprise visit to which she was,
without doubt, eagerly looking forward.

So they took it in turns, two and two, to go out and to stay in.

The stay-at-homes would have been much duller than they were but
for the new interest taken in them by the learned gentleman.

He called Anthea in one day to show her a beautiful necklace of
purple and gold beads.

'I saw one like that,' she said, 'in--'

'In the British Museum, perhaps?'

'I like to call the place where I saw it Babylon,' said Anthea

'A pretty fancy,' said the learned gentleman, 'and quite correct
too, because, as a matter of fact, these beads did come from
Babylon.' The other three were all out that day. The boys had
been going to the Zoo, and Jane had said so plaintively, 'I'm
sure I am fonder of rhinoceroses than either of you are,' that
Anthea had told her to run along then. And she had run, catching
the boys before that part of the road where Fitzroy Street
suddenly becomes Fitzroy Square.

'I think Babylon is most frightfully interesting,' said Anthea.
'I do have such interesting dreams about it--at least, not dreams
exactly, but quite as wonderful.'

'Do sit down and tell me,' said he. So she sat down and told.
And he asked her a lot of questions, and she answered them as
well as she could.

'Wonderful--wonderful!' he said at last. 'One's heard of
thought-transference, but I never thought _I_ had any power of
that sort. Yet it must be that, and very bad for YOU, I should
think. Doesn't your head ache very much?'

He suddenly put a cold, thin hand on her forehead.

'No thank you, not at all,' said she.

'I assure you it is not done intentionally,' he went on. 'Of
course I know a good deal about Babylon, and I unconsciously
communicate it to you; you've heard of thought-reading, but some
of the things you say, I don't understand; they never enter my
head, and yet they're so astoundingly probable.'

'It's all right,' said Anthea reassuringly. '_I_ understand.
And don't worry. It's all quite simple really.'

It was not quite so simple when Anthea, having heard the others
come in, went down, and before she had had time to ask how they
had liked the Zoo, heard a noise outside, compared to which the
wild beasts' noises were gentle as singing birds.

'Good gracious!' cried Anthea, 'what's that?'

The loud hum of many voices came through the open window. Words
could be distinguished.

''Ere's a guy!'

'This ain't November. That ain't no guy. It's a ballet lady,
that's what it is.'

'Not it--it's a bloomin' looney, I tell you.'

Then came a clear voice that they knew.

'Retire, slaves!' it said.

'What's she a saying of?' cried a dozen voices. 'Some blamed
foreign lingo,' one voice replied.

The children rushed to the door. A crowd was on the road and

In the middle of the crowd, plainly to be seen from the top of
the steps, were the beautiful face and bright veil of the
Babylonian Queen.

'Jimminy!' cried Robert, and ran down the steps, 'here she is!'

'Here!' he cried, 'look out--let the lady pass. She's a friend
of ours, coming to see us.'

'Nice friend for a respectable house,' snorted a fat woman with
marrows on a handcart.

All the same the crowd made way a little. The Queen met Robert
on the pavement, and Cyril joined them, the Psammead bag still on
his arm.

'Here,' he whispered; 'here's the Psammead; you can get wishes.'

'_I_ wish you'd come in a different dress, if you HAD to come,'
said Robert; 'but it's no use my wishing anything.'

'No,' said the Queen. 'I wish I was dressed--no, I don't--I wish
THEY were dressed properly, then they wouldn't be so silly.'

The Psammead blew itself out till the bag was a very tight fit
for it; and suddenly every man, woman, and child in that crowd
felt that it had not enough clothes on. For, of course, the
Queen's idea of proper dress was the dress that had been proper
for the working-classes 3,000 years ago in Babylon--and there was
not much of it.

'Lawky me!' said the marrow-selling woman, 'whatever could a-took
me to come out this figure?' and she wheeled her cart away very
quickly indeed.

'Someone's made a pretty guy of you--talk of guys,' said a man
who sold bootlaces.

'Well, don't you talk,' said the man next to him. 'Look at your
own silly legs; and where's your boots?'

'I never come out like this, I'll take my sacred,' said the
bootlace-seller. 'I wasn't quite myself last night, I'll own,
but not to dress up like a circus.'

The crowd was all talking at once, and getting rather angry. But
no one seemed to think of blaming the Queen.

Anthea bounded down the steps and pulled her up; the others
followed, and the door was shut. 'Blowed if I can make it out!'
they heard. 'I'm off home, I am.'

And the crowd, coming slowly to the same mind, dispersed,
followed by another crowd of persons who were not dressed in what
the Queen thought was the proper way.

'We shall have the police here directly,' said Anthea in the
tones of despair. 'Oh, why did you come dressed like that?'

The Queen leaned against the arm of the horse-hair sofa.

'How else can a queen dress I should like to know?' she

'Our Queen wears things like other people,' said Cyril.

'Well, I don't. And I must say,' she remarked in an injured
tone, 'that you don't seem very glad to see me now I HAVE come.
But perhaps it's the surprise that makes you behave like this.
Yet you ought to be used to surprises. The way you vanished! I
shall never forget it. The best magic I've ever seen. How did
you do it?'

'Oh, never mind about that now,' said Robert. 'You see you've
gone and upset all those people, and I expect they'll fetch the
police. And we don't want to see you collared and put in

'You can't put queens in prison,' she said loftily. 'Oh, can't
you?' said Cyril. 'We cut off a king's head here once.'

'In this miserable room? How frightfully interesting.'

'No, no, not in this room; in history.'

'Oh, in THAT,' said the Queen disparagingly. 'I thought you'd
done it with your own hands.'

The girls shuddered.

'What a hideous city yours is,' the Queen went on pleasantly,
'and what horrid, ignorant people. Do you know they actually
can't understand a single word I say.'

'Can you understand them?' asked Jane.

'Of course not; they speak some vulgar, Northern dialect. I can
understand YOU quite well.'

I really am not going to explain AGAIN how it was that the
children could understand other languages than their own so
thoroughly, and talk them, too, so that it felt and sounded (to
them) just as though they were talking English.

'Well,' said Cyril bluntly, 'now you've seen just how horrid it
is, don't you think you might as well go home again?' 'Why, I've
seen simply nothing yet,' said the Queen, arranging her starry
veil. 'I wished to be at your door, and I was. Now I must go
and see your King and Queen.'

'Nobody's allowed to,' said Anthea in haste; 'but look here,
we'll take you and show you anything you'd like to see--anything
you CAN see,' she added kindly, because she remembered how nice
the Queen had been to them in Babylon, even if she had been a
little deceitful in the matter of Jane and Psammead.

'There's the Museum,' said Cyril hopefully; 'there are lots of
things from your country there. If only we could disguise you a

'I know,' said Anthea suddenly. 'Mother's old theatre cloak, and
there are a lot of her old hats in the big box.'

The blue silk, lace-trimmed cloak did indeed hide some of the
Queen's startling splendours, but the hat fitted very badly. It
had pink roses in it; and there was something about the coat or
the hat or the Queen, that made her look somehow not very

'Oh, never mind,' said Anthea, when Cyril whispered this. 'The
thing is to get her out before Nurse has finished her forty
winks. I should think she's about got to the thirty-ninth wink
by now.'

'Come on then,' said Robert. 'You know how dangerous it is.
Let's make haste into the Museum. If any of those people you
made guys of do fetch the police, they won't think of looking for
you there.'

The blue silk coat and the pink-rosed hat attracted almost as
much attention as the royal costume had done; and the children
were uncommonly glad to get out of the noisy streets into the
grey quiet of the Museum.

'Parcels and umbrellas to be left here,' said a man at the

The party had no umbrellas, and the only parcel was the bag
containing the Psammead, which the Queen had insisted should be

'I'M not going to be left,' said the Psammead softly, 'so don't
you think it.'

'I'll wait outside with you,' said Anthea hastily, and went to
sit on the seat near the drinking fountain.

'Don't sit so near that nasty fountain,' said the creature
crossly; 'I might get splashed.'

Anthea obediently moved to another seat and waited. Indeed she
waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. The
Psammead dropped into an uneasy slumber. Anthea had long ceased
to watch the swing-door that always let out the wrong person, and
she was herself almost asleep, and still the others did not come

It was quite a start when Anthea suddenly realized that they HAD
come back, and that they were not alone. Behind them was quite a
crowd of men in uniform, and several gentlemen were there.
Everyone seemed very angry.

'Now go,' said the nicest of the angry gentlemen. 'Take the
poor, demented thing home and tell your parents she ought to be
properly looked after.'

'If you can't get her to go we must send for the police,' said
the nastiest gentleman.

'But we don't wish to use harsh measures,' added the nice one,
who was really very nice indeed, and seemed to be over all the

'May I speak to my sister a moment first?' asked Robert.

The nicest gentleman nodded, and the officials stood round the
Queen, the others forming a sort of guard while Robert crossed
over to Anthea.

'Everything you can think of,' he replied to Anthea's glance of
inquiry. 'Kicked up the most frightful shine in there. Said
those necklaces and earrings and things in the glass cases were
all hers--would have them out of the cases. Tried to break the
glass--she did break one bit! Everybody in the place has been at
her. No good. I only got her out by telling her that was the
place where they cut queens' heads off.'

'Oh, Bobs, what a whacker!'

'You'd have told a whackinger one to get her out. Besides, it
wasn't. I meant MUMMY queens. How do you know they don't cut
off mummies' heads to see how the embalming is done? What I want
to say is, can't you get her to go with you quietly?'

'I'll try,' said Anthea, and went up to the Queen.

'Do come home,' she said; 'the learned gentleman in our house has
a much nicer necklace than anything they've got here. Come and
see it.'

The Queen nodded.

'You see,' said the nastiest gentleman, 'she does understand

'I was talking Babylonian, I think,' said Anthea bashfully.

'My good child,' said the nice gentleman, 'what you're talking is
not Babylonian, but nonsense. You just go home at once, and tell
your parents exactly what has happened.'

Anthea took the Queen's hand and gently pulled her away. The
other children followed, and the black crowd of angry gentlemen
stood on the steps watching them. It was when the little party
of disgraced children, with the Queen who had disgraced them, had
reached the middle of the courtyard that her eyes fell on the bag
where the Psammead was. She stopped short.

'I wish,' she said, very loud and clear, 'that all those
Babylonian things would come out to me here--slowly, so that
those dogs and slaves can see the working of the great Queen's

'Oh, you ARE a tiresome woman,' said the Psammead in its bag, but
it puffed itself out.

Next moment there was a crash. The glass swing doors and all
their framework were smashed suddenly and completely. The crowd
of angry gentlemen sprang aside when they saw what had done this.

But the nastiest of them was not quick enough, and he was roughly
pushed out of the way by an enormous stone bull that was floating
steadily through the door. It came and stood beside the Queen in
the middle of the courtyard.

It was followed by more stone images, by great slabs of carved
stone, bricks, helmets, tools, weapons, fetters, wine-jars,
bowls, bottles, vases, jugs, saucers, seals, and the round long
things, something like rolling pins with marks on them like the
print of little bird-feet, necklaces, collars, rings, armlets,
earrings--heaps and heaps and heaps of things, far more than
anyone had time to count, or even to see distinctly.

All the angry gentlemen had abruptly sat down on the Museum steps
except the nice one. He stood with his hands in his pockets just
as though he was quite used to seeing great stone bulls and all
sorts of small Babylonish objects float out into the Museum yard.

But he sent a man to close the big iron gates.

A journalist, who was just leaving the museum, spoke to Robert as
he passed.

'Theosophy, I suppose?' he said. 'Is she Mrs Besant?'

'YES,' said Robert recklessly.

The journalist passed through the gates just before they were

He rushed off to Fleet Street, and his paper got out a new
edition within half an hour.



People saw it in fat, black letters on the boards carried by the
sellers of newspapers. Some few people who had nothing better to
do went down to the Museum on the tops of omnibuses. But by the
time they got there there was nothing to be seen. For the
Babylonian Queen had suddenly seen the closed gates, had felt the
threat of them, and had said--

'I wish we were in your house.'

And, of course, instantly they were.

The Psammead was furious.

'Look here,' it said, 'they'll come after you, and they'll find
ME. There'll be a National Cage built for me at Westminster, and
I shall have to work at politics. Why wouldn't you leave the
things in their places?'

'What a temper you have, haven't you?' said the Queen serenely.
'I wish all the things were back in their places. Will THAT do
for you?'

The Psammead swelled and shrank and spoke very angrily.

'I can't refuse to give your wishes,' it said, 'but I can Bite.
And I will if this goes on. Now then.'

'Ah, don't,' whispered Anthea close to its bristling ear; 'it's
dreadful for us too. Don't YOU desert us. Perhaps she'll wish
herself at home again soon.'

'Not she,' said the Psammead a little less crossly.

'Take me to see your City,' said the Queen.

The children looked at each other.

'If we had some money we could take her about in a cab. People
wouldn't notice her so much then. But we haven't.'

'Sell this,' said the Queen, taking a ring from her finger.

'They'd only think we'd stolen it,' said Cyril bitterly, 'and put
us in prison.'

'All roads lead to prison with you, it seems,' said the Queen.

'The learned gentleman!' said Anthea, and ran up to him with the
ring in her hand.

'Look here,' she said, 'will you buy this for a pound?'

'Oh!' he said in tones of joy and amazement, and took the ring
into his hand. 'It's my very own,' said Anthea; 'it was given to
me to sell.'

'I'll lend you a pound,' said the learned gentleman, 'with
pleasure; and I'll take care of the ring for you. Who did you
say gave it to you?'

'We call her,' said Anthea carefully, 'the Queen of Babylon.'

'Is it a game?' he asked hopefully.

'It'll be a pretty game if I don't get the money to pay for cabs
for her,' said Anthea.

'I sometimes think,' he said slowly, 'that I am becoming insane,
or that--'

'Or that I am; but I'm not, and you're not, and she's not.'

'Does she SAY that she's the Queen of Babylon?' he uneasily

'Yes,' said Anthea recklessly.

'This thought-transference is more far-reaching than I imagined,'
he said. 'I suppose I have unconsciously influenced HER, too. I
never thought my Babylonish studies would bear fruit like this.
Horrible! There are more things in heaven and earth--'

'Yes,' said Anthea, 'heaps more. And the pound is the thing _I_
want more than anything on earth.'

He ran his fingers through his thin hair.

'This thought-transference!' he said. 'It's undoubtedly a
Babylonian ring--or it seems so to me. But perhaps I have
hypnotized myself. I will see a doctor the moment I have
corrected the last proofs of my book.'

'Yes, do!' said Anthea, 'and thank you so very much.'

She took the sovereign and ran down to the others.

And now from the window of a four-wheeled cab the Queen of
Babylon beheld the wonders of London. Buckingham Palace she
thought uninteresting; Westminster Abbey and the Houses of
Parliament little better. But she liked the Tower, and the
River, and the ships filled her with wonder and delight.

'But how badly you keep your slaves. How wretched and poor and
neglected they seem,' she said, as the cab rattled along the Mile
End Road.

'They aren't slaves; they're working-people,' said Jane.

'Of course they're working. That's what slaves are. Don't you
tell me. Do you suppose I don't know a slave's face when I see

Why don't their masters see that they're better fed and better
clothed? Tell me in three words.'

No one answered. The wage-system of modern England is a little
difficult to explain in three words even if you understand
it--which the children didn't.

'You'll have a revolt of your slaves if you're not careful,' said
the Queen.

'Oh, no,' said Cyril; 'you see they have votes--that makes them
safe not to revolt. It makes all the difference. Father told me

'What is this vote?' asked the Queen. 'Is it a charm? What do
they do with it?'

'I don't know,' said the harassed Cyril; 'it's just a vote,
that's all! They don't do anything particular with it.'

'I see,' said the Queen; 'a sort of plaything. Well, I wish that
all these slaves may have in their hands this moment their fill
of their favourite meat and drink.'

Instantly all the people in the Mile End Road, and in all the
other streets where poor people live, found their hands full of
things to eat and drink. From the cab window could be seen
persons carrying every kind of food, and bottles and cans as
well. Roast meat, fowls, red lobsters, great yellowy crabs,
fried fish, boiled pork, beef-steak puddings, baked onions,
mutton pies; most of the young people had oranges and sweets and
cake. It made an enormous change in the look of the Mile End
Road--brightened it up, so to speak, and brightened up, more than
you can possibly imagine, the faces of the people.

'Makes a difference, doesn't it?' said the Queen.

'That's the best wish you've had yet,' said Jane with cordial

just by the Bank the cabman stopped.

'I ain't agoin' to drive you no further,' he said. 'Out you

They got out rather unwillingly.

'I wants my tea,' he said; and they saw that on the box of the
cab was a mound of cabbage, with pork chops and apple sauce, a
duck, and a spotted currant pudding. Also a large can.

'You pay me my fare,' he said threateningly, and looked down at
the mound, muttering again about his tea.

'We'll take another cab,' said Cyril with dignity. 'Give me
change for a sovereign, if you please.'

But the cabman, as it turned out, was not at all a nice
character. He took the sovereign, whipped up his horse, and
disappeared in the stream of cabs and omnibuses and wagons,
without giving them any change at all.

Already a little crowd was collecting round the party.

'Come on,' said Robert, leading the wrong way.

The crowd round them thickened. They were in a narrow street
where many gentlemen in black coats and without hats were
standing about on the pavement talking very loudly.

'How ugly their clothes are,' said the Queen of Babylon. 'They'd
be rather fine men, some of them, if they were dressed decently,
especially the ones with the beautiful long, curved noses. I
wish they were dressed like the Babylonians of my court.'

And of course, it was so.

The moment the almost fainting Psammead had blown itself out
every man in Throgmorton Street appeared abruptly in Babylonian
full dress.

All were carefully powdered, their hair and beards were scented
and curled, their garments richly embroidered. They wore rings
and armlets, flat gold collars and swords, and impossible-looking

A stupefied silence fell on them.

'I say,' a youth who had always been fair-haired broke that
silence, 'it's only fancy of course--something wrong with my
eyes--but you chaps do look so rum.'

'Rum,' said his friend. 'Look at YOU. You in a sash! My hat!
And your hair's gone black and you've got a beard. It's my
belief we've been poisoned. You do look a jackape.'

'Old Levinstein don't look so bad. But how was it DONE--that's
what I want to know. How was it done? Is it conjuring, or

'I think it is chust a ver' bad tream,' said old Levinstein to
his clerk; 'all along Bishopsgate I haf seen the gommon people
have their hants full of food--GOOT food. Oh yes, without doubt
a very bad tream!'

'Then I'm dreaming too, Sir,' said the clerk, looking down at his
legs with an expression of loathing. 'I see my feet in beastly
sandals as plain as plain.'

'All that goot food wasted,' said old Mr Levinstein. A bad
tream--a bad tream.'

The Members of the Stock Exchange are said to be at all times a
noisy lot. But the noise they made now to express their disgust
at the costumes of ancient Babylon was far louder than their
ordinary row. One had to shout before one could hear oneself

'I only wish,' said the clerk who thought it was conjuring--he
was quite close to the children and they trembled, because they
knew that whatever he wished would come true. 'I only wish we
knew who'd done it.'

And, of course, instantly they did know, and they pressed round
the Queen.

'Scandalous! Shameful! Ought to be put down by law. Give her
in charge. Fetch the police,' two or three voices shouted at

The Queen recoiled.

'What is it?' she asked. 'They sound like caged lions--lions by
the thousand. What is it that they say?'

'They say "Police!",' said Cyril briefly. 'I knew they would
sooner or later. And I don't blame them, mind you.'

'I wish my guards were here!' cried the Queen. The exhausted
Psammead was panting and trembling, but the Queen's guards in red
and green garments, and brass and iron gear, choked Throgmorton
Street, and bared weapons flashed round the Queen.

'I'm mad,' said a Mr Rosenbaum; 'dat's what it is--mad!'

'It's a judgement on you, Rosy,' said his partner. 'I always
said you were too hard in that matter of Flowerdew. It's a
judgement, and I'm in it too.'

The members of the Stock Exchange had edged carefully away from
the gleaming blades, the mailed figures, the hard, cruel Eastern

But Throgmorton Street is narrow, and the crowd was too thick for
them to get away as quickly as they wished.

'Kill them,' cried the Queen. 'Kill the dogs!'

The guards obeyed.

'It IS all a dream,' cried Mr Levinstein, cowering in a doorway
behind his clerk.

'It isn't,' said the clerk. 'It isn't. Oh, my good gracious!
those foreign brutes are killing everybody. Henry Hirsh is down
now, and Prentice is cut in two--oh, Lord! and Huth, and there
goes Lionel Cohen with his head off, and Guy Nickalls has lost
his head now. A dream? I wish to goodness it was all a dream.'

And, of course, instantly it was! The entire Stock Exchange
rubbed its eyes and went back to close, to over, and either side
of seven-eights, and Trunks, and Kaffirs, and Steel Common, and
Contangoes, and Backwardations, Double Options, and all the
interesting subjects concerning which they talk in the Street
without ceasing.

No one said a word about it to anyone else. I think I have
explained before that business men do not like it to be known
that they have been dreaming in business hours. Especially mad
dreams including such dreadful things as hungry people getting
dinners, and the destruction of the Stock Exchange.

The children were in the dining-room at 300, Fitzroy Street, pale
and trembling. The Psammead crawled out of the embroidered bag,
and lay flat on the table, its leg stretched out, looking more
like a dead hare than anything else.

'Thank Goodness that's over,' said Anthea, drawing a deep breath.

'She won't come back, will she?' asked Jane tremulously.

'No,' said Cyril. 'She's thousands of years ago. But we spent a
whole precious pound on her. It'll take all our pocket-money for
ages to pay that back.'

'Not if it was ALL a dream,' said Robert.

'The wish said ALL a dream, you know, Panther; you cut up and ask
if he lent you anything.'

'I beg your pardon,' said Anthea politely, following the sound of
her knock into the presence of the learned gentleman, 'I'm so
sorry to trouble you, but DID you lend me a pound today?'

'No,' said he, looking kindly at her through his spectacles.
'But it's extraordinary that you should ask me, for I dozed for a
few moments this afternoon, a thing I very rarely do, and I
dreamed quite distinctly that you brought me a ring that you said
belonged to the Queen of Babylon, and that I lent you a sovereign
and that you left one of the Queen's rings here. The ring was a
magnificent specimen.' He sighed. 'I wish it hadn't been a
dream,' he said smiling. He was really learning to smile quite

Anthea could not be too thankful that the Psammead was not there
to grant his wish.



You will understand that the adventure of the Babylonian queen in
London was the only one that had occupied any time at all. But
the children's time was very fully taken up by talking over all
the wonderful things seen and done in the Past, where, by the
power of the Amulet, they seemed to spend hours and hours, only
to find when they got back to London that the whole thing had
been briefer than a lightning flash.

They talked of the Past at their meals, in their walks, in the
dining-room, in the first-floor drawing-room, but most of all on
the stairs. It was an old house; it had once been a fashionable
one, and was a fine one still. The banister rails of the stairs
were excellent for sliding down, and in the corners of the
landings were big alcoves that had once held graceful statues,
and now quite often held the graceful forms of Cyril, Robert,
Anthea, and Jane.

One day Cyril and Robert in tight white underclothing had spent a
pleasant hour in reproducing the attitudes of statues seen either
in the British Museum, or in Father's big photograph book. But
the show ended abruptly because Robert wanted to be the Venus of
Milo, and for this purpose pulled at the sheet which served for
drapery at the very moment when Cyril, looking really quite like
the Discobolos--with a gold and white saucer for the disc--was
standing on one foot, and under that one foot was the sheet.

Of course the Discobolos and his disc and the would-be Venus came
down together, and everyone was a good deal hurt, especially the
saucer, which would never be the same again, however neatly one
might join its uneven bits with Seccotine or the white of an egg.

'I hope you're satisfied,' said Cyril, holding his head where a
large lump was rising.

'Quite, thanks,' said Robert bitterly. His thumb had caught in
the banisters and bent itself back almost to breaking point.

'I AM so sorry, poor, dear Squirrel,' said Anthea; 'and you were
looking so lovely. I'll get a wet rag. Bobs, go and hold your
hand under the hot-water tap. It's what ballet girls do with
their legs when they hurt them. I saw it in a book.'

'What book?' said Robert disagreeably. But he went.

When he came back Cyril's head had been bandaged by his sisters,
and he had been brought to the state of mind where he was able
reluctantly to admit that he supposed Robert hadn't done it on

Robert replying with equal suavity, Anthea hastened to lead the
talk away from the accident.

'I suppose you don't feel like going anywhere through the
Amulet,' she said.

'Egypt!' said Jane promptly. 'I want to see the pussy cats.'

'Not me--too hot,' said Cyril. 'It's about as much as I can
stand here--let alone Egypt.' It was indeed, hot, even on the
second landing, which was the coolest place in the house. 'Let's
go to the North Pole.'

'I don't suppose the Amulet was ever there--and we might get our
fingers frost-bitten so that we could never hold it up to get
home again. No thanks,' said Robert.

'I say,' said Jane, 'let's get the Psammead and ask its advice.
It will like us asking, even if we don't take it.'

The Psammead was brought up in its green silk embroidered bag,
but before it could be asked anything the door of the learned
gentleman's room opened and the voice of the visitor who had been
lunching with him was heard on the stairs. He seemed to be
speaking with the door handle in his hand.

'You see a doctor, old boy,' he said; 'all that about
thought-transference is just simply twaddle. You've been
over-working. Take a holiday. Go to Dieppe.'

'I'd rather go to Babylon,' said the learned gentleman.

'I wish you'd go to Atlantis some time, while we're about it, so
as to give me some tips for my Nineteenth Century article when
you come home.'

'I wish I could,' said the voice of the learned gentleman.
'Goodbye. Take care of yourself.'

The door was banged, and the visitor came smiling down the
stairs--a stout, prosperous, big man. The children had to get up
to let him pass.

'Hullo, Kiddies,' he said, glancing at the bandages on the head
of Cyril and the hand of Robert, 'been in the wars?'

'It's all right,' said Cyril. 'I say, what was that Atlantic
place you wanted him to go to? We couldn't help hearing you

'You talk so VERY loud, you see,' said Jane soothingly.

'Atlantis,' said the visitor, 'the lost Atlantis, garden of the
Hesperides. Great continent--disappeared in the sea. You can
read about it in Plato.'

'Thank you,' said Cyril doubtfully.

'Were there any Amulets there?' asked Anthea, made anxious by a
sudden thought.

'Hundreds, I should think. So HE'S been talking to you?'

'Yes, often. He's very kind to us. We like him awfully.'

'Well, what he wants is a holiday; you persuade him to take one.
What he wants is a change of scene. You see, his head is crusted
so thickly inside with knowledge about Egypt and Assyria and
things that you can't hammer anything into it unless you keep
hard at it all day long for days and days. And I haven't time.
But you live in the house. You can hammer almost incessantly.
Just try your hands, will you? Right. So long!'

He went down the stairs three at a time, and Jane remarked that
he was a nice man, and she thought he had little girls of his

'I should like to have them to play with,' she added pensively.

The three elder ones exchanged glances. Cyril nodded.

'All right. LET'S go to Atlantis,' he said.

'Let's go to Atlantis and take the learned gentleman with us,'
said Anthea; 'he'll think it's a dream, afterwards, but it'll
certainly be a change of scene.'

'Why not take him to nice Egypt?' asked Jane.

'Too hot,' said Cyril shortly.

'Or Babylon, where he wants to go?'

'I've had enough of Babylon,' said Robert, 'at least for the
present. And so have the others. I don't know why,' he added,
forestalling the question on Jane's lips, 'but somehow we have.
Squirrel, let's take off these beastly bandages and get into
flannels. We can't go in our unders.'

'He WISHED to go to Atlantis, so he's got to go some time; and he
might as well go with us,' said Anthea.

This was how it was that the learned gentleman, permitting
himself a few moments of relaxation in his chair, after the
fatigue of listening to opinions (about Atlantis and many other
things) with which he did not at all agree, opened his eyes to
find his four young friends standing in front of him in a row.

'Will you come,' said Anthea, 'to Atlantis with us?'

'To know that you are dreaming shows that the dream is nearly at
an end,' he told himself; 'or perhaps it's only a game, like "How
many miles to Babylon?".' So he said aloud: 'Thank you very
much, but I have only a quarter of an hour to spare.'

'It doesn't take any time,' said Cyril; 'time is only a mode of
thought, you know, and you've got to go some time, so why not
with us?'

'Very well,' said the learned gentleman, now quite certain that
he was dreaming.

Anthea held out her soft, pink hand. He took it. She pulled him
gently to his feet. Jane held up the Amulet.

'To just outside Atlantis,' said Cyril, and Jane said the Name of

'You owl!' said Robert, 'it's an island. Outside an island's all

'I won't go. I WON'T,' said the Psammead, kicking and struggling
in its bag.

But already the Amulet had grown to a great arch. Cyril pushed
the learned gentleman, as undoubtedly the first-born, through the
arch--not into water, but on to a wooden floor, out of doors.
The others followed. The Amulet grew smaller again, and there
they all were, standing on the deck of a ship whose sailors were
busy making her fast with chains to rings on a white quay-side.
The rings and the chains were of a metal that shone red-yellow
like gold.

Everyone on the ship seemed too busy at first to notice the group
of newcomers from Fitzroy Street. Those who seemed to be
officers were shouting orders to the men.

They stood and looked across the wide quay to the town that rose
beyond it. What they saw was the most beautiful sight any of
them had ever seen--or ever dreamed of.

The blue sea sparkled in soft sunlight; little white-capped waves
broke softly against the marble breakwaters that guarded the
shipping of a great city from the wilderness of winter winds and
seas. The quay was of marble, white and sparkling with a veining
bright as gold. The city was of marble, red and white. The
greater buildings that seemed to be temples and palaces were
roofed with what looked like gold and silver, but most of the
roofs were of copper that glowed golden-red on the houses on the
hills among which the city stood, and shaded into marvellous
tints of green and blue and purple where they had been touched by
the salt sea spray and the fumes of the dyeing and smelting works
of the lower town.

Broad and magnificent flights of marble stairs led up from the
quay to a sort of terrace that seemed to run along for miles, and
beyond rose the town built on a hill.

The learned gentleman drew a long breath. 'Wonderful!' he said,

'I say, Mr--what's your name,' said Robert. 'He means,' said
Anthea, with gentle politeness, 'that we never can remember your
name. I know it's Mr De Something.'

'When I was your age I was called Jimmy,' he said timidly.
'Would you mind? I should feel more at home in a dream like this
if I-- Anything that made me seem more like one of you.'

'Thank you--Jimmy,' said Anthea with an effort. It seemed such a
cheek to be saying Jimmy to a grown-up man. 'Jimmy, DEAR,' she
added, with no effort at all. Jimmy smiled and looked pleased.

But now the ship was made fast, and the Captain had time to
notice other things. He came towards them, and he was dressed in
the best of all possible dresses for the seafaring life.

'What are you doing here?' he asked rather fiercely. 'Do you
come to bless or to curse?'

'To bless, of course,' said Cyril. 'I'm sorry if it annoys you,
but we're here by magic. We come from the land of the
sun-rising,' he went on explanatorily.

'I see,' said the Captain; no one had expected that he would. 'I
didn't notice at first, but of course I hope you're a good omen.
It's needed. And this,' he pointed to the learned gentleman,
'your slave, I presume?'

'Not at all,' said Anthea; 'he's a very great man. A sage, don't
they call it? And we want to see all your beautiful city, and
your temples and things, and then we shall go back, and he will
tell his friend, and his friend will write a book about it.'

'What,' asked the Captain, fingering a rope, 'is a book?'

'A record--something written, or,' she added hastily, remembering
the Babylonian writing, 'or engraved.'

Some sudden impulse of confidence made Jane pluck the Amulet from
the neck of her frock.

'Like this,' she said.

The Captain looked at it curiously, but, the other three were
relieved to notice, without any of that overwhelming interest
which the mere name of it had roused in Egypt and Babylon.

'The stone is of our country,' he said; 'and that which is
engraved on it, it is like our writing, but I cannot read it.
What is the name of your sage?'

'Ji-jimmy,' said Anthea hesitatingly.

The Captain repeated, 'Ji-jimmy. Will you land?' he added. 'And
shall I lead you to the Kings?'

'Look here,' said Robert, 'does your King hate strangers?'

'Our Kings are ten,' said the Captain, 'and the Royal line,
unbroken from Poseidon, the father of us all, has the noble
tradition to do honour to strangers if they come in peace.'

'Then lead on, please,' said Robert, 'though I SHOULD like to see
all over your beautiful ship, and sail about in her.'

'That shall be later,' said the Captain; 'just now we're afraid
of a storm--do you notice that odd rumbling?'

'That's nothing, master,' said an old sailor who stood near;
'it's the pilchards coming in, that's all.'

'Too loud,' said the Captain.

There was a rather anxious pause; then the Captain stepped on to
the quay, and the others followed him.

'Do talk to him--Jimmy,' said Anthea as they went; 'you can find
out all sorts of things for your friend's book.'

'Please excuse me,' he said earnestly. 'If I talk I shall wake
up; and besides, I can't understand what he says.'

No one else could think of anything to say, so that it was in
complete silence that they followed the Captain up the marble
steps and through the streets of the town. There were streets
and shops and houses and markets.

'It's just like Babylon,' whispered Jane, 'only everything's
perfectly different.'

'It's a great comfort the ten Kings have been properly brought
up--to be kind to strangers,' Anthea whispered to Cyril.

'Yes,' he said, 'no deepest dungeons here.'

There were no horses or chariots in the street, but there were
handcarts and low trolleys running on thick log-wheels, and
porters carrying packets on their heads, and a good many of the
people were riding on what looked like elephants, only the great
beasts were hairy, and they had not that mild expression we are
accustomed to meet on the faces of the elephants at the Zoo.

'Mammoths!' murmured the learned gentleman, and stumbled over a
loose stone.

The people in the streets kept crowding round them as they went
along, but the Captain always dispersed the crowd before it grew
uncomfortably thick by saying--

'Children of the Sun God and their High Priest--come to bless the

And then the people would draw back with a low murmur that
sounded like a suppressed cheer.

Many of the buildings were covered with gold, but the gold on the
bigger buildings was of a different colour, and they had sorts of
steeples of burnished silver rising above them.

'Are all these houses real gold?' asked Jane.

'The temples are covered with gold, of course,' answered the
Captain, 'but the houses are only oricalchum. It's not quite so

The learned gentleman, now very pale, stumbled along in a dazed
way, repeating:


'Don't be frightened,' said Anthea; 'we can get home in a minute,
just by holding up the charm. Would you rather go back now? We
could easily come some other day without you.'

'Oh, no, no,' he pleaded fervently; 'let the dream go on.
Please, please do.'

'The High Ji-jimmy is perhaps weary with his magic journey,' said
the Captain, noticing the blundering walk of the learned
gentleman; 'and we are yet very far from the Great Temple, where
today the Kings make sacrifice.'

He stopped at the gate of a great enclosure. It seemed to be a
sort of park, for trees showed high above its brazen wall.

The party waited, and almost at once the Captain came back with
one of the hairy elephants and begged them to mount.

This they did.

It was a glorious ride. The elephant at the Zoo--to ride on him
is also glorious, but he goes such a very little way, and then he
goes back again, which is always dull. But this great hairy
beast went on and on and on along streets and through squares and
gardens. It was a glorious city; almost everything was built of
marble, red, or white, or black. Every now and then the party
crossed a bridge.

It was not till they had climbed to the hill which is the centre
of the town that they saw that the whole city was divided into
twenty circles, alternately land and water, and over each of the
water circles were the bridges by which they had come.

And now they were in a great square. A vast building filled up
one side of it; it was overlaid with gold, and had a dome of
silver. The rest of the buildings round the square were of
oricalchum. And it looked more splendid than you can possibly
imagine, standing up bold and shining in the sunlight.

'You would like a bath,' said the Captain, as the hairy elephant
went clumsily down on his knees. 'It's customary, you know,
before entering the Presence. We have baths for men, women,
horses, and cattle. The High Class Baths are here. Our Father
Poseidon gave us a spring of hot water and one of cold.'

The children had never before bathed in baths of gold.

'It feels very splendid,' said Cyril, splashing.

'At least, of course, it's not gold; it's or--what's its name,'
said Robert. 'Hand over that towel.'

The bathing hall had several great pools sunk below the level of
the floor; one went down to them by steps.

'Jimmy,' said Anthea timidly, when, very clean and
boiled-looking, they all met in the flowery courtyard of the
Public, 'don't you think all this seems much more like NOW than
Babylon or Egypt--? Oh, I forgot, you've never been there.'

'I know a little of those nations, however,' said he, 'and I
quite agree with you. A most discerning remark--my dear,' he
added awkwardly; 'this city certainly seems to indicate a far
higher level of civilization than the Egyptian or Babylonish,

'Follow me,' said the Captain. 'Now, boys, get out of the way.'
He pushed through a little crowd of boys who were playing with
dried chestnuts fastened to a string.

'Ginger!' remarked Robert, 'they're playing conkers, just like
the kids in Kentish Town Road!'

They could see now that three walls surrounded the island on
which they were. The outermost wall was of brass, the Captain
told them; the next, which looked like silver, was covered with
tin; and the innermost one was of oricalchum.

And right in the middle was a wall of gold, with golden towers
and gates.

'Behold the Temples of Poseidon,' said the Captain. 'It is not
lawful for me to enter. I will await your return here.'

He told them what they ought to say, and the five people from
Fitzroy Street took hands and went forward. The golden gates
slowly opened.

'We are the children of the Sun,' said Cyril, as he had been
told, 'and our High Priest, at least that's what the Captain
calls him. We have a different name for him at home.' 'What is
his name?' asked a white-robed man who stood in the doorway with
his arms extended.

'Ji-jimmy,' replied Cyril, and he hesitated as Anthea had done.
It really did seem to be taking a great liberty with so learned a
gentleman. 'And we have come to speak with your Kings in the
Temple of Poseidon--does that word sound right?' he whispered

'Quite,' said the learned gentleman. 'It's very odd I can
understand what you say to them, but not what they say to you.'

'The Queen of Babylon found that too,' said Cyril; 'it's part of
the magic.'

'Oh, what a dream!' said the learned gentleman.

The white-robed priest had been joined by others, and all were
bowing low.

'Enter,' he said, 'enter, Children of the Sun, with your High

In an inner courtyard stood the Temple--all of silver, with gold
pinnacles and doors, and twenty enormous statues in bright gold
of men and women. Also an immense pillar of the other precious
yellow metal.

They went through the doors, and the priest led them up a stair
into a gallery from which they could look down on to the glorious

'The ten Kings are even now choosing the bull. It is not lawful
for me to behold,' said the priest, and fell face downward on the
floor outside the gallery. The children looked down.

The roof was of ivory adorned with the three precious metals, and
the walls were lined with the favourite oricalchum.

At the far end of the Temple was a statue group, the like of
which no one living has ever seen.

It was of gold, and the head of the chief figure reached to the
roof. That figure was Poseidon, the Father of the City. He
stood in a great chariot drawn by six enormous horses, and round
about it were a hundred mermaids riding on dolphins.

Ten men, splendidly dressed and armed only with sticks and ropes,
were trying to capture one of some fifteen bulls who ran this way
and that about the floor of the Temple. The children held their
breath, for the bulls looked dangerous, and the great horned
heads were swinging more and more wildly.

Anthea did not like looking at the bulls. She looked about the
gallery, and noticed that another staircase led up from it to a
still higher storey; also that a door led out into the open air,
where there seemed to be a balcony.

So that when a shout went up and Robert whispered, 'Got him,' and
she looked down and saw the herd of bulls being driven out of the
Temple by whips, and the ten Kings following, one of them
spurring with his stick a black bull that writhed and fought in
the grip of a lasso, she answered the boy's agitated, 'Now we
shan't see anything more,' with--

'Yes we can, there's an outside balcony.'

So they crowded out.

But very soon the girls crept back.

'I don't like sacrifices,' Jane said. So she and Anthea went and
talked to the priest, who was no longer lying on his face, but
sitting on the top step mopping his forehead with his robe, for
it was a hot day.

'It's a special sacrifice,' he said; 'usually it's only done on
the justice days every five years and six years alternately. And
then they drink the cup of wine with some of the bull's blood in
it, and swear to judge truly. And they wear the sacred blue
robe, and put out all the Temple fires. But this today is
because the City's so upset by the odd noises from the sea, and
the god inside the big mountain speaking with his thunder-voice.
But all that's happened so often before. If anything could make
ME uneasy it wouldn't be THAT.'

'What would it be?' asked Jane kindly.

'It would be the Lemmings.'

'Who are they--enemies?'

'They're a sort of rat; and every year they come swimming over
from the country that no man knows, and stay here awhile, and
then swim away. This year they haven't come. You know rats
won't stay on a ship that's going to be wrecked. If anything
horrible were going to happen to us, it's my belief those
Lemmings would know; and that may be why they've fought shy of

'What do you call this country?' asked the Psammead, suddenly
putting its head out of its bag.

'Atlantis,' said the priest.

'Then I advise you to get on to the highest ground you can find.
I remember hearing something about a flood here. Look here,
you'--it turned to Anthea; 'let's get home. The prospect's too
wet for my whiskers.' The girls obediently went to find their
brothers, who were leaning on the balcony railings.

'Where's the learned gentleman?' asked Anthea.

'There he is--below,' said the priest, who had come with them.
'Your High Ji-jimmy is with the Kings.'

The ten Kings were no longer alone. The learned gentleman--no
one had noticed how he got there--stood with them on the steps of
an altar, on which lay the dead body of the black bull. All the
rest of the courtyard was thick with people, seemingly of all
classes, and all were shouting, 'The sea--the sea!'

'Be calm,' said the most kingly of the Kings, he who had lassoed
the bull. 'Our town is strong against the thunders of the sea
and of the sky!'

'I want to go home,' whined the Psammead.

'We can't go without HIM,' said Anthea firmly.

'Jimmy,' she called, 'Jimmy!' and waved to him. He heard her,
and began to come towards her through the crowd. They could see
from the balcony the sea-captain edging his way out from among
the people. And his face was dead white, like paper.

'To the hills!' he cried in a loud and terrible voice. And above
his voice came another voice, louder, more terrible--the voice of
the sea.

The girls looked seaward.

Across the smooth distance of the sea something huge and black
rolled towards the town. It was a wave, but a wave a hundred
feet in height, a wave that looked like a mountain--a wave rising
higher and higher till suddenly it seemed to break in two--one
half of it rushed out to sea again; the other--

'Oh!' cried Anthea, 'the town--the poor people!'

'It's all thousands of years ago, really,' said Robert but his
voice trembled. They hid their eyes for a moment. They could
not bear to look down, for the wave had broken on the face of the
town, sweeping over the quays and docks, overwhelming the great
storehouses and factories, tearing gigantic stones from forts and
bridges, and using them as battering rams against the temples.
Great ships were swept over the roofs of the houses and dashed
down halfway up the hill among ruined gardens and broken
buildings. The water ground brown fishing-boats to powder on the
golden roofs of Palaces.

Then the wave swept back towards the sea.

'I want to go home,' cried the Psammead fiercely.

'Oh, yes, yes!' said Jane, and the boys were ready--but the
learned gentleman had not come.

Then suddenly they heard him dash up to the inner gallery,

'I MUST see the end of the dream.' He rushed up the higher

The others followed him. They found themselves in a sort of
turret--roofed, but open to the air at the sides.

The learned gentleman was leaning on the parapet, and as they
rejoined him the vast wave rushed back on the town. This time it
rose higher--destroyed more.

'Come home,' cried the Psammead; 'THAT'S the LAST, I know it is!
That's the last--over there.' It pointed with a claw that

'Oh, come!' cried Jane, holding up the Amulet.

'I WILL SEE the end of the dream,' cried the learned gentleman.

'You'll never see anything else if you do,' said Cyril. 'Oh,
JIMMY!' appealed Anthea. 'I'll NEVER bring you out again!'

'You'll never have the chance if you don't go soon,' said the

'I WILL see the end of the dream,' said the learned gentleman

The hills around were black with people fleeing from the villages
to the mountains. And even as they fled thin smoke broke from
the great white peak, and then a faint flash of flame. Then the
volcano began to throw up its mysterious fiery inside parts. The
earth trembled; ashes and sulphur showered down; a rain of fine
pumice-stone fell like snow on all the dry land. The elephants
from the forest rushed up towards the peaks; great lizards thirty
yards long broke from the mountain pools and rushed down towards
the sea. The snows melted and rushed down, first in avalanches,
then in roaring torrents. Great rocks cast up by the volcano
fell splashing in the sea miles away.

'Oh, this is horrible!' cried Anthea. 'Come home, come home!'

'The end of the dream,' gasped the learned gentleman.

'Hold up the Amulet,' cried the Psammead suddenly. The place
where they stood was now crowded with men and women, and the
children were strained tight against the parapet. The turret
rocked and swayed; the wave had reached the golden wall.

Jane held up the Amulet.

'Now,' cried the Psammead, 'say the word!'

And as Jane said it the Psammead leaped from its bag and bit the
hand of the learned gentleman.

At the same moment the boys pushed him through the arch and all
followed him.

He turned to look back, and through the arch he saw nothing but a
waste of waters, with above it the peak of the terrible mountain
with fire raging from it.

He staggered back to his chair.

'What a ghastly dream!' he gasped. 'Oh, you're here,
my--er--dears. Can I do anything for you?'

'You've hurt your hand,' said Anthea gently; 'let me bind it up.'

The hand was indeed bleeding rather badly.

The Psammead had crept back to its bag. All the children were
very white.

'Never again,' said the Psammead later on, 'will I go into the
Past with a grown-up person! I will say for you four, you do do
as you're told.'

'We didn't even find the Amulet,' said Anthea later still.

'Of course you didn't; it wasn't there. Only the stone it was
made of was there. It fell on to a ship miles away that managed
to escape and got to Egypt. _I_ could have told you that.'

'I wish you had,' said Anthea, and her voice was still rather
shaky. 'Why didn't you?'

'You never asked me,' said the Psammead very sulkily. 'I'm not
the sort of chap to go shoving my oar in where it's not wanted.'

'Mr Ji-jimmy's friend will have something worth having to put in
his article now,' said Cyril very much later indeed.

'Not he,' said Robert sleepily. 'The learned Ji-jimmy will think
it's a dream, and it's ten to one he never tells the other chap a
word about it at all.'

Robert was quite right on both points. The learned gentleman
did. And he never did.



A great city swept away by the sea, a beautiful country
devastated by an active volcano--these are not the sort of things
you see every day of the week. And when you do see them, no
matter how many other wonders you may have seen in your time,
such sights are rather apt to take your breath away. Atlantis
had certainly this effect on the breaths of Cyril, Robert,
Anthea, and Jane.

They remained in a breathless state for some days. The learned
gentleman seemed as breathless as anyone; he spent a good deal of
what little breath he had in telling Anthea about a wonderful
dream he had. 'You would hardly believe,' he said, 'that anyone
COULD have such a detailed vision.'

But Anthea could believe it, she said, quite easily.

He had ceased to talk about thought-transference. He had now
seen too many wonders to believe that.

In consequence of their breathless condition none of the children
suggested any new excursions through the Amulet. Robert voiced
the mood of the others when he said that they were 'fed up' with
Amulet for a bit. They undoubtedly were.

As for the Psammead, it went to sand and stayed there, worn out
by the terror of the flood and the violent exercise it had had to
take in obedience to the inconsiderate wishes of the learned
gentleman and the Babylonian queen.

The children let it sleep. The danger of taking it about among
strange people who might at any moment utter undesirable wishes
was becoming more and more plain.

And there are pleasant things to be done in London without any
aid from Amulets or Psammeads. You can, for instance visit the
Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the National Gallery,
the Zoological Gardens, the various Parks, the Museums at South
Kensington, Madame Tussaud's Exhibition of Waxworks, or the
Botanical Gardens at Kew. You can go to Kew by river
steamer--and this is the way that the children would have gone if
they had gone at all. Only they never did, because it was when
they were discussing the arrangements for the journey, and what
they should take with them to eat and how much of it, and what
the whole thing would cost, that the adventure of the Little
Black Girl began to happen.

The children were sitting on a seat in St James's Park. They had
been watching the pelican repulsing with careful dignity the
advances of the seagulls who are always so anxious to play games
with it. The pelican thinks, very properly, that it hasn't the
figure for games, so it spends most of its time pretending that
that is not the reason why it won't play.

The breathlessness caused by Atlantis was wearing off a little.
Cyril, who always wanted to understand all about everything, was
turning things over in his mind.

'I'm not; I'm only thinking,' he answered when Robert asked him
what he was so grumpy about. 'I'll tell you when I've thought it
all out.'

'If it's about the Amulet I don't want to hear it,' said Jane.

'Nobody asked you to,' retorted Cyril mildly, 'and I haven't
finished my inside thinking about it yet. Let's go to Kew in the

'I'd rather go in a steamer,' said Robert; and the girls laughed.

'That's right,' said Cyril, 'BE funny. I would.'

'Well, he was, rather,' said Anthea.

'I wouldn't think, Squirrel, if it hurts you so,' said Robert

'Oh, shut up,' said Cyril, 'or else talk about Kew.'

'I want to see the palms there,' said Anthea hastily, 'to see if
they're anything like the ones on the island where we united the
Cook and the Burglar by the Reverend Half-Curate.'

All disagreeableness was swept away in a pleasant tide of
recollections, and 'Do you remember ...?' they said. 'Have you
forgotten ...?'

'My hat!' remarked Cyril pensively, as the flood of reminiscence
ebbed a little; 'we have had some times.'

'We have that,' said Robert.

'Don't let's have any more,' said Jane anxiously.

'That's what I was thinking about,' Cyril replied; and just then
they heard the Little Black Girl sniff. She was quite close to

She was not really a little black girl. She was shabby and not
very clean, and she had been crying so much that you could hardly
see, through the narrow chink between her swollen lids, how very
blue her eyes were. It was her dress that was black, and it was
too big and too long for her, and she wore a speckled
black-ribboned sailor hat that would have fitted a much bigger
head than her little flaxen one. And she stood looking at the
children and sniffing.

'Oh, dear!' said Anthea, jumping up. 'Whatever is the matter?'

She put her hand on the little girl's arm. It was rudely shaken

'You leave me be,' said the little girl. 'I ain't doing nothing
to you.'

'But what is it?' Anthea asked. 'Has someone been hurting you?'

'What's that to you?' said the little girl fiercely. 'YOU'RE all

'Come away,' said Robert, pulling at Anthea's sleeve. 'She's a
nasty, rude little kid.'

'Oh, no,' said Anthea. 'She's only dreadfully unhappy. What is
it?' she asked again.

'Oh, YOU'RE all right,' the child repeated; 'YOU ain't agoin' to
the Union.'

'Can't we take you home?' said Anthea; and Jane added, 'Where
does your mother live?'

'She don't live nowheres--she's dead--so now!' said the little
girl fiercely, in tones of miserable triumph. Then she opened
her swollen eyes widely, stamped her foot in fury, and ran away.
She ran no further than to the next bench, flung herself down
there and began to cry without even trying not to.

Anthea, quite at once, went to the little girl and put her arms
as tight as she could round the hunched-up black figure.

'Oh, don't cry so, dear, don't, don't!' she whispered under the
brim of the large sailor hat, now very crooked indeed. 'Tell
Anthea all about it; Anthea'll help you. There, there, dear,
don't cry.'

The others stood at a distance. One or two passers-by stared

The child was now only crying part of the time; the rest of the
time she seemed to be talking to Anthea.

Presently Anthea beckoned Cyril.

'It's horrible!' she said in a furious whisper, 'her father was a
carpenter and he was a steady man, and never touched a drop
except on a Saturday, and he came up to London for work, and
there wasn't any, and then he died; and her name is Imogen, and
she's nine come next November. And now her mother's dead, and
she's to stay tonight with Mrs Shrobsall--that's a landlady
that's been kind--and tomorrow the Relieving Officer is coming
for her, and she's going into the Union; that means the
Workhouse. It's too terrible. What can we do?'

'Let's ask the learned gentleman,' said Jane brightly.

And as no one else could think of anything better the whole party
walked back to Fitzroy Street as fast as it could, the little
girl holding tight to Anthea's hand and now not crying any more,
only sniffing gently.

The learned gentleman looked up from his writing with the smile
that had grown much easier to him than it used to be. They were
quite at home in his room now; it really seemed to welcome them.
Even the mummy-case appeared to smile as if in its distant
superior ancient Egyptian way it were rather pleased to see them
than not.

Anthea sat on the stairs with Imogen, who was nine come next
November, while the others went in and explained the difficulty.

The learned gentleman listened with grave attention.

'It really does seem rather rough luck,' Cyril concluded,
'because I've often heard about rich people who wanted children
most awfully--though I know _I_ never should--but they do. There
must be somebody who'd be glad to have her.'

'Gipsies are awfully fond of children,' Robert hopefully said.
'They're always stealing them. Perhaps they'd have her.'

'She's quite a nice little girl really,' Jane added; 'she was
only rude at first because we looked jolly and happy, and she
wasn't. You understand that, don't you?'

'Yes,' said he, absently fingering a little blue image from
Egypt. 'I understand that very well. As you say, there must be
some home where she would be welcome.' He scowled thoughtfully
at the little blue image.

Anthea outside thought the explanation was taking a very long

She was so busy trying to cheer and comfort the little black girl
that she never noticed the Psammead who, roused from sleep by her
voice, had shaken itself free of sand, and was coming crookedly
up the stairs. It was close to her before she saw it. She
picked it up and settled it in her lap.

'What is it?' asked the black child. 'Is it a cat or a
organ-monkey, or what?'

And then Anthea heard the learned gentleman say--

'Yes, I wish we could find a home where they would be glad to
have her,' and instantly she felt the Psammead begin to blow
itself out as it sat on her lap.

She jumped up lifting the Psammead in her skirt, and holding
Imogen by the hand, rushed into the learned gentleman's room.

'At least let's keep together,' she cried. 'All hold

The circle was like that formed for the Mulberry Bush or
Ring-o'-Roses. And Anthea was only able to take part in it by
holding in her teeth the hem of her frock which, thus supported,
formed a bag to hold the Psammead.

'Is it a game?' asked the learned gentleman feebly. No one

There was a moment of suspense; then came that curious
upside-down, inside-out sensation which one almost always feels
when transported from one place to another by magic. Also there
was that dizzy dimness of sight which comes on these occasions.

The mist cleared, the upside-down, inside-out sensation subsided,
and there stood the six in a ring, as before, only their twelve
feet, instead of standing on the carpet of the learned
gentleman's room, stood on green grass. Above them, instead of
the dusky ceiling of the Fitzroy Street floor, was a pale blue
sky. And where the walls had been and the painted mummy-case,
were tall dark green trees, oaks and ashes, and in between the
trees and under them tangled bushes and creeping ivy. There were
beech-trees too, but there was nothing under them but their own
dead red drifted leaves, and here and there a delicate green

And there they stood in a circle still holding hands, as though
they were playing Ring-o'-Roses or the Mulberry Bush. just six
people hand in hand in a wood. That sounds simple, but then you
must remember that they did not know WHERE the wood was, and
what's more, they didn't know WHEN then wood was. There was a
curious sort of feeling that made the learned gentleman say--

'Another dream, dear me!' and made the children almost certain
that they were in a time a very long while ago. As for little
Imogen, she said, 'Oh, my!' and kept her mouth very much open

'Where are we?' Cyril asked the Psammead.

'In Britain,' said the Psammead.

'But when?' asked Anthea anxiously.

'About the year fifty-five before the year you reckon time from,'
said the Psammead crossly. 'Is there anything else you want to
know?' it added, sticking its head out of the bag formed by
Anthea's blue linen frock, and turning its snail's eyes to right
and left. 'I've been here before--it's very little changed.'
'Yes, but why here?' asked Anthea.

'Your inconsiderate friend,' the Psammead replied, 'wished to
find some home where they would be glad to have that unattractive
and immature female human being whom you have picked up--gracious
knows how. In Megatherium days properly brought-up children
didn't talk to shabby strangers in parks. Your thoughtless
friend wanted a place where someone would be glad to have this
undesirable stranger. And now here you are!'

'I see we are,' said Anthea patiently, looking round on the tall
gloom of the forest. 'But why HERE? Why NOW?'

'You don't suppose anyone would want a child like that in YOUR
times--in YOUR towns?' said the Psammead in irritated tones.
'You've got your country into such a mess that there's no room
for half your children--and no one to want them.'

'That's not our doing, you know,' said Anthea gently.

'And bringing me here without any waterproof or anything,' said
the Psammead still more crossly, 'when everyone knows how damp
and foggy Ancient Britain was.'

'Here, take my coat,' said Robert, taking it off. Anthea spread
the coat on the ground and, putting the Psammead on it, folded it
round so that only the eyes and furry ears showed.

'There,' she said comfortingly. 'Now if it does begin to look
like rain, I can cover you up in a minute. Now what are we to

The others who had stopped holding hands crowded round to hear
the answer to this question. Imogen whispered in an awed tone--

'Can't the organ monkey talk neither! I thought it was only

'Do?' replied the Psammead. 'I don't care what you do!' And it
drew head and ears into the tweed covering of Robert's coat.

The others looked at each other.

'It's only a dream,' said the learned gentleman hopefully;
'something is sure to happen if we can prevent ourselves from
waking up.'

And sure enough, something did.

The brooding silence of the dark forest was broken by the
laughter of children and the sound of voices.


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